GFS Surface Chart
All Snow Version
Today – Monday
Snow today in the Pacific Northwest as the small system we talked about Friday has dropped 4-6 inches from Whistler Blackcomb, down to Timberline Resort in Oregon. That small wave will move southeast, though Utah today and add 3-6 more for Alta, Snowbird and Brighton, with Solitude, Park City and Deer Valley picking up an inch or two. Highs in the teens with light winds.
The small system reaches Colorado tonight, with 1-2 inches expected for most resorts, with the exception of San Juans, where we could see 2-4 for Wolf Creek. The system continues tomorrow in southern Colorado San Juan range. Expect 3-5 for Wolf Creek, with 1-3 likely for Telluride and Silverton. I would not be surprised if Crested Butte had another 1-3 as well, they seem to keep getting snow out of seemingly nowhere this year.
Wednesday Alberta Clipper
A small clipper will drop down Wednesday passing through western Montana, Wyoming and Colorado. Most mountains will receive a couple-three. I got that expression from my best friend growing up. If you’re like me, you might think it’s two threes, I tend to take things latterly. No, it’s just 2-3. He was from a small town and has a lot of goofy expressions.
The last time both of the above systems came thru they were stronger due to the strength of the MJO (Madden Jullian Oscillation) and the AO (Artic Oscillation) NAO (North Atlantic Oscillation) were deep in negative territory adding energy to the storm. Alta had 16 and led the Utah resorts. Colorados winner was Keystone with 5. For the clipper system, Utah’s Alta had 9, and Colorado actually out preformed Utah in this one, Beaver Creek had 12 and Arapahoe Basin had back-to-back powder days with 9 and 8.
Below are the current teleconnection charts for the AO NAO and PNA.
Madden Jillian Oscillation (from Friday)
Admiringly,I am not an expert on teleconnections. I leave that to the scientists in that line of work, However, what knowledge I have gained over these past few years studying the LRC, is that you have to at least have an understanding of how these teleconnections affect the pattern.
We have discussed many times, on the blog, the various teleconnections, such as the Arctic Oscillation (AO), the North Atlantic Oscillation. (NAO), ENSO (El Niño Southern Oscillation) and others.
One of the influences of this years pattern is another teleconnection, the Madden Jillian Oscillation, or MJO. The MJO is a variation in tropical weather, that occurs on a weekly or monthly time scale. It is an eastward moving storm that circles the globe, near the equator, that typically recurs, or oscillates, every 30 to 60 days.
The movement of the MJO can strengthen or weaken the status of ENSO El Niño or La Niña. In the diagram above, you can see the upward and downward motion created by the MJO in the atmosphere. When the MJO is in the right place in the Pacific, the storms we receive are amplified.
The strength of the MJO this year, is one of the reasons why we are having such great precipitation in the western US. When the MJO is in the wrong phase, or wrong place on the globe, our storms receive less energy. Of course, other teleconnections are involved as well, but the MJO is one of the factors in the strength of storms.
When you look back at last year’s pattern, it was pretty much below average precipitation throughout the western US, except parts of Washington, and Oregon. We had a very long cycle, 64 days, which was the second longest cycle length in the past 30 years.
The MJO was pretty much dormant last year, with the exception of Cycle 2, December 4 through January 10. During that time frame the MJO was in a similar position and strength as it has been for most of this year.
During that period of Cycle 2, we received heavy snowfall, from five different storms, during the period. Lake Tahoe received over 100 inches, between December 23 and December 29. Utah and Colorado resorts had snow during 23 out of 32 days. Alta had 176 inches, Crested Butte had 142. Then poof, the MJO went dormant, and we returned to mediocrely.
Presently, the MJO is in the Indian Ocean and is projected to be in phase 4 by the be of February. We wii keep monitoring this and see if they trend continues when the MJO enters Phases 5,6 and 7.
Thank you for reading the blog, as always, if you have any questions, or need personalized info for trip forecasts, please email me at Mike@FutureSnow.co
Long-Range Forecast Predictions thru March
Pacific Northwest Cascade Mountains
Lake Tahoe Sierra Mountains
Utah Wasatch Mountains
Colorado Rocky Mountains
Aspen, Aspen Highlands, Snowmass, Vail, Beaver Creek, Winter Park, Keystone, Arapahoe Basin, Breckenridge, Copper Mountain, Powderhorn, Ski Cooper, Telluride, Crested Butte, Silverton, Wolf Creek, Eldora, Loveland