Well, today was painful. It’s not exactly fun to forecast a storm and have it not pan out. It was especially painful to watch this system look so good 5 days ago and then just get worse and worse, especially when we are in such dire need of snowfall. I wasn’t overly confident in this system to begin with, which is why my initial estimate of 6-14″ was conservative. Or at least conservative compared to some forecasts I saw. Tonight we could still see some snow and the Cottonwoods have already gotten a couple inches so not all is lost. I expect some areas of the Wasatch won’t see any snow from this “storm” while a few areas could pick up 6 inches or so tonight.
Saturday’s storm still looks decent. If it holds together, we could easily see 10-18″ in the high Wasatch. If it splits, which there is some suggestion it might do, we might end up with 5-10″. Either way, there will be enough fresh snow for some good skiing this weekend. And a chance for more snow on Tuesday.
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There is bad news to talk about, but then some good news that will hopefully make you feel a bit better. Our current storm, which we expected to start moving inland off the California coast yesterday, continued to dive down the coast until this morning when it finally started the push inland. We were already expecting the system to track south of us, but now it’s looking like it will track through central AZ. This means that even S. Utah will struggle to get good snows out of this system. Northern Utah, which would have benefited last night and today from the southerly flow generated from the Low, will now have to wait until this evening for the flow to turn northwesterly before we get in on the action. I don’t think there will be too much action to speak of either. If you are a regular reader than you know that often times when there is no surface front and only weak orographics in play, we struggle to “force” the precip up into and over the mountains. I suspect that might be the case tonight. The Cottonwoods and some other northwest facing aspects might do alright tonight with 5-10″ possible by tomorrow afternoon, but I suspect that Park City resorts will only see 3-6″ and even that might be a struggle. I hope I’m wrong but the best I can do is call it how I see it. That still will be enough to make the skiing tomorrow fun with some freshies to throw around.
Now on to the good news, we’ll see a break on Thursday night into Friday before light warm advection precip develops in the mountains late on Friday into Friday night. Fairly potent looking front and system on Saturday will move into the area during the morning hours and should last well into Saturday night. This system was showing some splitting in the ECMWF (Euro) yesterday but has now trended back to a more consolidated trough. This is going to be one of those hard hitting systems that is much easier to forecast than the long, drawn-out events. My guess is that by Sunday morning, most resorts will be sitting on 10-18″ of fresh snow with a possibility for more in places. It will also be a cold system so it should be Utah’s famous cold smoke!
The next system is timing for Monday night into Tuesday of next week. This system is slightly weaker in the Euro than in the GFS but both models suggest additional snowfall, exact amounts are still unknown however.
Major model differences begin to emerge later next week. The GFS generally tries to keep the storm train going through the first weekend of March, whereas the EC builds a dominant ridge. Obviously I hope the GFS is correct but my gut feeling tells me that the Euro has a better handle on the situation. We should know very soon as usually once we get within 7 days, the models start to find at least some sort of consensus.
This might not be the huge dumping pattern we were all hoping for, but there is still a solid chance that the Wasatch will see 2-4 feet of new snow between now and next Wednesday. Let’s make the most of it!