We caught up with local meteorologist and snow enthusiast, Christine Kruse, to learn about her “love of forecasting” and what to expect for the 2020 winter season:
What’s your favorite part of being a meteorologist and how long have you been doing it?
I graduated from the Pennsylvania State University with a degree in meteorology in 2001. I have been a professional meteorologist in a variety of positions for nearly 20 years. My favorite part of being a meteorologist is forecasting unique weather patterns. I enjoy learning about and forecasting outlier phenomena like downslope wind storms or blizzards.
Is this something you always wanted to do?
I am originally from Connecticut. In 1985, Hurricane Gloria crossed directly over my house. All of Connecticut prepared for this hurricane. My father taped up the front window and I watched the wind and rain as it moved through our area. We went outside as the eye crossed the area. Th at’s when I knew I wanted to be a meteorologist.
What allows Utah to have “The Greatest Snow on Earth™?” Generally speaking, it is related to geography. Utah is on the leeside of the Sierra Nevada Mountains. As storm systems cross these upstream mountain ranges, they lose a signifi cant portion of their moisture. By the time these weather disturbances reach the mountains of Utah, the cold air associated with the storms is pushed up the windward side of the mountains. Th is produces what is referred to as orographic lift. This helps to produce snow with a relatively low moisture content in abundance. With up to (or sometimes more) than 500 inches of snow in the Wasatch Mountains, Utah sees some of the highest snow totals in the Continental United States.
Other than skiing, what’s your favorite way to enjoy Utah’s winters and “The Greatest Snow on Earth™?” Outside of skiing, my kids get so excited when a winter storm is coming. This year we had one storm with 24 inches of snow and they spent the day off from school playing in the snow. I’ll admit, I still get excited when a big snow storm is coming.
What was the end of season snow accumulation for Winter 2019 at some of Utah’s most popular ski resorts? Much of Utah experienced above normal snow for the Winter of 2019. Here are a few totals from our official observers:
• ALTA ˆTHE NOAA COOPERATIVE OBSERVERˇ: 504.5″
• SILVER LAKE BRIGHTON: 366.6″
• PARK CITY: 135.6″
• BRYCE CANYON: 185.6″
What type of accumulation and temperatures can we expect in Park City for this upcoming season?
The current climate outlook for Utah for the upcoming winter months (December through February) is with odds tilting toward a higher probability of above normal temperatures. With respect to precipitation, it remains uncertain whether it will be a wetter or drier than normal winter. Why is that? Our longer term weather signals are not conclusive toward any particular precipitation pattern developing this winter. Given how active the weather pattern has remained through the summer, it will be interesting to see if that continues into the fall and winter.