The past few days have really been something else with record heat, dense smoke, a major wind event, and cold temperatures with mountain snowfall. We will warm back up for the near future with calmer conditions.
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Short Term Forecast
What a crazy past few days this has been! Let's quickly sum up the events since Saturday.
On Saturday, high pressure over the west led to record hot temperatures. Salt Lake City saw just its 3rd ever triple-digit max temperature on Saturday. Only September 8, 1979 was a later 100F temp in SLC. On Sunday, it remained hot with smoke pouring into Utah from the west. Meanwhile, temperatures in California and off-shore winds combine to ravage the already hard hit state with even more wildfires. Some of the temperature records there were truly remarkable. For example, San Luis Obispo, only 9 miles from the coast reached 120F!!!! Just incredible.
On Monday, we saw winds pick up ahead of a deep and cold trough that was dropping into the Northern Rockies. By Monday night, temps in Northern Utah had fallen dramatically and snow was falling in the Wasatch.
While the cool air was welcome, the "backdoor" nature of this cold front and easterly flow was the perfect recipe for the worst downslope wind event since at least 2011. The amount of trees down along the Wasatch Front, and even in the mountains is astonishing. Usually we have most of the leaves off trees for these events, but this time the leaves acted like sails and they didn't stand a chance.
We are now left to clean up the mess left behind by this event. Temps are nice and cool but we should see them gradually rebound to near 90 in SLC by this weekend. The wildfire smoke is currently being pushed west out to sea, but it's only a matter of time before it works its way back to Utah.
Looking ahead to next week, there are some new signs in both major global models that we could be brushed by a system middle of next week. That may cool temps and even bring a chance for a few showers. We will have to watch that. The GFS shows indications that maybe, just maybe we could see a continuation of a progressive pattern with fall-like systems during the second half of September. This is quite a change from what models were showing up to this point, which was pretty much just high pressure over the interior west. Confidence is therefore low.
In other news, La Nina continues to strengthen in the Pacific. This doesn't mean too much for Utah, but at some point in the near-future I'll dig into the data of analog years and see if I can glean any useful insights.
Evan | OpenSnow
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