Thursday PM update:
Some great reports coming in from the Cottonwoods today where skiers were saying the 5-7″ that fell last night skied a lot deeper. Good to hear that a disappointing storm yielded at least halfway decent results.
Saturday system is still looking good. All models show at least decent snow in the Wasatch with a couple models suggesting significant snow. NWS has hoisted Winter Storm Watches for the Wasatch Range as well as most valley locations. They are forecasting 10-20″ (in the mountains) with more in places… my conservative estimate from this morning was 7-14″ with more in places. You’ll forgive me for being cautious of over-forecasting this storm with our recent history, so for right now I’m sticking with the 7-14″. Tomorrow morning I’ll have a couple more model runs and might feel more comfortable bumping up those numbers. My biggest concern is that the front is moving through quickly on Saturday morning, which means we will be relying too much on orographics to reach our totals, and orographic lift is not always the most reliable ingredient in a snowstorm.
The next system for Tuesday is now looking a bit better too in both the Euro and the GFS… so while I don’t think it will be a large storm, light to moderate amounts could be possible if the current trends hold. We’ll have to wait and see on that one.
More in the AM . . . WSF
Light orographically enhanced snow showers continue this morning in areas favored by the northwest flow. Some of these areas, like the Cottonwoods, received between 5-7″. I have a feeling that 5-7″ might be at the base of the resorts with less at the top due to the lack of forcing we described yesterday morning. Due to the lack of forcing and weak orographic influence, Park City resorts saw little if any snow. The closer you were to the Cottonwoods, the better you fared. Brian Head, predictably, was the big winner with its closer proximity to the track of the Low through Arizona. They are reporting about a foot of new snow. Like we mentioned yesterday, the storm was a bust and I usually like to go into why, but I think you all know why this time–the Low tracked too far south.
Looking ahead, today thru Friday night will feature cool temperatures and weak impulses which could fire up light orographic snow showers at times. Not expecting much if any accumulation. Saturday morning a strong cold front will bring brief heavy snow and wind to the area. The front will race through the area and should drop about 3-6″ of snow in the mountains. Then, behind the front, we will see an extended period of orographic snow showers again. Very moist and unstable airmass, so I think we should do pretty well, especially in areas that usually do well in these types of patterns. There is also the potential for lake effect snow. The lake surface temp has been gradually rising and the discrepancy in air and water temps, coupled with the unstable air, could cause lake enhancement or banding on Saturday night. This would add an additional 4-8″ on Saturday afternoon thru Sunday with more likely in the favored areas downwind of the GSL. That would put storm totals at 7-14″ in the Wasatch with locally more possible in places like the Cottonwoods. Sunday Funday! Here is the WRF forecasted snowfall map, notice the area of higher snowfall southeast of the GSL most likely due to lake enhancement:
Overall, the Saturday system is not quite as strong as we were hoping it would be a few days ago. On a similar note, the Euro now tries to force the Tuesday storm north of our area and build in high pressure. The GFS still gives us at least light snowfall on Tuesday but has been trending toward the Euro. When it rains it pours, or maybe I should say ‘when it rains it doesn’t snow’. I feel like nothing has been going our way for the last few days. What was looking like an extremely promising pattern, is now looking like a moderate storm sandwiched between two weak systems before high pressure regains control. The MJO raced through the “good phases” and is no longer looking to be in our favor for at least a few more weeks. There is an indication in the long-range models that the high pressure might be short-lived and storminess could return to the West for the second week of March, but at this point it’s too early to hang our hopes on that.
If you are looking for snowfall potential for the Tuesday system, it’s too early to tell really. The Euro solution would bring only a couple inches while the GFS might bring 4-8″… my guess is we’ll be somewhere in between with 3-6″ possible.
We are starting to get to that point where hydrological concerns will come into play if we don’t get some good snows in March and April. Two bad winters in a row can really take a toll on our water supply. Keep your fingers crossed for a stormy end to Winter and beginning of Spring.