Thursday, December 11, 2014

Storm Warmth and Storm Scraps

Some small lenticular clouds over the Wasatch this morning are a sign of strengthening flow ahead of an approaching storm.
After several days of monotony, the next few days look to be quite interesting in northern Utah.

First, we have the warm before the storm.  There are already signs that the southerly flow is increasing and that we're in for record warmth today.  Note the lenticulars over the Wasatch this morning (above), plus, in the morning sounding, there's 25 knot flow just 200 m above the surface.  Thus, it looks like we'll mix out the stable airmass that's been over the Salt Lake Valley and keeping our afternoon temperatures "only" in the 50s.  In fact, the mix out has already begun as temperatures at the airport after midnight climbed into the 40s and are already running 10 degrees warmer than yesterday.  

The average high for today is only 38ºF.  The record high is 62ºF and I think that will probably fall today.  

Tomorrow will be another warm and windy day, after which the forecast gets dicey.  

California is currently getting pounded by an intense storm system.  As is often the case, the Sierra Nevada are tearing the system the shreds and ultimately what we get depends on the leftovers and the ability of the storm to reorganize as it approaches Utah.  

I've been watching forecasts of this storm now for days.  Earlier in the week, the models were calling for a fairly major storm, but every day they got a little drier.  This morning I came in and no surprise they are even drier than yesterday.  Currently most of the models are suggesting we'll be getting a highly disorganized series of storm scraps Friday night and Saturday.  There are a few members of the various forecast ensembles that give us a major dumpage, but most are now calling for a modest event.  

The good news is we should get something out of the storm.  Based on the latest forecasts, I'd probably call for a total of 4-8 inches total at Alta through 5 PM MST Saturday, with perhaps a bit more frosting Saturday night.  There's always hope that one of the wetter forecasts comes through, but the odds favor something more modest.

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 at 5:30 PM on Friday December 12th, with a book signing to follow.  King's English will be there selling books if you need to pick one up.

Want a free signed copy of Secrets of the Greatest Snow on Earth?  It's one of the daily prizes for Ski Utah's 12 Days of Yeti Bling social media contest.  


  1. I've read the book. I enjoyed the book. I think that I know more about snowboarding than you do, but everything else was new knowledge well taught.

    By the way, have you ever been up to Alta? -- I hear there is some nice powder there on some days, but they don't allow boards, so I don't know for sure.

    Seriously, it's a great piece that should be of interest to anybody fascinated by meteorology, mountains, snow and/or snow sports.

    I just finished it this evening and I'll do a real review once I sort out what's important from what's fun. (That's hard to do with this book -- you have knack for making the hard stuff fun and you find ways of justifying the fun stuff as important -- not a bad trick.)