SALT LAKE CITY — Feel free to ditch the winter coat for a light jacket for the time being.
A warm front moving across Utah is expected to raise temperatures along the Wasatch Front into the 60s Thursday, Friday and Saturday, before the next storm system moves in. It’ll be the warmest days of the year for the region to date.
"We've got a high pressure (system) over the West Coast right now," KSL meteorologist Grant Weyman said, pointing out that temperatures are reaching the 80s in some parts of California. "Some of that warm air from the highs is going to spill over (to Utah) the next few days or so."
As a result, temperatures are expected to reach as high as the mid-60s in Salt Lake City and Provo on Friday and Saturday. Those in Moab may see temperatures reach 70 degrees, and it may reach the mid-70s in St. George.
But will that warm weather last?
In the short term, the system will bring temperatures closer to average. The high temperature along the Wasatch Front on Sunday is forecast to be around 53 degrees Fahrenheit, with rain expected from a system coming in from the northwest, Weyman said. Temperatures are expected to remain there for the start of the ensuing workweek. For context, that’s right on pace with average high temperatures for Salt Lake City from 1981 through 2010, according to U.S. Climate Data.
While the vernal equinox isn’t until the evening of March 19, Sunday actually marked the beginning of the meteorological spring. And the National Weather Service Climate Prediction Center’s long-range forecast for the spring indicates a warmer-than-average spring is on its way, although possibly not dryer than average.
The center lists all of Utah in a 50-60% chance for above-average temperatures this spring. It also calls for an equal chance of between a dry, neutral or wet spring even as California, Oregon, Arizona, Colorado, New Mexico and western Texas all fall under a higher probability for a dryer than average spring.
AccuWeather’s long-range spring forecast puts this combo in another way. It calls for patterns of snow in the mountains and rain in the valleys to persist in March and April, especially for the eastern and central Rockies.
Spring is an important season for Utah as it's typically the beginning of the snowmelt season. That's when snowpack runoff heads into Utah's reservoirs. As of Wednesday, most of Utah's snowpack remains close to average for early March.
Warmer temperatures could mean an early start to the spring melt, but an average spring storm season could keep the totals close to average, as well. If that's the case, Weyman said that would still be a good thing for Utah.
"We're in pretty good shape with the water year," he said. "If we could just get another storm or two and be around 100%, we can put (this winter) in the books as having another good year, even though we've kind of slacked off in the last few weeks or so."