Friday, December 12, 2014

Let's Try This Again!

Yesterday was one of the more frustrating days I can remember as a meteorologist.  Temperatures at the Salt Lake Airport simply refused to budge.  The meteogram below shows how the day went.  We were 55º before 11 am, and still could only top out at 57ºF.  Granted, that's still 19ºF above average, but it fell well short of my expectations.

Source: MesoWest
The development of fairly thick cloud cover didn't help any, but I'm still amazed that the strong flow couldn't scour out the shallow stable layer and lens of cool air that was camped over the Salt Lake Valley.  You can see both the strong flow and the shallow stable layer in the afternoon sounding below.  If we had scoured out that layer, we would have likely had a record high for the day.

Source: SPC
So, let's do this again today.  Once again we have everything in place.  Strong winds aloft (even stronger than yesterday is likely), a warm airmass, and an existing maximum temperature record for the day of 61ºF.  In addition, we're already 50ºF (warmer than yesterday, at least I got that right) and we have a well developed dry slot moving over us to give us at least a few hours of sun.

Therefore, I'm going to stick to my guns and say we will tie or break the record for today and we will see temperatures in the low 60s.  I'm stubborn if anything.

Forecasts for tonight and Saturday continue to suggest a modest snow event in the central Wasatch as the tremendous storm system that has been clobbering California has largely been shredded by the Sierra Nevada (as can be inferred by the image above), leaving us just a few scraps.  The models call for an upper-level front to pass tonight, giving us a burst of mountain snowfall and valley showers, and then a surface-based front to pass during the day tomorrow.  Total snowfall in the central Wasatch will largely depend on how productive these two features can be, especially the latter.  I'll stick with something in the 4-8 inch range for total snowfall through 5 PM Saturday at Alta.

Events and Announcements:

I've joined the dark side and you can now follow me on Twitter: @ProfessorPowder.  Tip of the hat to Backcountry Magazine for the clever handle.

I'll be giving a talk on my new book Secrets of the Greatest Snow on Earth at the Alta Lodge tonight at 5:30 PM, with a book signing to follow.  King's English will be there selling books if you need to pick one up.


  1. you suck and so does utah weather

  2. Hey Jim, quick question on the Sierra reducing the snowfall in the Wasatch with this storm system. Wondering why the eastern ranges in Nevada such as those found in Great Basin National Park and the Rubys are getting dumped on when we're only getting leftovers? Granted, it seems like they're getting less snow than the Sierra, but they're still getting a lot more than the Wasatch. Any insight would be awesome. Thanks!

    1. I'm not sure what you are referring to. It just started snowing in the Rubies this morning. I don't think it's done much of anything yet in Great Basin.

      The NWS forecasts for those areas are calling for quite a bit more snow. This is a bit of a result of Great Basin being further south (the southern piece of the storm is stronger to the south) and, for the Rubies, the surface front moving more slowly through northern Nevada.