As you look at the five or seven day weather forecast, you might be fretting as there are a lot zeros under the snowfall column. Don’t worry, though, as this is just a temporary lull. While some weather patterns can be locked in for many weeks (like the last three weeks of December that were quite snowy), this current period of dry weather will only stick around for about a week.
Before looking for the next storm, though, let’s take stock of how we closed out 2012. The beginning of December saw a snowpack at about 90 percent of average for Utah, 95 to 100 percent of average for Wyoming, 100 to 125 percent for much of central Idaho, and about 80 to 95 percent for most of Montana. Colorado, Arizona and New Mexico on the other hand were hurting for snow with only about 40 percent of average snow on the ground.
Things can change quickly, and for good snow, all we need is a few weeks of consistent flakes and cold air to really improve conditions. By the end of December, Utah’s snow pack was around 120 percent of average, Wyoming was posting numbers of about 110 percent, central Idaho clocked in at 130-plus percent and Montana was up to 95 to 110 percent. Most importantly, the slow starts in Arizona, New Mexico and Colorado were somewhat erased with three weeks of good snow to close out December. Colorado and New Mexico now stand at about 75 to 80 percent of average and Arizona is above 100 percent. Sure, we’d like all areas to see above average snowpack, but improving by 40 percent in just three weeks is a great trend.
Looking ahead, a storm on Thursday will drop south out of British Columbia and initiate a new storm track for the Rockies. The snowfall on January 9 and 10 should be the start of a colder and more consistently snowy weather pattern lasting through at least the middle of the month. Thankfully the zeros that you see in the forecast won’t be there this time next week.
Joel Gratz is a Meteorologist and the creator of OpenSnow.com.