Monday, January 27, 2020

Sneaker Storms and Winter Perspectives

I haven't been blogging much about the forecast of late and maybe that's a good thing.  I keep looking at the models and thinking the next storm is sort of ho hum, and then it overproduces, resulting in a so-called sneaker storm.

Last night provided yet another example.  SREF forecasts initialized at 0900 UTC 25 January (2 AM MST Saturday) produced anywhere from 3-12 inches with last night storm with a mean of about 8. 

Thusfar, we're up to a 12 inch total, at the top of the ensemble range, and it's still snowing. 

I could dig further, but who wants to jinx this run?  Let it keep coming.

Shifting gears, it's now January 27th, which puts us nearly 2/3 of the way through meteorological winter (December-February) and the snow accumulation season.  In the Salt Lake Valley, it's been a relatively mild meteorological winter with a mean temperature at the Salt Lake City Airport through Jan 26 of 34.6˚F, the 16th warmest on record (i.e., since 1875). 

The coldest temperature observed so far this winter at the airport is a relatively balmy 20˚F, which was the minimum on three days in December and two in January.  That's pretty pathetic.  We've never gone so deep into meteorological winter without a colder temperature.

Source: NOAA Regional Climate Centers
Note, however, that we did get below 20 on two days in October, but that's not winter.  It's fall.  Remember, on October 30 we had the coldest day on record in October with a low of 14˚F.  We haven't been within 6˚F of that this winter!  

Finally, a quick comment on the state of the snowpack.  It's been a good snow season, but the snowpack is not as fat as you might think.  The Snowbird SNOTEL sites at 148% of median, but as of yesterday elsewhere in the Salt Lake and Bountiful area mountains Brighton is 113%, Thaynes Canyon 111%, Mill-D North 114%, Parleys Summit 112%, Lookout Peak 125%, Louis Meadow 110%, Hardscrabble 105%, Parrish Creek 111%, Farmington 105%, and Farmington Lower 112%.  To the south, Timp Divide and Cascade Mountain are below median (94% and 89%, respectively).  

Last night's snow will help a bit, but if I was a water manager, I'd keep doing my snow dances.  

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