Lenticular Magic

My friend Scot Stewart shot the video and photo below on 2/13/2022.

These types of “spaceship clouds” are called lenticular clouds. They can also be called standing wave clouds. They’re created and maintained by strong winds aloft over mountainous terrain.

Lenticular cloud over the Colorado Rockies, 2/13/2022 Scot Stewart.
Lenticular cloud over the Colorado Rockies, 2/13/2022 Scot Stewart.

I’ve talked a lot about lenticular clouds in past mountain weather safety courses. Typically they are a strong indication of strong summit-level winds. They can mean turbulence to pilots.

I snapped this photo on March 10, 2014:

Lenticular cloud, Colorado Rockies, March 10, 2014.

Formation

They form through a unique combination of mountainous terrain, wind flow, and atmospheric stability.

Mountain wave formation, NWS/NOAA/COMET.

Two Western storm systems lined-up

Tomer’s Take

  • Two storm systems will be separated by a 2-3 day dry break.
  • First storm system: 2/15-2/17
  • Second storm system: 2/20-2/23
  • Second storm system appears stronger, colder.
  • End of February: High pressure might rebuild across the West.

Water vapor satellite shows the storm track and high pressure dislodged but the first western storm system. 2nd storm system waiting in the wings over the Pacific. Orange/red = drier air aloft.

Water vapor satellite, 2/15/2022 5am.

2nd Storm System

Below, notice the forecast pressure drop across the West. This occurs 2/20-2/23.

Forecast pressure anomalies valid 2/22/2022, GFS interpretation.

End of February

Data suggest high pressure might rebuild after the 2nd storm system through the end of February. Below, notice the higher forecast pressure anomalies. March might come in like a lamb.

Forecast pressure anomalies valid 2/28/2022, Euro interpretation.

Snow Forecast

2/15-2/19:

I’ve shaved (down) the Wasatch numbers for three days straight.

Inches of total snow 2/15-2/19.

2/20-2/24:

Inches of total snow 2/20-2/24.

Snow plume forecast for Cameron Pass, CO:

Inches of total snow accumulation over time.

Northeast, 2/15-2/24:

Inches of total snow 2/15-2/24.

For more analysis please watch my forecast video:

Western snow this week

Tomer’s Take

  • A storm system hits ID on 2/14, WY/MT/UT on 2/15, and CO/NM on 2/16. This is the largest storm system is 30+ days. Some of it’s energy is spent battling a large dome of high pressure.
  • Storm system only brushes CA with light snow, but could pave the way for a better snow chance down the road.
  • High pressure rebuilds for a few days.
  • A second storm system follows the path of the 1st around 2/20-2/23. This could be the stronger of the two storm systems with colder air.

Infrared satellite and storm track shows the high pressure currently being dislodged. This is the key to the 1st storm system. It will carve a path for a 2nd storm system around 2/20-2/23.

Infrared satellite 2/14/2022 5am.

2nd Storm System

Looking down the road, a second potentially stronger system follows the path of the 1st storm system. Below, notice the size of the trough and forecast pressure anomalies valid 2/22/2022.

Forecast pressure anomalies valid 2/22/2022, GFS interpretation.

Snow Forecast

2/14-2/20:

Inches of total snow 2/14-2/20.

2/20-2/23:

Inches of total snow 2/20-2/23.

Northeast, 2/14-2/23:

Inches of total snow 2/14-2/23.

Snow plume forecast, Jackson Hole:

Inches of total snow over time.

For more analysis please watch my forecast video:

Western storm system this week

Tomer’s Take

  • Finally, after weeks of high pressure and only minor, fast-moving cold fronts an actual storm system is lined-up.
  • It hits ID on 2/14, 2/15 WY/MT/UT, and 2/16 CO, NM.
  • This storm system is not a blockbuster, but it will pave the way for another storm system on 2/21-2/22.
  • Unfortunately, this storm system only brushes CA with light accumulation.

I did some backcountry skiing on Saturday in Colorado. Temps started below zero there was a couple inches of fresh snow. That’s been the pattern for the last 5 weeks with only fast-moving, minor cold fronts.

Enjoying the view on 2/12/2022, Colorado.

Here’s my full video forecast:

2/13/2022.

I include four snow forecasts in the video. Here’s one for the West from 2/13-2/20 taking into account this week’s storm system.

Inches of total snow 2/13-2/20.

Snow forecast next 8 days

Tomer’s Take

  • Minor, fast-moving cold front on 2/11 races south through MT, WY, CO, and NM. Light snow accumulation.
  • Alberta Clipper hits the Northeast late 2/11 through 2/12. Light snow accumulation plus some lake-effect.
  • Dry all weekend in the Pacific Northwest and British Columbia.
  • Larger storm system pierces the large Western high pressure ridge early next week, 2/15-2/17. This storm system delivers a shot of colder air as well. Strong wind above treeline.
  • Western high pressure rebuilds 2/18-2/21.

Infrared satellite and storm track shows the large Western high pressure ridge.

Infrared satellite and storm track, 2/11/2022 5am.

Long Range

High pressure rebuilds 2/18-2/21. Then it looks stormy again 2/22-2/24 with a trough of lower pressure sliding into the West breaking down the high pressure ridge.

Below, notices the forecast lower pressure anomalies across the West on 2/22-2/23.

Forecast pressure anomalies valid 2/22-2/23, GFS interpretation.

Requests

I’ve had a few requests, here’s an update.

Steamboat: 1-4″ 2/11. 2-6″ 2/16-2/17. High pressure 2/18-2/21. Snow 2/22-2/24.

Revelstoke BC: 3-6″ snow 2/15-2/18. 3-6″ 2/19-2/20.

Red Mountain BC: 1-3″ 2/14. 2-4″ 1/19-1/20.

Dallas Peak, CO: 1″ 2/11. 6-8″ 2/16-2/17. High pressure 2/18-2/21. Snow 2/22-2/24.

Snow Forecast

2/11-2/13:

Inches of total snow 2/11-2/13.

2/14-2/20:

Inches of total snow 2/14-2/20.

Northeast, 2/11-2/20:

Inches of total snow 2/11-2/20.

For more analysis please watch my forecast video:

Western Storm System Next Week

Tomer’s Take

  • A fast-moving, minor cold front races south through MT, WY, and CO through 2/11.
  • High pressure anchored over CA remains formidable.
  • Mostly dry weekend for the Pacific Northwest. Next storm arrives Monday.
  • A larger storm system pierces the Western high pressure ridge 2/14-2/16 with snow for WA, OR, CA, ID, UT, MT, WY, CO, NM. This is not a blockbuster snowstorm for most places.
  • This storm system loses some of it’s strength while breaking down the high. It could be a “one and done” storm system with high pressure rebuilding afterwards.

Infrared satellite shows the storm track and large Western high pressure.

Infrared satellite and storm track, 2/10/2022 5am.

Requests

I’ve had a few forecast requests.

  • Red Mountain BC: 1-4″ between 2/14-2/16.
  • Powder Mountain, UT: 1-3″ between 2/15-2/16.
  • Big Sky, MT: 6-12″ between 2/14-2/16.
  • Revelstoke BC: 2-6″ between 2/14-2/16. Possible active pattern 2/20-2/24.
  • Dallas Peak, CO: 3-6″ on 2/16. Gusts to 40mph on 2/15-2/16.

One and Done

After the 2/14-2/16 storm system, high pressure rebuilds across the West. Below, notice the higher pressure anomalies across the West on 2/20.

Forecast pressure anomalies valid 2/20/2022, GFS interpretation.

Snow Forecast

2/10-2/13:

Inches of total snow 2/10-2/13.

2/14-2/19:

Inches of total snow 2/14-2/19.

Northeast, 2/10-2/19:

Inches of total snow 2/10-2/19.

For more analysis please watch my forecast video:

Waiting Game: Long Range Outlook

Tomer’s Take

  • Abnormally dry pattern across the West with large high pressure dome through 2/13.
  • One minor, fast-moving cold front races through MT, WY, and CO between 2/10-2/11.
  • 3-day break in precipitation for the Pacific Northwest and British Columbia this weekend as storm track shifts north.
  • Two Alberta Clippers deliver light snow accumulation to the Northeast through 2/13.
  • Snow returns to the Intermountain West around 2/14-2/15, but it appears to be a “one and done” setup.

Water vapor satellite shows the storm track and large Western high pressure ridge. Orange/red colors = drier air aloft.

Water vapor satellite 2/9/2022 6am.

Waiting Game

The long dry stretch continues across CA, NV, and UT. Cold fronts are forced down the eastern periphery of the ridge through MT, WY, CO, and NM. This is what you might expect during a La Nina phase with some exceptions of course. The latest forecast keeps La Nina in place through Winter then gradually transitions to a “neutral phase” late Spring and early Summer. In the forecast below, negative (colder) anomalies = La Nina.

ENSO model predictions 2/9/2022.

A brief drop in pressures arrive 2/14-2/15, but it’s appears to be a “one and done” setup. High pressure rebuilds through 2/20.

Forecast pressure anomalies valid 2/20, GFS interpretation.

What occurs after 2/20?

The Pacific North American Pattern (PNA) stays lightly negative through 2/24. This suggests an active pattern across the Intermountain West can’t be ruled out. But, it’s not a strong signal.

Pacific North American Pattern (PNA), EURO interpretation.

Snow Forecast

2/9-2/13:

Inches of total snow 2/9-2/13.

2/14-2/18:

Inches of total snow 2/14-2/18.

Northeast, 2/9-2/18:

Inches of total snow 2/9-2/18.

For more analysis please watch my forecast video:

Snow forecast next 8 days

Tomer’s Take

  • Snow continues early today in NH, ME.
  • Western high pressure keeps snow chances low through 2/13.
  • Minor snowfall with a cold front races through MT, WY and into Colorado’s Central and Northern Mountains on 2/11.
  • More active pattern possible after 2/14 but the signal isn’t major.
  • In the Northeast, Alberta Clippers likely through 2/13.

Infrared satellite shows the storm track and large Western high pressure.

Infrared satellite and storm track 2/8/2022 5am.

Long Range

I’m still watching for a more active pattern across the West after 2/14. The change doesn’t look major, the signal might be short-lived, and confidence is middle of the road.

You’re looking at forecast pressure anomalies valid 2/16.

Forecast pressure anomalies valid 2/16, GFS interpretation.

Snow Forecast

2/8-2/13: I added Red Mountain, BC to the map.

Inches of total snow 2/8-2/13.

2/14-2/17:

Inches of total snow 2/14-2/17.

Northeast, 2/8-2/17:

Inches of total snow 2/8-2/17.

For more analysis please watch my forecast video:

When will the Western High break down?

Tomer’s Take

  • Large Western high pressure blocks all major storm systems from CA, NV, WY, CO, NM through 2/14. Only minor cold fronts race down the eastern periphery through MT, WY, CO, NM.
  • Zero snowfall in CA, NV, UT through 2/14.
  • Pattern could turn more active after 2/14, but genuine pattern change might hold off until 2/18 or later.

I did some backcountry skiing on Saturday. It was windy, cold, and dry. Colorado’s snowpack has flatlined in the last 30 days with only minor amounts of new snow. SWE percentages have declined about 20%.

Backcountry skiing 2/5/2022.

The Setup

Infrared satellite shows the storm track and large Western high pressure dome. Only minor, fast-moving cold fronts will pierce the eastern periphery of the high pressure dome.

Infrared satellite 2/7/2022 5am.

Western High Pressure: What’s Next?

The pattern turns more active after 2/14 but genuine pattern change might hold off until 2/18 or later. The forecast below suggests a significant drop in pressures across the West on 2/18. If this occurs then the jet stream would support a colder, snowier pattern.

Forecast pressure anomalies valid 2/7/2022, GFS interpretation.

The Pacific North American Pattern (PNA) agrees. The Euro flips the pattern negative after the 14th. The signal is even stronger after the 18th.

A negative PNA tends to correlate with a more active pattern across the West.

Pacific North American Pattern, 2/7/2022, Euro interpretation.

Snow Forecast

2/7-2/16:

Inches of total snow 2/7-2/16.

Northeast, 2/7-2/16:

Inches of total snow 2/7-2/16.

Snow forecast next 8 days

Tomer’s Take

  • Snow continues in the Northeast today with storm skiing. Then it’s a series of Alberta Clippers through 2/13.
  • A fast-moving, minor cold front brushes ID, MT, and WY with light snow between tonight and Sunday.
  • Large high pressure rebuilds across most of the West through 2/13.
  • Possible pattern change after 2/14.

Infrared satellite shows the storm track and large high pressure rebuilding across the West.

Infrared satellite 2/4/2022 5am.

Western High Pressure

Strong high pressure rebuilds across most of the West through 2/13. When will that change? Some data suggest after 2/14. This is one possible scenario with lower pressures returning on 2/15.

Forecast pressure anomalies valid 2/15/2022, GFS interpretation.

Snow Forecast

2/4-2/13:

Inches of total snow 2/4-2/13.

Northeast, 2/4-2/13:

Inches of total snow 2/4-2/13.

For more analysis please watch my forecast video: