A hot start to meteorological Autumn in Utah, but more seasonable temperatures are in the forecast along with some chances for moisture.
Short Term Forecast
Labor Day weekend was a sizzler in Utah! The SLC airport started the month by observing a tie for the hottest September temperature ever recorded (100F). It was only the second time ever we've hit triple digits in the month of September. Yesterday wasn't much better -- 98F at the airport and I actually recorded my hottest temp of the entire year at my house with 101F. Very unusual to see a hottest annual temp in September.
With all this heat, it may come as a shock to you that the coldest temperature in the entire nation was recorded right here in Utah yesterday. The notoriously cold Peter Sinks was 24F yesterday morning. Not much of a surprise, considering it got down to 17F last week. If you are not familiar with Peter Sinks, it is a series of high elevation mountain basins up near Bear Lake (just off Logan Canyon). The colder, dense air sinks into the basins at night. Perfect location and topography allows for one of the coldest spots in the country. Just amazing that it can be a well-above normal day throughout Utah, but still be the coldest spot nationally for the date.
So.... The question many of you have been asking and I have been desperately searching for is "When is this heat going to end?".... Well, the worst of it should now be behind us. I would be very surprised if the Wasatch Front came close to 100F again this year. In fact, the number of days in the 90s is likely numbered as well. It will remain hot this week with temps about 5-10 degrees above normal. A more significant cooldown is likely early next week where temps may actually be below normal.
As for precipitation, there are some light showers around the area today. We should have better chances for showers on Thursday and Friday and again perhaps on Sunday. This moisture is much-needed as August started with some strong storms but then turned bone dry for the rest of the month. Much of the desert SW is experiencing one of the driest monsoon seasons on record.
September is a transition month. In SLC, the average high temp to start the month is 86F and by the end of the month it is 72F -- a drop of 14F during those 30 days. Up at in the Wasatch (Alta), the average high temps drops all the way down to the low 50s by the end of the month. Snow is also a possibility, especially later in the month. The town of Alta has received measurable snowfall in about half of the Septembers since record keeping began. The snowiest September brought 45" in 1982!
When I look at the extended forecast, I am seeing models at times showing the possibility of deeper, colder troughs impacting the area. A couple days ago, the GFS actually showed some cold temps and light snow for the highest elevations. Unsurprisingly, the model backed away from that specific idea, but it is an indicator that the seasons are most definitely changing. I'm checking models daily now and will let you know as soon as we have more concrete chances for winter-like weather. Until then, outdoor activities that were stymied by summer heat should become more enjoyable. I certainly am looking forward to hiking and riding my bike in somewhat cooler weather, and hopefully on trails with a bit of moisture in the soil.
For those of you looking for a seasonal forecast, my answer is still the same. I have no idea. Seasonal forecasts are almost impossible and Utah is notoriously immune to typical seasonal synoptic influencers like ENSO. Let's just hope for the best! I will say this, we have had many years of fairly slow starts to the season. I wouldn't mind getting a big storm or two in late October to get a base going a bit earlier.
Evan | OpenSnow
P.S. I've seen Old Farmer's and Farmer's Almanacs posted recently. Please don't put any stock in these. There are many articles written you can find that show how hilariously inaccurate these typically are.
P.P.S. I will henceforth be posting on a "when needed" basis. Usually I post one a week or so in September, but I may post more or less depending on if there is anything interesting in the forecast.
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