Think Snow, Tweet Snow !!!

Friday, February 12, 2016

Tuesday storm remains a close call but we remain on the wrong side of this for now

Terrain enhancement hit MRG in a massive way over the last couple of days and the mountain is back to its somewhat more usual February self. This type of event was perhaps the one missing item from the winter last year and since we have missed about every storm this winter, it has been one of our only sources of snow so far. A polar disturbance associated with the "attack of the PV" will bring snow showers and snow squalls back to the region early on Saturday. It will windy and bitterly cold but  it will snow a bit and accumulations will range between 2-5 inches. I've discussed temperatures a few times and you've seen the forecasts which really haven't changes too much over the past few days. It will probably be close to -10 by late in the ski day Saturday and close to -20 early Sunday before rebounding to near zero. No snow is expected on President's day but we should see an increase in high clouds from the approaching Tuesday/Wednesday storm and temperatures will climb back toward the high teens.

We have another few rounds of additional data regarding the Tuesday/Wednesday storm. Some encouraging news came in the data released as of midday Friday but this remains a less than optimal situation unless we get some additional changes. This particular storm will start in rather innocuous fashion before getting "juiced up" along the gulf coast on Monday. After that the storm proceeds up the eastern seaboard, eventually turning due north or just east of due north. Snowfall for us depends on the longitudinal (east/west) position of this storm. The European and its ensembles take the storm over Albany which would be a crusher for us. We'd get some snow early Tuesday but this would go to ice and ultimately plain rain for a time. Some minimal snowfall would then fall on the back side of this system on Wednesday. One could look at this event as a "base anchoring" type of scenario but I would prefer this in December not in mid February.

The "Euro" scenario is not etched in stone yet however. The latest American model is about 100 miles further east verses the Euro and the new Canadian is about 50 miles east of that. Every single mile is critical here. The Canadian for instance is suggesting a sizable mostly snow event and though the American GFS is still indicating some ice and perhaps a small period of rain, precipitation would turn to snow and accumulate substantially by midday Wednesday. The morale of all this - move this storm farther east.

A less intense surge of arctic chill arrives by Thursday and grips Vermont through Friday. We then contend with another warm surge but much of this I think will get thwarted. In fact, there are a few suggestions of overrrunning snow either Friday or early Saturday. In the end I do think the mountain gets a day of above freezing temperatures either Saturday or Sunday but this will have a quick end. The pattern beyond that appears to be anchored by a beautiful looking ridge in the jet stream across western North America. This will mean cold weather and another good window for snow during our last week of February and perhaps into early March.

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Some decent snow over the next 3 days, a storm to watch next week and some very cold weather in between

Looks a bit like winter again and were it not for the repeated misses this winter, no one would be complaining about what is a decently snowy week. We missed the best snow with the southern stream coastal bomb but the atmosphere is destabilizing as of late Tuesday and this should continue into early Wednesday. Projected atmospheric profiles through early Thursday shows a near ideal situation for terrain enhanced snow including both of the key ingredients; low level instability and moisture. Brian up at the mid-station posted his facebook page that it would take about 8 inches to get the mountain where we need it to be. I would have considered that a stretch a few days ago but I think 6-12 inches is a completely reasonable expectation during the period beginning Tuesday night and ending Thursday morning. If things break just right, accumulations could exceed a foot. Lets just cross our fingers and keep expectations in check for now.

The polar vortex still has its sights on Vermont this weekend. It will drop over New York state Friday and move right over Vermont on Saturday. In front of the PV is a clipper system with some limited moisture  Snow from this system could arrive by late in the ski day Friday. Snow from this will be on the light side but could get briefly squally early Saturday before the full onslaught of cold weather arrives by midday. This is by far and away the coldest outbreak of weather this season and the chill will be accompanied by strong northwest winds Saturday. Temperatures will start out near zero and may end the day Saturday closer to -10. By Sunday morning, temperatures could be -20 and potentially lower in a few locations. If there was more ice on the Great Lakes and a greater expanse of snow cover across New York State, New England and Quebec, this air mass would set records but will probably fall just short because of the lack of all these things. Sunshine will help boost temperatures up above zero Sunday and the moderation will continue into Monday.

I don't want to "doom and gloom" the next week outlook but I am nervous and want to convey that here. Temperatures should stay sub freezing and we should feel the impact of an "El Nino" fueled southern stream system that will ride up the coast in the Tuesday/Wednesday time frame. This storm was visible on the ensembles 5 days ago and the impact is a virtual certainty at this point. We have very cold air in place but it will be growing stale by Tuesday as the storm pushes it's moisture toward New England. Some accumulating snow is likely but there are some indications now that this might turn into a major ice event for New England rather than snow. It's not certain this will occur but a possibility as of now. If the track of this storm can remain to the regions south, than precipitation will remain in the form of snow.

Another weaker surge of cold weather follows for Wednesday and Thursday. All of the ensembles are showing a push of warmer temperatures that begins around February 19th and ends quickly around February 21st. I am not sure what the end result of all that will be. At worst we get 1-2 above freezing days plus a rain event and at best the warm push is thwarted before reaching northern New England and it stays generally cloudy and maybe one of the days features some snow (this was actually shown on one operational model today).  The rest of the month after February 21st looks pretty good thanks to the development of another large ridge in western North America boosting the PNA way up over the zero line.

Sunday, February 7, 2016

Polar Vortex take dead aim at Vermont this holiday weekend bringing with it brutal cold after some limited snows this week

In spite of the expected disappointment regarding the outcome with our once promising  storm this week, the mountain will be in the firm grasp of winter for at least the next 10 days and I am beginning to think most of the duration of February. The term "Polar Vortex" hasn't gotten too much mention on the blog so far this year. New England has been one of the mildest places in the U.S. relative to average through the first half of this winter and now beyond. This trend will get shattered during the holiday weekend as a very impressive looking PV will take dead aim at Vermont, dropping straight into interior New England early Saturday and bringing with it by far the coldest air of the season.

Big southern streamer is keeping forecasters in Boston busy yet again. Like all the other storms this season, this one will track far enough off the coast Monday to keep Vermont out of the significant snow but close enough to keep southeast New England in play for both accumulating snow and in this case wind. Blizzard warnings have actually been issued for the Cape for all those reasons. Snow will actually expand into Vermont for a time Monday evening into early Tuesday thanks to a general area of deformation but models are confining snowfall amounts to the 2-5 inch range for most of the state including the high country. The rest of Tuesday into early Wednesday should be free of precipitation since most of the snow will be confined to areas well south of New England. The better dynamics with this big upcoming polar branch disturbance will be further south and Vermont again misses the best snow as a result. We will ultimately see some additional snow later Wednesday into early Thursday as the atmosphere finally destabilizes enough to allow for a period of terrain enhanced snows. With some luck (vocabulary that is totally foreign to Vermont this winter) we could see some decent accumulations in the high country by later Thursday (3-6 inches) but I am hesitant to get too optimistic.

We get a preliminary taste of the chill late this week with temperatures cooling to the teens Thursday and single numbers Friday. The PV attack will be marked by a weak clipper system that should bring a small accumulation of snow late Friday. Most of what it will bring is bone chilling cold weather. Saturday's temps will struggle to eclipse the zero degree mark (-18 C). Sunday's temps may reach 10 thanks to some February sunshine but only after readings of near 20 below during the morning.

The cold will continue to moderate throughout the holiday week and there are glaring indications of another potential storm sometime in the February 16th-17th time frame. This should be another El Nino product that will arrive as the pattern and jet relax. Lots of questions regarding track and timing. My optimistic nature and fair assessment of the weather map tells me that enough cold air will remain present to keep precipitation frozen but I take nothing for granted this winter.

The pattern appears a little adverse thanks to a jet tightening in the Pacific and a weakened ridge in western North America between the 19th and 21st of the month but this appears very short lived. The MJO which we discussed in the last update should encourage a weakening in the strength of the jet in the Pacific. This should help to keep New England on the wintry side during most of the rest of February and provide another window for decent snowfall.

Friday, February 5, 2016

In one year northern New England has gone from near first to worst as far as best places for winter weather

Even surprise coastal storms find a way to miss the 2016 snow hole that is Vermont. Granted I have been guilty of painting the picture with an optimistic brush sometimes but I can't deny the ugly winter scene that currently exists as of early February. Another missed storm brings snow totals to near normal for the season in places like Philadelphia and NYC while most places in Vermont aren't even at 25 percent of normal. It's colder finally and some snow is in the forecast over the next week and the outlook appears a bit better during the holiday week. All that said, I share the collective impatience and frustration that skiers and riders have felt this year. It has been a horrendous year so far and a once very promising looking storm early next week appears to be falling apart in a disorganized, disheveled mess.

Even a once somewhat promising looking clipper will seemingly bounce off the proverbial Vermont snow shield. We could see a little snow Saturday night but accumulations will be on the order of an inch or two if that.  The Tuesday/Wednesday system looks like this. There is a formidable southern branch system that will move off the Atlantic Coast Sunday while a dynamic polar branch storm begins moving toward the Great Lakes. These two systems are simply one day out of step with one another. The moist southern streamer will move too far offshore to have a significant impact on the northeast. What the storm will do is to carve out a nice jet trough which will help to suck the dynamic polar energy into its wake. Much of the moisture will thus be kept out of New England even from this potent clipper that seemed to have every inclination of bombing. Most of the moisture might miss but not all. A period of snowfall Monday night is possible as a nice deformation area becomes established over New England in between the two systems. Though much of Tuesday and Tuesday night could turn out to be frustratingly snow-free, instability should put the terrain enhanced snow machine into action for a time with accumulating snow beginning Wednesday and persisting through Thursday. This weather system is simply not going to be the messiah of winter storms that we so desperately need. Over the 4 days between Monday and Thursday, the mountain should see 5-10 inches but I was certainly hopeful for considerably more.

There does appear to be some sort of weather system, perhaps a clipper/pacific hybrid type system that will mark the advance of another surge of very cold weather. This airmass appears to be one of the strongest of the season so far as intensity of the chill is concerned. It's somewhat difficult as of now to determine how much snow might fall before this cold arrives over the holiday weekend but there is some potential for a few more needed inches late Friday or early Saturday.

Some of the ensemble runs a few days were painting a very dreary picture later in February by re-tightening the jet stream in the Pacific. Just in the last 24 hours however the long range ensemble data have dramatically backed off some of those milder scenarios for eastern North America. This change has a lot to do with the evolving MJO projections which are now forecast to be substantially more favorable in two weeks verses the projections earlier this week. Since we maintain the support of the arctic oscillation I am substantially more confident that we remain cold through the holiday week. Normally I would anticipate plenty of snow to go along with this pattern except for this hideous snow shield which has spat on us all season. It is very much time for that to stop.

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Snow next week, question is how much ?

It's an ugly scene right now across much of Vermont. Not a lot of snow on the ground, above freezing temperatures with rain falling is a nightmare gone bad as far as I am concerned. Winter returns to Vermont by late Thursday but new snow won't arrive until very late on Saturday, probably after the ski day is done. This is not much of a weather system Saturday but the limited amounts of moisture will be enough to produce a few inches by Sunday morning. Any new snow is great but our focus by Sunday will shift to a potentially bigger system.

We have considerably more clarity today regarding what should be an interesting week of weather. Another notable southern streamer will begin making a turn up the Atlantic Coast on Sunday while a vigorous clipper system advances southeast out of the western provinces of Canada. These two storms are about a day out of phase unfortunately and are not expected to combine forces at any time. The clipper system is capable of enough of providing its own fireworks. It should make use of the relative warmth in the Atlantic Ocean and deepen, becoming a fully mature nor'easter by Tuesday. Snow should impact a large portion of the northeast by Tuesday and continue to impact all of New England in some fashion on Wednesday. A healthy pool of instability should allow terrain enhanced snow to continue through much of Wednesday. Accumulations from this system are yet to be determined. The strength and ultimate track of this storm remain a question but given the position of the jet ridge in western North America, Vermont is in a good position to be a snowy beneficiary of whatever evolves out of the Tuesday/Wednesday storm.

Though this appears to be a colder period across much of eastern North America, temperatures will remain close to seasonable levels in Vermont (classic El Nino) in the 7 days beginning this Saturday and persisting through the President's Day holiday. In the wake of the midweek storm, another potentially potent clipper system could add to the new snowfall on Friday and bring with it a blast of below normal temperatures for the early part of the holiday weekend. This cold is then expected to recede by President's Day itself and temperatures again may turn above normal after February 15th.

The jet stream is again expected to tighten in the Pacific pushing the EPO back into positive, adverse territory. This is not an encouraging development for the back half of February but yet again we will keep the AO as an ally and this might help to thwart the adverse impacts of a more energetic jet in the Pacific.

Monday, February 1, 2016

Ice and Rain Wednesday but is potential snow just a week away ?

No good news regarding our potentially wet and rainy Wednesday. Models have actually moved the track of this storm farther north the last few days and the result will be a shorter period of ice and a longer period of rain. The freezing rain should begin around daybreak and change to plain rain within a few hours. Temperatures will inch close to the 40 degree mark later in the day. It's about half an inch of liquid precipitation in total and most of it should be over by the evening. By late Thursday morning most of the mountain should be back below freezing and down into the teens by Friday morning.

A much more productive weather pattern takes over as advertised on Friday. Models have been hinting at varying degrees cold and storminess in the 10 day stretch beginning on Friday but I expect it to be one of the better weeks for snow this season. The first new snow comes Saturday from a weaker clipper system. There were a few indications that this storm might ultimately become more than a weak clipper off the Atlantic coast but those indications have gone away as of Monday morning.

What has been relatively consistent is the indications of a much more organized precipitation producer in the Tuesday the 9th/Wednesday the 10th time frame. Lot of polar jet energy will diving south out of Canada fueling the potential rise of a big east coast system. There are phasing questions relating to this system but it would be hard to doubt the presence of southern branch jet energy and moisture. Potential phasing is a question of timing and the relative positions of both colliding branches of the jet. I put the chances of something rather significant happening pretty high (65 %) given the proximity of the two disturbances in question. It's just a matter of "when" and what the evolving storm will do as a result of the "when" question.

Terrain enhanced powder from any such midweek storm would continue into Thursday as a blast of cold air envelops New England. The cold should continue to dominate through the President's Day holiday and there are indications that yet another storm could bring its potential snowfall to the mountain in that time frame. The cold may recede somewhat during the week following President's Day as PNA support for colder weather vanishes. The AO should remain at least weekly negative thwarting any potential big thaw.

Friday, January 29, 2016

Winter 2016, there is hope for you yet !

Good news on most fronts today as we head toward the last few days of January. Not sure if we can escape all of the adversity in this upcoming week but perhaps it can be minimized. There was a tweet  out there referencing the Mt Mansfield snow stake which graphically showed that the snow depth this year was about the worst ever recorded (in just over 60 years of data). It's actually a close race with a few years in the mid 50's and 1979-80. A mild February with minimal snow could certainly cement the winter as one of the worst ever for snow depth but it doesn't look like that will be the case. Over the past two days ensembles have been painting an ever more promising picture starting around February 4th and likely continuing for at least two weeks.

We enjoyed a bit of snow on Friday and advection induced precipitation late Saturday into Saturday night could bring upwards of an inch. Trouble starts after that with a somewhat innocuous above-freezing Sunday. Monday is even warmer as readings could surge to 40 along with some rain showers. I had offered a glimmer of hope regarding the potential rainy disaster this upcoming Wednesday and that hope remains. Monday's system will indeed usher in a layer of cold, dry air for Tuesday which we will so desperately need as a giant system  winds itself up and heads for the Great Lakes. Current indications suggest that this will ultimately travel through the land gully in between Lake's Huron and Erie. It will then proceed northeastward either right over the St Lawrence Valley.

This is hardly ideal but I've seen worse. The layer of cold, dry air should allow for a period of icing at the very least and the period of plain old liquid rain appears reduced to a handful of hours. If the storm can just move 50-100 miles further south, not a lot of ask, we would turn this ice/rain event to more of a snow/ice base building event. Not a likely scenario as of yet but not eliminated from the possibility spectrum either.

Then February 4th comes and suddenly mother nature waves her magic wand and everything is just swell. A beautiful looking west coast ridge starts to take shape and extends vertically up the west coast and eventually adjoins with a weak area of blocking in the Arctic. Even the EPO forecasts have trended more negatively in the past two days and are now indicating a slightly loose Pacific Jet in about a week's time. What does it all mean ? Cold weather and lots of it. In addition, with the axis of the ridge setting up from the American west coast northward to the Yukon/Alaskan border, the east coast becomes a tinder box of activity for storms. El Nino should provide the fuel for it as well. There have been hints of storms embedded within this pattern all over the place and one way or another the mountain should benefit. The cold will settle into the region February 4th and the first snow is likely to come from a clipper system February 6th (A Saturday). I won't speculate on when the snow comes after that but I would be shocked if significant amounts of the good stuff doesn't fall between the 6th and 20th of the month. More on this in the coming days.