The weather was absolutely perfect for skiing today: sunny, mild but not warm, and almost no wind. I think most of the USW forecasters were out on the slopes today, hopefully you got out to enjoy it too. Tomorrow will be a similarly awesome ski day, although with slightly more wind and some high clouds. Nothing too bad though.
As Tom mentioned, a strong ridge of high pressure will be taking over the Western U.S. for the next week or so. The big warm up really starts on Monday...temps in the 30s and 40s in the mountains and poor air quality in the valleys. The south, east, and west facing slopes will go through a melt-freeze cycle all week, but *fingers crossed* the north-facing slopes above 9,000ft will hopefully avoid the crustiness as long as no mid-level clouds move in during this warm spell. This phenomenon is known as "greenhousing," but it looks like we'll avoid it...skies will be sunny through at least mid week.
When will the ridge break down? This is difficult to tell, as these events (particularly the strong ones) tend to be very persistent. Looks like at least 7 days. We'll keep you posted, but enjoy the sun and almost spring-like warmth in the meantime.
We were left with a nice, surprising parting gift last night. LCC worked it’s magic and produced 12-13” at Snowbird and Alta, while most other resorts in the central and northern Wasatch reported 3-5”. With most forecasts calling for only 2-4”, even the snowfall outside of LCC was on the upper end of expected totals. If you can, get out and enjoy this surprise powder day...it doesn’t look like we’ll have another one for at least the next week.
All models show a strong ridge building into the region for the next 7-10 days. This means sunny, calm, and warm conditions up in the mountains and pollution in the valley. By the middle of next week, 700 mb (crest level) temperatures may reach +3 or 4°C, which means conditions will be Spring-like. There are some signs that a trough will move back into the region towards the middle of February. Let’s hope this comes to fruition and brings some powder along with it.
Update: Cold Nw'ly flow really worked it's magic last night with up to a foot in the Cottonwoods. Go get the freshies if you can. It's the last we'll see for at least the next week.
Right now the last round of precipitation, albeit unimpressive, is moving through Nrn Utah. I wouldn’t expect much, but we might be able to squeeze out at least a few more inches of cold smoke (probably a bit more in the Cottonwoods). Heading into the weekend temperatures will gradually warm to more seasonable values. If you’re a backcountry skier I’d recommend getting after it this weekend while the powder from last weekend’s storm remains preserved by the colder temperatures. Be alert if you do travel outside of resort boundaries, however, as a considerable danger for avalanches still exists on many aspects (https://utahavalanchecenter.org/).
Starting next week everything will get nuked by the sun and warming temperatures thanks to a ridge of high pressure that will establish itself across Utah. This also means valley inversions returning for most of the state, and unfortunately there’s high confidence that this ridge will remain firmly entrenched across Utah through at least the better part of next week. 700mb temperatures are projected to increase to 2-3 Celsius, meaning it will be downright toasty on the slopes starting Monday. For those that enjoy spring skiing, have at it next week. Most resorts will likely see high temperatures into the 40s. In terms of the backcountry skiing this will likely ruin any remaining powder shots. If we get into a good cycle of warm > 35F days and cold below freezing nights we could enter a good corn cycle, though it’s still a little early in the season.
According to the law of supply and demand, when the demand curve shifts to the right (higher demand for a good or service), the responsibility of the producers is to meet these demands and supply enough goods to result in an equilibrium price. Unfortunately, this is not always how it works with the atmosphere, but it sure is interesting to think about, especially if you have been up to the canyons as of late on a weekend.. The horror! It took me 2 hours to get to the end of LCC from downtown SLC last Saturday. So getting to the reason I probably gave you awful flashbacks of freshman year econ.. We've had a good year of snow, about average in SWE, but FAR better than last year's dismal showing. My theory is similar to the supply and demand, (except reversed.. stick with me here..) all these sweet powder days (supply) has gotten everyone excited about Utah skiing again and sent all mountain recreationalists (demanding to shred said pow) coming back in droves. As with everything you gotta take the good with the bad... In the coming weeks we are going to see that supply of snow shut off (this is the bad part) so *hopefully* all those fair weather skiers will see themselves out and we will be able to find parking spots at our beloved resorts across the state, YAY! See the glass half full, friends. Now for the forecast..
As aluded to above, tomorrow (Thursday) appears to be our last shot at a few inches of snow until mid-February. a low-amplitude short wave trough will make an appearance, albeit quick, on Thursday afternoon. 700 mb temps will be COLD (-11 to -13) and winds will start southwesterly and quickly transition to northwesterly as this small trough goes on its way. The GFS, per usual, is being quite generous giving the Cottonwoods half an inch of liquid and other areas about .15", while the Euro has given all of northern Utah a uniform .1" through Friday. Given the unimpressive set-up, I will say 2-6" possible for the Cottonwoods, with 1-4" at other resorts like PC/Canyons, Pow Mow, Sundance, etc.
Long term, I have one word for you: Ridge. As a skier/boarder, that's really all you need to know. But remember the positives, maybe you'll have some awesome bluebird days on a far less crowded mountain. Hopefully next week I will have some better news for you!
Two big stories:
1. It is cold up there! Temperatures will increase slowly over the next week, but an increase from 0 F to 10 F still means it is pretty cold. Hand and toe warmers will really be appreciated by those sensitive to the low temps.
2. Thursday afternoon - evening storm. The GFS control run has a lot of moisture coming in a quick hitter bringing up to 12" to the high Cottonwoods. The NAM puts the moisture a little bit ahead of the trough, so it never quite gets cold enough when the moisture is there, dropping only 2". The range of the ensemble of the Canadian and GFS matches the range of the ECMWF ensemble, and of the control runs, that is 2" to 12". What a crap shoot!
The job of the meteorologist is to communicate the most likely and the range of outcomes, right? Well the ensembles cluster around 0.3" of water equivalent, which would be about 6" of snow. Bust scenario we only get a third of that, boom scenario we get a foot. So I'm forecasting 4"-8" for northern Utah resorts as the most likely, but the tails of the distribution go both ways.
Either way that will be the last snow for a little while as long as the models can see. It looks like a big old ridge will set up after this, so no matter what it snows it might be your last chance for resort freshies for a little while. Enjoy the cold smoke!