Friday, November 4, 2011

Snow and Storm Chasing Opportunities

This morning we have a deep upper-level trough and cold front approaching us from the west.

At the moment, the heaviest mountain snows are probably falling in the Ruby Mountains near Elko where the frontal precipitation band is presently located.

The forecast for northern Utah is quite difficult for a few reasons.  First, our computer models have produced dramatically different solutions for tonight and tomorrow over the past few days.  Second, we have the potential for lake effect, which is always a wildcard.  The latest (1200 UTC initialized) NAM calls for precipitation to move into the Wasatch Front this evening, followed by persistent northwesterly 700-mb flow through tomorrow morning.

1200 UTC 4 Nov 2011 initialized NAM forecast valid 1200 UTC
(0600 UTC) 5 Nov 2011
I think we'll get something with the frontal band, but after that, it's a bit more of a crap shoot.  Will orographic or lake-effect snow get going?  I'm not really sure, but we hope to be out with the Doppler on Wheels examining this event in more detail.

One issue for our plans, however, is that the Doppler on Wheels was in San Francisco yesterday for a public exhibition and got stuck west of the Sierra when they closed Donner Pass.  The pass is now open, but we'll have to see how quickly the DOW will get to Salt Lake.

Note for University of Utah students: We will have a meeting @ 12:30 pm today in 711 WBB to discuss observing plans for tonight and tomorrow.  We may be deploying our mobile sounding units, mobile mesonet, and the DOW.  


  1. Great blog Jim!

    I'm still hanging out at Iberdrola Renewables in Portland, OR as a Wind Asset Meteorologist and enjoying the fast paced nature of the job forecasting power production at our wind farms here in WA/OR east of the Gorge. I forecast on time scales from an hour lead time to a twice-weekly 15-day forecast.

    Nice to see all the fun research going on at the U!

    Chris Callais, B.S. Atm Science 2010.

  2. Thanks Chris. Good to hear all is going well. The U is well represented in northwest wind-power forecasting!