Friday, May 20, 2016

Another Blow Is Coming

It was an eventful day yesterday with a power outage on campus in the morning, storms in the late afternoon (northern Wasatch Front) and evening (Salt Lake Valley), and more power outages overnight.  The Salt Lake Tribune reports that 85,000 people lost power overnight after a "cascade of outages" struck numerous areas of the Wasatch Front an Tooele.  If high winds were indeed the cause, chalk this one up to cheapness.  Bury those electrical lines and we wouldn't be as vulnerable to these events.

Turning from commentary to weather, I mentioned in Wednesday's post that the cold front would tease us Thursday afternoon and then retreat back to the north and the west and that's exactly what has happened.  Check out how the frontal precipitation band pushes into northern Utah, doesn't like what it finds (insert your favorite colorful reason why here), and then decides to tuck tail and move back to the north and west.

You don't see that every day and it is a result of the digging trough along the Pacific coast, which has resulted in a backing (counterclockwise turning) and intensification of the flow over the western interior.  So far, that flow intensification hasn't been felt on the ground in most of the Salt Lake Valley.  There are, however, hints that things are going to change as the day progresses.  Note, for example, the 40 knot flow at Stockton Bar and 30 knot flow at Dugway in the MesoWest plot below.

Those are areas where the cold pool from last night's storm has mixed out.  That cold pool is currently preventing the strong flow from aloft from mixing to the surface in the Salt Lake Valley and some other lowland locations.  Indeed, the morning sounding shows a deep cold pool, but it is topped by strong flow, suggesting that we'll see a rapid increase in wind speed once that cold pool has been eroded.

And, the NAM forecast for 0000 UTC (6 PM MDT) this afternoon shows a band of 700-mb flow of 40-50 knots extending from southwest Utah over the Salt Lake Valley.  Another blow is coming.

So, if you are looking at the limp flags this morning and are wondering if the high-wind warning issued by the NWS for western Utah and the Salt Lake Valley is going to verify, have no fear.

Soon those winds will be here and they may be bringing dust with them.

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