SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4) — Happy Wednesday, Utah! We are coming off of record-breaking warmth in Salt Lake City with a high of 83° yesterday, and our first 90° day in St. George. While temperatures will be well above average once again today, temperatures will ease down slightly thanks to extra clouds and a weak cold front moving in.
Daytime highs across the state will mainly range in the 60s and 70s outside of the mountains, but in Salt Lake, we’ll come close to hitting the mid-70s while St. George aims for the mid-80s. With the high pressure out of the way, the storm currently in the Pacific Northwest will move our way. Through today we’ll see increasing clouds across the state as the winds will be whipping!
As we go into tonight, the storm along with the cold front will bring a good chance for wet weather from late tonight into tomorrow. The wet weather with this system brings is a chance for valley rain and mountain snow with the best chance being in the northern two-thirds of the state and eastern Utah.
Precipitation timing and temperature will dictate precipitation type and while this again looks like a valley rain and mountain snow set up, as the colder air moves in, some areas will see straight sloppy, spring snow, especially in the typically colder valleys like Cache. Ground temperatures are warmer, so valley accumulation is not likely with this round of wet weather, but anything we do see won’t stick around long.
The northern mountains could pick up 2-8″ while mountain valleys could see a trace to 3″. Most valleys will see either rain with some minor accumulations being possible, but benches and those typically colder valleys could see a couple of inches. The best chance for showers in northern Utah, including the Wasatch Front, will be during the first half of the day tomorrow. By the afternoon and evening, the bulk of the wet weather will push into eastern Utah. Dry skies are expected to prevail in St. George, but we could see a few showers sneaking as far south as Cedar City.
The big story with this system likely won’t be the wet weather, but rather the drop in temperatures. Highs in northern Utah will run roughly 15-20 degrees colder than today while southern Utah sees a drop of roughly 10-15 degrees. Highs in northern Utah will mainly range in the 30s and 40s while southern Utah will drop mainly into the 50s. Even St. George will drop from the mid-80s to around 70 tomorrow.
Some trailing energy behind this main system leaves a slight chance for a few lingering showers Friday in northern Utah, but high pressure will be quick to rebuild and that will allow temperatures to rebound through the weekend with sunshine. Saturday looks seasonal, then we’ll be back above average by Sunday.
We will be adding additional snow to the already unstable snowpack, but the colder air may help ease melting a bit. Warmth and sun angle have played into these conditions and the latest Avalanche Warning was extended through 6 AM Thursday. The newest warning includes the Wasatch Range, Bear River Range, Wellsville Range, Oquirrh Mountains, Stansbury Range, and Uintas. This means that just about all northern mountains are included in this warning, but this warning also includes the foothills of northern Utah, particularly in Cache and Ogden valleys. Be sure to avoid and stay off slopes greater than 30 degrees and avoid avalanche runout areas.
These warming temperatures have also accelerated lower-elevation snow melt and runoff through the state. Right now, the only flood watch in our area is in NE Nevada which is in effect through Wednesday night, and Pocatello, Idaho has a hydrologic outlook warning of snow melt in the area.
In Utah, there are no watches or warnings, but there is now a flood advisory for Emigration Creek in the eastern half of Salt Lake City and areas downstream until midday tomorrow. Even though that’s our only current advisory, as we have seen in isolated pockets along the Wasatch Front already, the enhanced runoff could lead to flooding.
Also, rivers and streams will be running high, swift, and cold. Be sure to keep any kids or pets away from these areas. Enhanced runoff is expected primarily in lower elevations with the possibility for mid-elevations as well. Slot canyons, especially in southern Utah, may be inundated with runoff so be sure to avoid any backcountry hazards. To prepare yourself it is advised to clear deep snow from foundations and clear drainage paths.
The bottom line? Whipping winds and warm temperatures today before much cooler temperatures and wet weather potential on our Thursday!