Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Weather Present and Past

Let's get the present weather out of the way quickly.  A front will be moving through northern Utah this morning, with the accompanying precipitation just about to move into the Salt Lake Valley at 8 am MST.
Source: NCAR/RAL
Typically a radar image like that in early March would be cause for extreme alarm as snow moves in during the morning rush hour, but alas, this year is not normal and instead we'll see rain during this event with perhaps a few flakes on the upper benches as it winds down.  There will be a few inches of snow for the mountains.

Now, let's look back at the past weather and build upon yesterday's "image of the day," which showed the remarkable increase in snowpack in February at Tony Grove Lake in the Logan Area Mountains.
Source: NWS/NRCS
During February, Tony Grove Lake and the northern Utah mountains down to about Mount Timpanogos were on the southern periphery of a remarkable corridor of heavy snow.  Many areas of western Montana, Wyoming, and northern Colorado were already having a decent snow year, but now have snowpacks well above average.  Northern Utah was struggling, but many areas have now caught up and are either near or above average.

Source: NRCS
Looking for a possible year without a summer?  Look no farther than Wyoming's Wind River Range.  How about this trace from the Kendall Ranger Station Snotel at 7740 feet.   

Source: NWS
Snowpack there was running near average until early February, afterwhich they were pounded, with the snowpack snow water equivalent climbing from about 9 to more than 20 inches.  It now sits at 204% of median for the date and 176% of peak median for the cool season.  This and other Wind River Snotels basically sit at relatively low elevation.  The upper elevation Wind Rivers must be well buried and it will likely be a very late melt out in the alpine this summer.  

Moving to the Tetons, the Phillips Bench Snotel at 8200 ft just northeast of Teton Pass went from about 14 to more than 30 inches.  Not too shabby.

Source: NWS

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