Saturday, February 15, 2020

Snow Report and Prospects

I finally returned to Salt Lake City last night after a week in Greenbelt, Maryland at the National Weather Service Weather Prediction Center. 

It was a good week professionally, but it was mostly cloudy and rainy and my exercise was limited to the stationary bike at the hotel and a walk through the University of Maryland campus.  The only evidence of mountain weather that I saw there was a post-frontal lenticular generated by the upstream Appalachians on Friday morning. 

Thus, I was chomping at the bit to get out this morning and headed up to Round Valley for an early morning skate.  Conditions were excellent.  The snow was firm and fast with a nice groomer buff on top.  I didn't even work hard and still came in with my fastest pace of the season. 

Having not been in the mountains yet, I can only assume that we are in need of a reset for touring and alpine skiing.  It looks pretty good that this will happen.  The NAM forecast loop below shows mountain precipitation spreading southward down the Wasatch Range tonight, intensifying and continuing tomorrow, and then periods of snow continuing into President's Day.

The storm starts out warm with 700 mb temperatures between -4.5˚C and -6˚C through tomorrow afternoon, so snow density tonight and tomorrow will be above average.  Our algorithms are suggesting around 10% water content during that period.  Later tomorrow, temperatures should fall some and we should get some drier snow, leading to right-side up conditions for Monday. 

At Alta, the NAM generates 5.5 inches through 5 PM Sunday and then another 4.5 inches through 5 PM Monday.  I often use the NAM as the low end for the range at Alta, which would mean 5-10" at Alta through 5 PM Sunday and another 4-8" through 5 PM Monday. 

The downscaled SREF mean gives somewhat similar numbers with a mean storm total by 5 PM Monday (18/00Z) of 15 inches and a range of 10-18".  Basically, a goldilocks storm.

My take is that tomorrow is a day of cream on crust that should improve with time as snow continues to accumulate.  Cooling beginning tomorrow afternoon should yield right-side-up snow on Monday, which could offer up some nice powder skiing.

Enjoy it.  We'll likely be mainly dry the rest of the work week after Monday and possibly into next weekend.

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