GOES-17 high resolution visible satellite captured the Hunga Tonga volcano blowing its top. How high did it shoot? Professor John Peters suggests it might’ve reached the Stratospheric canopy. That’s over 100,000 feet or higher into the vertical atmosphere.
Here’s the Infrared channel from GOES-17. Notice the shockwaves –>
The magnitude of the eruption is being called a once-in-a-decade-event. It was so powerful it sent atmospheric shockwaves around the world.
There was more than one atmospheric shockwave. I’ve seen evidence of three separate waves, at different magnitudes, at different times, and traveling at different directions like waves in a pond.
Here’s one shockwave timelapse courtesy Daryl Herzmann.
Primary storm track favors the Northeast with numerous storm systems, Alberta Clippers, lake effect, and cold temperatures.
Western high pressure remains in place with occasional cold fronts sneaking through the periphery running through ID, MT, WY, CO and UT. This is in-line with a peaking La Nina pattern.
When will a larger pattern change hit the Intermountain West? Potentially around 2/1 when the Pacific North American (PNA) oscillation turns negative (see forecast below).
Infrared satellite shows the storm track with Western ridge and Eastern trough. Occasional cold fronts will sneak through the periphery of the Western ridge next two weeks.
Snow & Blowing
Mount Washington recorded a 121mph wind gust Monday morning. It’s snowing and blowing at Okemo and Killington, VT.
Take a look at this video of a chair at Okemo blowing wildly!
Fronts Sneak Through
One of those cold fronts races through WY, MT, ID, UT, and CO this Thursday night-Friday (1/21). Notice the dip in the jet stream.
We could see a similar cold front on 1/24-1/25 race through MT, WY, ID, UT, and CO.
This pattern is in-line with a peaking La Nina pattern.
La Nina forecast:
Looking Down the Road
When will the Intermountain West see a larger pattern change? Potentially around 2/1. The Pacific North American (PNA) pattern turns negative towards the end of January. Negative PNA stacks the odds in favor of colder/stormier for the West.
This agrees with the forecast pressure pattern around 2/1.
The West is largely dominated by high pressure. A few small cold fronts will sneak through the eastern periphery through 1/23 with minor snow accumulation in MT, WY, UT, and CO.
Ski the Northeast this Sunday-Monday with a Nor` Easter on tap.
When will this pattern change for the Intermountain West? It could be a long wait and confidence is low. Potentially by 1/29 or later.
Infrared satellite shows the storm track and lack of activity across most of the West.
Looking down the road
A few small cold fronts will sneak through the eastern periphery of the Western high pressure. But, a larger pattern change could be a long way off. Below is one possible scenario around 1/29 with lower pressures building across the Intermountain West.
Let’s look at my snow forecast in two time periods.
1 small cold front sneaks through with minor snow in MT, CO.
1-2 cold fronts sneak through with minor snow in WY, MT, UT, CO.
I talked with Dale Atkins of Alpine Rescue Team about how this technology works and how it will be used. Atkins has been involved in avalanche rescues since the 1970s.
Search and Rescue (SAR) is a two-part operation and involves several agencies. First, you must locate the missing the person(s) before any rescue can be performed. Atkins said, “This is another tool in our toolbox. The helicopter can cover great distances in a short amount of time.” Atkins stressed to me that this technology can’t be used for all SAR missions, but when deployed it will likely increase SAR efficiency.
Weather, type of emergency call, location of emergency, and size of avalanche are all considered before Flight for Life is deployed.
“I could see using this technology for very large avalanches with numerous missing people. It could be used just outside of ski area boundaries. I could see using this technology in remote locations with numerous small avalanches that would normally take ground crews a long time to search,” Atkins said.
Colorado Avalanche Risk
Colorado leads the United States in avalanche deaths per year. In between storm cycles, we see numerous sunny, dry days dominated by high pressure. These frequent changes in temperature and humidity create rotten snow layers (snow faceting).
Atkins also says we have a large population with easy access to high risk terrain.
As we wrapped up our chat, Atkins said staying safe in the backcountry is largely about terrain selection. “Know where you’re going. How steep is it? Are there signs of other avalanches? How stable is the snowpack? Get educated before buying any gear.”
A cold front sneaks through the eastern periphery of this Western high pressure on Friday 1/14.
This fast-moving cold front delivers light snow accumulation to Montana, Wyoming, and Colorado on Friday 1/14. Then it’s back to dry weather for a week.
The most active weather occurs in British Columbia and at times WA.
When will a larger pattern change occur for the Intermountain West? Data is mixed and confidence is low. There are signs of a stronger cold front around the 22nd or later, but even this could be optimistic.
The infrared satellite shows the storm track. The jet stream remains most active in British Columbia and at times WA.
Looking down the road, a stronger cold front might brush the Intermountain West around 1/22 or later.
A minor, fast-moving cold front hits MT, WY, and CO on 1/14 then it turns dry until 1/22-ish.
The snow you see in MT, WY, and CO occurs on/around 1/22.