Summer is starting to wind down and autumn is approaching. A late-arriving but now active monsoon is ongoing. Any updates on winter predictions?
Short Term Forecast
It's been a minute, but summer is starting to come to a close and I'm thinking, nay, dreaming, about skiing powder again. Technically, we only have 12 more days of meteorological summer! Yay! Summer, so far, has been hot and dry -- but aren't all summers around here? When we compared it to the long-term average, this would be about average precipitation (Jun-Aug) with a bit above normal temperatures. However, comparing it to more recent history, it seems much more comfortable. 2021 and 2022 had Utah's hottest summers ever -- this year we are running about 3.5F below the mean temperatures from the previous two years. June and July were very dry with a late-to-arrive monsoon but things have picked up and we have had a wet August so far which has brought us more in line with typical summer precip amounts.
Speaking of precipitation, Hurricane Hilary is currently the talk of the West right now. We expect this to move north into Baja California and Southern California deserts this weekend into early next week. OpenSnow's Europe and South America forecaster, Luke, did a great write-up on this event and its potential. I haven't been paying close attention, but a quick look at today's 12z Euro ensemble mean shows a broad swath of 2+" of rain in the Mojave Desert:
Some mountain areas could easily see 5" or more of rain. These areas don't typically see widespread heavy rain, especially this time of year, so it will be interesting to see how this all plays out.
As for us in Utah, we will continue to see moisture scraps with daily storm chances through next week. Heavy, flooding rains look unlikely unless we see a major trend eastward in the current storm track. The main benefit will be significantly cooler temps with highs reaching only the low 80s for much of next week in the Wasatch Front valleys.
As for the upcoming season, I spoke in my season wrap-up post a few months ago about how it was looking like El Niño would be likely for the upcoming winter. No change to that thinking -- in fact, it's been developing even stronger than anticipated and could be a very strong event. It's also likely contributing to some of the record global temperatures we have seen this summer.
We did another write-up on El Niño and its potential impacts which I recommend reading if you haven't already. As for us in Utah, I will say what I always say about ENSO (El Niño/La Niña) -- we are not heavily influenced either way. All I can say with any confidence is there may be a slightly elevated chance of southern Utah doing better -- but we are really only loading the dice 5% at most either way, which means there's still a ~45% chance they could have a below-normal winter. As for Northern Utah, it seems, historically, to be a crapshoot. Flip of a coin! All we can do is hope that we do a 1981-84 and see three epic winters in a row.
I'll be doing a little traveling over the next month and a half before I settle in for winter. Posts should start to be more frequent by October 1 -- or if we see some snow in the forecast before then.
Evan | OpenSnow