Monday, April 30, 2018

Slow Moving Trough Bringing Desperately Needed Valley Rain

Over the weekend, I noticed that my lawn and gardens were looking thirsty.  Awfully thirsty.

April is climatologically the wettest month of the year in Salt Lake City.  The long-term average monthly precipitation since 1928 is 2.10".  Through yesterday, the airport reported only 1.19" for the month.  

However, nearly all of that precipitation fell through April 18.  Since then we had only a trace until it started to rain last night.  In addition, it' has been windy and warm.  Saturday in particular featured a record high of 87˚F with dry southerly winds.  

Thankfully, a slow moving cold front delivered desperately needed valley rain last night.  If you look carefully at the radar imagery this morning, you can see the flow shifting from SW to NW across the trough and how the trough is slow moving across northern Utah.  More importantly, there's plenty of valley rain.  

Precipitation totals through about 8 AM include 0.34" at the Salt Lake City International Airport, 0.47" at the University of Utah, 0.69" near the mouth of Mill Creek Canyon, and 0.67" near the mouth of Little Cottonwood Canyon.  Observations from Alta-Collins aren't currently feeding into MesoWest, but suggests 4" accumulation at 9700 feet as of 7 AM.   

Valley rain and mountain snow will continue this morning and transition to showers this afternoon.  Snow levels are expected to be 5,500-6,500 feet, but we may see snow at times down to bench levels.  

If you are thinking of calling in sick for some powder turns, consider that ski conditions this weekend were best described as "summery."  The snowpack was baked.  You could find a smooth surface in lower angle areas, but many steeper areas were lumpy from sloughs, rollerballs, and the like.  They probably froze into a coral reef overnight.  

Finding a those areas with a smooth underlying surface is going to be key today.  I'll be watching and seeing how things stack up today to see if sneaking out later or early tomorrow might be worth the effort.  

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