Thursday, May 21, 2015

The Memorial Day Weekend Forecast

In the Harold Ramis directed movie Groundhog Day, a weatherman played by Bill Murray relives the same day over and over and over again.  

I've thought of that movie a lot the past week or two and it suspect you will to as we move forward through Memorial Day weekend.

The bottom line is that the unsettled weather will likely persist over the state through the weekend.  Just watch the NAM forecast below which runs through Sunday afternoon and you get a good idea of what we're looking at.  

Yup, showers and thunderstorms with some variations in the timing, coverage and intensity of precipitation from day to day.  That's the pessimistic view.  The optimistic view is that there will be  some breaks where you can get in outdoor activities and there are no unusually cold airmasses making an appearance.  Nevertheless, keep the shower and thunderstorm threat in mind during your outdoor recreating.  Move indoors or into a closed vehicle if you can hear thunder, etc.

If you are thinking of skiing, this is a pattern of primarily hit-and-miss upper-elevation snow showers that are impossible to time.  Really for good freshies this time of year you want something to keep it snowing fairly hard for an extended period as happened last weekend, but right now I don't see anything to organize the precipitation in that manner.  Nevertheless,  this is an extended forecast and I can't rule it out if we get a bit better large-scale forcing than advertised in the latest model runs. I expect snow levels to be fairly high this weekend, perhaps in the 8500-9500 foot range, except during periods with stronger precipitation when they might lower temporarily.  Daytime maximum temperatures will probably reach near or above freezing even at 11,000 feet.  What can I say, it's late May.  Get on it if it starts snowing hard for an extended period, otherwise be thankful the snirt is still buried.


  1. Curious. How much snow has fallen in the upper Central Wasatch since the 16 inches that fell last weekend. For example, at mid-mountain at Alta or Snowbird? Also, what elevation has the snow line been generally at? 8500 feet seems too low, based on what I can see below the higher peaks of SL County. Thanks.

    1. Michael:

      It depends on the definition of the snow level. There's the elevation down to which you can find snow falling and the elevation at which you find accumulating, measurable snow (typically higher than the former this time of year). I was thinking of the former in my comments above.

      Further complicating the matter is that the snow level in these intense thunderstorms can lower temporarily by a considerable amount, only to rise rapidly once the precipitation rates weaken. I would expect to see considerable variability in snow level through the weekend during these storms.

      I guess if you mean snow line in terms of where is there snow on the ground, it's pretty much above 8500 feet on north aspects in Little Cottonwood, although you can find patches down to the base of Snowbird. The situation is worse on other aspects.

  2. Would you say an outdoor concert would get cancelled due to lightning tomorrow night? Thanks.