A weak system to push thru the region today, bringing highest totals tonight to Southern Utah mountains. Another system for Wednesday night into Thursday. Potential for additional storms in the long range with much colder temperatures.
Kids Ski Free in Sun Valley
Short Term Forecast
We continue to be in an amplified pattern with big ridges and deep troughs. The ridge over the past couple weeks has been parked along the west coast. This has forced storms up into western Canada before the drop southeast thru the Northern Rockies and into the plains. This ridge is slowly retrograding westward. This is allowing troughs to develop farther west as well. That means that Utah is very slowly becoming more favored for snowfall and colder temperatures.
Let's start with temperatures... Utah has largely been well above normal this winter, but particularly in the past 2 weeks. Very mild air has led to record setting temps. This is going to be changing. We already saw a bit more cold air with the system this past weekend. Today's weak storm is bringing a reinforcing shot of cold air. Even colder air will arrive for the end of the work week, then colder yet to start next week. You can see the individual troughs and cold air filtering into the area over the next ten days:
This is welcome news, particularly for the low elevations which have lost a lot of their already meager snowpack in the past 2 weeks. Is it too little too late? Possibly.
As for snowfall, these storms are weak, at least initially. The overland trajectory that they are forced to take means that they pick up little moisture. Still, snow is snow. Today's system will bring scattered mountain snow showers to the northern half of the state thru this evening. The Wasatch can expect an inch or two of accumulation. There's a possibility that a few select areas could see higher totals if banding of precip develops.
Southern Utah will take the brunt of the snowfall tonight as the front stalls and pivots. Brian Head can expect 6-12" of snow tonight into tomorrow. Tuesday should be a powder day for southern Utah mountains. Desperately needed!
A break late Tuesday into Wednesday before the next trough drops into the area Wednesday night into Thursday. This storm is slightly stronger, but only slightly. Several additional inches in the mountains statewide on Thursday should lead to soft conditions heading into the weekend with colder temps. A break Friday and Saturday, then another system pushes in Sunday. Too early for details on this one, but again it looks generally weak. However, even colder air will be filtering in so it should feel like winter heading into early next week.
Overall, let's look at the latest model runs. The GFS is relatively modest, highest amounts in Southern Utah from tonight's storm:
The Euro is a bit more optimistic statewide:
So while none of the storms in the next 10 days look particularly strong, we are making significant progress. The first step to getting back to winter is opening the storm door. That's done. The second step is for storms and colder air to actually push into the area. That's happening. All we need now is for the overall pattern to continue to evolve until we can get stronger storms into the region.
Looking ahead, it seems as if the ridge will continue to push farther west into the Gulf of AK. Theoretically, that should allow systems to come in off the Pacific with more moisture. Ensembles from both the Euro and GFS keep a ridge in the Pacific and a ridge over the east coast for the majority of the rest of February. That should mean that troughs will continually be dropping into Western US. I'm cautiously optimistic that the second half of the month could be decent.
Is it a perfect forecast? No. But it's certainly trending better...
Evan | OpenSnow