Tuesday, May 19, 2015

It's Been Pouring Cats and Dogs!

I haven't read it yet, but given the weather we have had the past two weeks, I think we should all run out and pick up Cynthia Barnett's new book Rain.  

Over the past 14 days, precipitation is well above average statewide, with large portions of the state running more than 300% above average.  
Source: weather.gov
In the Salt Lake Valley, Alta is the climatologically wettest regular observing site and has picked up 7.65 inches of precipitation so far this month (not including overnight and possibly part of the day yesterday).  A good chunk of that total fell over the weekend when the upper elevations got 16 inches of high density snow.  

Source: NOAA Regional Climate Centers
The Salt Lake City International Airport is the climatologically driest location and has still recorded 3.38" of precipitation (through midnight MST last night), nearly three times average.   

How does that stack up relative to past Mays?  Records are pretty spotty at Alta, but May 1981, 1983, and 1986 produced more than 9 inches of precipitation.  

At Salt Lake City, the 3.38" we had through May 18th would be good for the 16th wettest (time series below based on observations from the Salt Lake City area prior to the establishment of the Salt Lake city International Airport).  Two Mays have had more than 5 inches of precipitation, 2011 (5.14") and 1908 (5.76").  We have some time to catch up though as those are totals for the entire month.  

Surely you remember May 2011?  If not, let me refresh your memory as I always like looking back on the winter of 2010/11.

Memorial Day Weekend, May 30, 2011
It's wind scoured here, but at 8 am that morning Alta-Collins had recorded 10" new with a 193" settled snow depth
BDOME: Best Day of May Ever
There may be some variations in precipitation coverage and intensity from day to day, but the weather looks unsettled for the next 7 days.  We will probably be climbing up the rankings for May rainfall.  A minus with regards to skiing this weekend is that it appears it will be a bit warmer than last weekend and I'm not seeing a precipitation system as organized as what we got Saturday night.  Nevertheless, one can always hope as we see how things come together.  


  1. I tried to get a mountain bike ride on Memorial Day weekend 2011 in Park City. Got rained on, sleeted on and snowed on. Had no gloves, and got wet and cold. The Park City fire station at Deer Valley provided shelter and gave me and my bike a ride back to my car on a fire engine. :)

  2. How much snow do you think Alta has gotten since the resort closed in April?

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    2. My bad...

      It depends strongly on elevation and increases dramatically from the base to mid-mountain. At Alta-Collins (mid mountain), I would guess the total snowfall since May 1 is about 30-40 inches based on a quick look at the total snow-depth changes. Total water equivalent is about 5.5 inches at that location, which equates to a water content of 14-18%, so that seems reasonable.

    3. Thanks Jim. I've been up in the Uintas to Bald Mt Pass a few times recently and they've gotten a lot of now as well.

    4. a lot of snow