Monday, January 26, 2015

Welcome to Bizzaro world.

Consider yourself transported to a Bizzaro world, one in which the upper-level flow is from the east and you can ski in short sleeves in January.

Here's the view of the Bizzaro world this morning.  The upper-level flow is what we call highly amplified, with a ridge over western North America and a deep trough over the eastern United States (Northeast skiers rejoice, dumpage is coming your way!).  There is also a closed upper-level low off of Baja California that will provide us with more Bizzaro weather in the near future.

Here's this morning's sounding from the Salt Lake City airport.  Note the deep easterly flow from 800–550 mb.  It will be an unusually short flight if you are coming to Salt Lake City from Chicago today.  Temperatures increase from 0ºC at the surface to 7.2ºC at 775 mb.  At 700 mb, roughly 10,000 feet, the free atmosphere temperature was 5.2ºC.

Source: University of Wyoming
That's quite steamy for late January.  The graph below shows the daily minimum (blue line), median (black line), and maximum (red line) 700-mb temperature in all available soundings taken at the Salt Lake City or Ogden airports since 1948.  I've annotated with the green line this morning's 700-mb temperature.  The record for the month of January is 7.2ºC (12Z Jan 20).  However, from January 21 to 10 March the highest on record is 5.8ºC (Feb 1).  So, we are very close to as hot as it gets at 700-mb for this time of year.  In fact, this morning's 700-mb temperature is about the median for June 1st.  If we had the June sun rather than the January sun, I'd be calling for a high at the airport of 73ºF.

Source: SPC
That closed low will move northward and bring a monsoon-like surge of moisture into the southwest that will spread into Utah tonight and tomorrow.  That sounds exciting, but we're missing the surface heating of summer and the models can't seem to get their act together and converge on a solution.  The 12Z NAM is going for only 0.11" of snow-water equivalent through 11 PM Wednesday, whereas the 6Z GFS is going for 0.8" (the 12Z run isn't available as I write this).  Your guess is as good as mine.  Hold a gun to my head and I'd go for 3-6" in upper Little Cottonwood by 11 PM Wed.


  1. I always thought that the guns came out after the forecast, not before.

  2. Way to warm for January! WRF Model forecast snow for the storm is not promising.

  3. Looking at mesowest this morning, the sites way in the Uintas are amazingly warm. Even Chepeta (over 12,000 feet) is reporting 45 degrees at 10:30 am. I don't know how accurate this is but it doesn't look like an outlier or anything compared to the surrounding sites. It will be interesting to see much of a thrashing the old records highs for today are going to get up at the mountain stations.