Park City Blog

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Guest Post: Long Range Forecast

Brian McInerney, a hydrologist for the National Weather Service in Salt Lake City, has been kind enough to share his insights into the coming winter with us, here are his thoughts:

The 2010 winter season is closing in fast, and the question on everyone's mind is what type of winter will we experience this year?  If you look at the winter of 2009, the weather was ed off.  There was very little average conditions.  We started late with snowfall only starting around mid-December, with copious snowfall through early January.  This followed a dry spell for some time with heavy snows in February.  Once we got comfortable with an adequate snowpack, it started melting off in early March, only to be followed by record setting snowfall in late March.  Spring conditions were somewhat normal, only to be followed by record June rainfall near 400 - 500% of normal.  If anyone could have predicted that type of weather pattern accurately, they would be wealthy by now.

As far as the conditions setting up 2010, we are currently in a Moderate El Nino phase. El Nino looks at the sea surface temperature of the Equatorial Pacific Region.  Typically, when this area of the globe produces warmer than average sea surface temperatures, the Desert southwest becomes cooler and wetter, and the Pacific northwest b  For Utah, Southern Utah has a better than average chance of becoming cooler and wetter with the warmer sea surface temps.  Unfortunately, as Northern Utah lies in between these two areas, the long range forecast skill is very weak.  In reality, any forecast that goes out beyond 5 - 7 days has very little science to back it up.  In essence, we'll have to look out 5 - 7 days ahead, and hope for the best.  It would be nice to have a long range forecast that has skill, but that's life.  Let's hope the switch stays on lots longer than it's turned off.

Let's hope that switch stays on and thanks for your time Brian!

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