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Wednesday, June 3, 2020

Winter 2019-2020 was a long time ago. But I revisited anyway


Though we will look back at the 2020 season for too many of the wrong reasons, it still had its moments. It won’t rank as one of the better winters over the past 25 years and most certainly resides in the bottom half of that sample size. With that said, it is probably closer to the middle than the bottom and at least northern Vermont could brag about some some while other locations to the south saw hardly any. 




The above graph is from the ever-popular Mt Mansfield snow stake site. I actually prefer to take a sampling of final snowfall totals from various ski areas around the northeast (sometimes outside of the northeast) but most stopped reporting as of mid-March. “The Stake” at Mt Mansfield apparently can’t be stopped and it always proves to be an invaluable resource for weather and data enthusiasts such as myself. The color coded lines can appear a bit blurry to the eyes but the pink line is 2020 and it runs behind most years this past decade with the exception of the of 2011-2012 and the Super-Nino debauchery of 2015-2016. We were able to keep pace with 2017-2018 for a while but were unable to score another miracle March and instead recorded a rather ordinary to sub-ordinary one. The 5-week "arctic spring" is also notable. More on that below.

Choosing the one single variable that defined the personality of the past winter was easy this year. Hands down it was the Arctic Oscillation (AO). Scientists have officially been tracking that index going back to 1950 and it remains one of the best gauges we have to measure how blocked the jet stream is over high latitude regions of the Northern Hemisphere. When aggregating over a 5-month period (Nov-Mar) the AO this past winter was the 2nd highest ever recorded. 1989-1990 remains the winner and 1990-1991 had a strong bronze medal showing but 2019-20 both intense and persistent, often challenging the confines of the graphical display while spending all but a few weeks in positive territory. Below is a chart measuring the top 5 +AO years and top 5 -AO years




When you consider those headwinds, 2019-2020 doesn’t look quite as bad. 1989-90 and 1990-91 were decidedly worse snow years based on data from the Mt Mansfield snow stake and 1992-1993 benefitted from of the greatest winter storms of all time. It also shows that Vermont can survive the adverse impacts of a +AO year a lot better than areas farther south. Winter across the Mid-Atlantic was nearly non-existent and ski areas suffered a much milder fate relative to Vermont. Atlanta, GA was nearly 4 degrees above normal over that same 5-month period. 4 degrees may not be a lot for one month but over the course of 5 months makes it one of the warmest winters on record. The same can be said with -AO winters. All 5 winters on the above chart were good snow years but the record year 2009-2010 actually featured a weather pattern that became too “blocked” and many of the best storms missed Vermont and deposited snow on the I95 corridor instead. Atlanta, GA by the way, recorded one of the coldest winters over this same period. 1968-69 was absolutely historic in Vermont and one of the best snow years ever recorded in many locations.

We also spent much of the winter talking about the persistent tightness of the jet stream in the mid-latitude Pacific Ocean. This zonal, fast to east moving consolidated jet stream mitigates the impacts of arctic air over mid-latitude North America and the index that best measures this is the Eastern Pacific Oscillation (EPO) index. The positive index which is defined by a version of this weather map is largely what we saw throughout the winter. Notice the cold over Alaska which was very prevalent through much of the past several months. 

Though the EPO was very positive through much of the winter, once I went through the rather tedious process of parsing through all the daily data I found that the positive value of around +33 was closer to zero than I would have thought. The two winters prior to this recorded values in the mean of close to -60 and the super evil empire winter of 2011-2012 recorded a value of close to +80. In other words, the EPO was an issue but the +AO, based on the aggregated data, was a bigger issue.
If I had to identify a single culprit to the persistence of the +AO/Somewhat +EPO pattern this winter it would be the configuration of sea surface temperatures in the Pacific. More specifically, the massive blob of sea surface temperature warmth that positioned itself south of the Gulf of Alaska. It was a large contributor to what became a negative Pacific Decadal Oscillation season. A negative PDO is not, in and of itself a pattern killer for snow and winter lovers in New England but the persistence of a jet stream level ridge underneath a glaring lack of blocking in the Arctic became the most prevalent adverse variable in almost every update I did this past season. Interestingly, this feature was identified in the  pre-season outlook as a concern but it was pitted against what was, at the time, a glaring lack of sea ice in the Chukchi Sea (regional body of water north of the Bering Strait). As it turned out, the Chukchi Sea quickly froze and we were left with the anomalous body of sea surface temperature warmth described above. Such a sea surface temperature setup is often associated with La Nina winters but not this time. The equatorial Pacific stayed on the Nino side of zero throughout the winter, and though we did see an energized southern branch of the jet stream at times, the weak El Nino did not greatly influence our winter season one way or another. 

November and early December saw the best stretch of pattern fundamentals and the season was off to a promising start. The high country surrounding the MRV did see several small but measurable rounds of accumulating snow and temperatures were 5-7 below normal for November which was colder than 2018. The biggest difference however was the lack of Snowvember. We were teased with the idea of big storms on a few occasions but nothing ever materialized. Thanksgiving was white but just not “deep” white. Still, the persistent cold was promising and it finally looked like the pattern would bear fruit in early December thanks to a bombing area of low pressure along the east coast. Though the storm did deliver several inches to the MRV, the heaviest snow fell across southern Vermont, the Berkshires, Albany, NY and the Catskill Mountains to the southwest. I feel like this storm was an inflection point. Had we bullseyed that sucker, and we were close, we may have remembered this winter very differently. 

Cold weather persisted in a general sense to about the winter solstice but there were two somewhat damaging thaws within the week of December 9th to 15th that limited our ability to establish a base. The coldest day of the season was actually December 19th when the high temperature struggled to reach 5 but we only managed to muster a few inches of snowsqualls and had limited snowcover going into the holiday. At that point, the pattern broke down and much of what was described in the above paragraphs, a very positive AO (unblocked Arctic), a somewhat positive EPO (zonal Pacific Jet) became the prevailing influence on our weather pattern. Christmas was wintry but there were several days around Christmas that were not.

The loss of Rush drummer Neil Peart cast a dark shadow on the early part of January 2020 for me personally. Looking back, I suppose it was a lead indicator of the rough year that was to come.  On the weather side of things, the 10 days that began on around December 29 and ended around January 8th was one of the better stretches of the season. Though the pattern wasn’t entirely supportive, a once upper Midwest blizzard deposited a mixture of snow and sleet on the MRV and provided a few days of instability leading up to New Years Day. No it wasn’t epic, but we got a bit of all of the necessary ingredients starting with a good base building storm a few a few inches of powder on the 30th, the 31st and on New Years Day. Temperatures crept above the freezing mark for a few days on the January 2nd, and 3rd but we were able to score some additional snowfall on the 4th and procured a nice first weekend of the new decade. A few days of snow showers and squalls during the following week gave us a temporary impression that winter was resettling in. Unfortunately, this didn’t last. A very mild weekend January 11th and 12th and some rain put a massive dent into the base and put a crimp into the rest of the month. We got a bit of cold weather and snow in the week that followed but the big storm proved to be elusive. The best chance for one came without much cold air support on the last full weekend of the month. I remember talking about walking the proverbial “tightrope” and hoping for the perfect storm track. In the end we kinda fell off the tightrope a bit but did receive a bit of decent snow across the high country while the low elevations got a bit of wet weather. 

February was a tale of the “same story, better result”. It was historically awful for snow along the I95 corridor including all of southern New England and New York City. Boston recorded only a half inch of snow for the entire month and New York City only recorded a trace. As the AO continued to soar, nearly breaching the limits of the visual chart on two occasions, temperatures continued to run above average across much of the United States including Vermont which saw readings 3-5 above average. We did get the snow however, mainly from two different but substantial events. The first on February 6-7 was the best of the season. It was a windy event which proved to be a challenge for some resorts to manage but we got the powder, almost 2 feet of it and we got a few days of cold weather on the ensuing weekend which included a calm Sunday February 9th. The other big event occurred toward the end of the month. It was a wetter snow event at the low elevations but an overperformer nonetheless with around a foot of snow. We had hoped to score the additional instability snow leading into the weekend but winds remained westerly as opposed to northwesterly favoring the snow over locations such as Stowe and points north. The two storms in February might have made the month a more memorable one but there was a lot of mild weather in the middle of the month. We did manage to avoid much of the rain but not all of it. 

March brought in the Covid19 pandemic so I suppose it was good year to not have our traditional mid-month snow bonanza. The first 15 days made up the last 15 days of the season for most resorts and it featured big temperature surges and occasional rainfall. It didn’t look especially good for a wintry finish to the season but it goes to show that you just never know. I am saying this completely in jest but it is almost as if the pattern waited or Governor Phil Scott to issue his stay at home order and suddenly everything fell into line. The positive AO became completely neutralized and a “well blocked” jet stream emerged. It showed up in the NAO data the best but we also saw blocking over the Yukon which fueled an amazing and persistent stretch of winter-like weather over Vermont in the middle of spring. 

Much of Vermont did see a nice overperforming wet snow of nearly a foot in some places on March 23rd, but the true “arctic spring” didn’t commence until around April 9th. It was 5 weeks of remarkable spring cold and some substantial snow. So much snow in fact that Mt Mansfield had a 2nd peak of snow pack in early May. More on that later. The 5 weeks beginning on April 9th and ending around May 13th was roughly 7 degrees below average and much of the high country didn’t see any 60-degree temperatures throughout April. We did see several rounds of snow, some elevation sensitive, some not so much. Though we never did see the epic April powder producer (that would come in May), I would estimate that Mad River and Sugarbush saw at least 20 inches of snow in April. It got even more incredible in early May. Following a spring-tease May 1-3, a massive surge of May cold descended on New England. A storm on May 8th and 9th produced 5-10 inches of not wet snow but powder across much of the northern Vermont high country. I will remember May 9th for as long as I can remember the dates of all my favorite weather events. Sub-zero wind chills, temperatures in the 30’s all day, snow squalls and several inches of snow on the ground throughout the day. It was truly surreal! Then, in a total about face, a heat wave hit Vermont in a span of less than 3 weeks. Most official reporting sites in Vermont hit 90 degrees oddly beating locations such as Philadelphia and Washington, DC that have yet to see 90 degrees this spring (a rarity)




In many ways 2020 has not been a year we would ever hope for. It certainly was not a memorable winter season from a weather standpoint either but will obviously be remembered for worse reasons years from now. The 5-weeks of winter that the Vermont high country saw in spring has brought some optimism and provided a reminder of what CAN BE. I can hope, like the rest of us, that we can come to a resolution as to an appropriate way to face the challenges on the ground and have a ski season we can all enjoy. Look forward to being back next winter to serve the MRV like always. Until then, stay engaged and continue to work the make our community a special one and the world a better place both now and in the future.

Wednesday, April 8, 2020

April rollercoaster begins with elevation snowstorm that came close becoming historic for the season

The last regular update of the winter season includes a classic roller coaster ride of April weather in Vermont. A bit of everything as they say with big swings in temperature and a variety of precipitation types which at times could be falling pretty hard atop both the Vermont high country and the low lying valleys.

I haven't updated in several days but our late week storm that was teased as a potential snow producer is poised to deliver some of those goods. The storm has the capability of becoming that elusive April 2-footer but will fall short of that status but not by much. The chess pieces are well positioned with a nice block in the jet stream over the Northwest Passages (small body of water NE of Hudson Bay) and a closed low  in the jet stream over the Canadian Maritimes often referred to as the 50-50 low. A very strong jet stream impulse will attempt to plunge into this set up and is poised to become a big New England precipitation and snow producer. The maturation of this storm is close to perfection for northern New England as a whole but will belly flop just enough so that the heaviest snow is confined to areas north and east of Vermont (northern Maine mostly). Still, Vermont, especially the high country of Vermont will get several inches of snow.

Precipitation will be mostly rain as it commences Thursday morning but areas above 2500 feet could see a period of heavy wet snow with any intense areas of precipitation. The chances for this should actually increase as the day progresses and the threshold elevation for snow will also drop as we move into the afternoon and evening. The axis of low pressure will pass directly over the state of Vermont and continue to strengthen while pushing east. Much of the state will attain access to the colder conveyor of moisture Thursday evening into early Friday and this means snow pretty much everywhere, even in the low lying valleys. Accumulations by midday Friday could be as much as 10 inches above 2500 feet but will likely be confined to a few gloppy inches or less below 1500 feet (which is where most of us live).  Snow consistency will also be very sensitive to elevation with the possibility of a few powdery inches across the high country as temperatures drop into the 20's early Friday. In low lying areas temperatures are likely to hover near or above the freezing mark Thursday night and much of Friday. This storm reminds me a bit of our late February storm, an event where we overperformed and saw over 15 inches. We are dealing with late season challenges that will make that event difficult to replicate but it would have been a nice way to close out the season hypothetically speaking.

Conditions will be blustery through Friday into Saturday even as the snow tapers off. Temperatures are likely to top out only in the low 40's Saturday but Sunday should be a little tamer with calmer winds and readings up near 50. With a little help from some sunshine Sunday, we could actually do several degrees better than 50 but I am not so sure about such help right now.

It will get interesting early next week and worth watching but not because of snow. The big ridge over Alaska is working its magic and will result in an onslaught of cold and wintry weather across the front range late this weekend. The storm responsible is a big one and will gather a lot of Gulf of Mexico moisture as it travels north and east. A LOT of moisture capitalized. Both heavy rain and wind are possible on Monday across the northeast along with relatively mild though not excessively mild temperatures. In recent years we've had some big spring storms result in power outages and some minor flooding across the state and this appears to be a candidate for both though some changes are still possible. When the rain ends late Monday we could also see a one day surge of in temperatures into the 60's Tuesday. After that, some relative chill returns although the bulk of this will impact the central United States and this airmass will modify somewhat before reaching New England.

The pattern though through April 20th continues to look cold and capable of producing more winter weather. That said, regular blogging activities will come to an end with the next post consisting of a seasonal summary. If some interesting weather comes around, I'll certainly talk about it on twitter some, especially since I can't complain about Mets baseball right now.


Wednesday, April 1, 2020

Winter could be stirred up from the ashes in a potentially interesting setup late next week

Sunshine late on Tuesday and early on Wednesday was a nice needed break from the succession of cloudy days in northern Vermont. The clouds came back as of late Wednesday and unfortunately they will be with us through at least early Friday. In the short term, I wouldn't describe our upcoming weather as especially exciting or anything I would necessarily wish for but it is unique. There is a terrific weather enthusiast in southern Vermont (@vermonsterWx) who posted a atmospheric sounding, a method of looking at the vertical column of air at a specific location. That sounding illustrated a unique situation where in spite of a northwest wind at the surface, much of the air above us is getting warmer over time. This is happening thanks to a wound up storm system (the one that missed us) that is spinning ferociously offshore while occluding and pumping in some relative warmth from its northern flank. The warm air isn't the only thing being shoved in our direction from this storm, there's moisture that is also expected to impact much of northern New England and will do so via the back door. Most of Thursday will be cloudy and the radar will show rain and snow approaching Vermont from the northeast, the opposite of what we typically see when it comes to approaching weather in New England. This precipitation could fall as some snow for a period during the late afternoon but this will change to rain by nightfall as that aforementioned column of air continues to get warmer. The rain will be sporadic in nature but should continue in that fashion through early Friday.

I am sincerely hoping that we can optimize the stretch of weather between late Friday and Monday. It is all a question on the extent of cloudiness. We are expecting a weak area of high pressure to build over the state beginning late on Friday and an innocuous cold front on Sunday isn't likely to bring any significant rainfall to the state. It would certainly nice if that weak area of high pressure was strong enough to remove most of the clouds. If that were to happen we could see temperatures reach the high 50's Saturday and near 60 on Sunday. I'll hedge a little for now and just suggest some partial sunshine and low to mid 50's for the weekend with little wind.

The early part of next week looks like a continuation of the weather from the weekend. Some limited sunshine, a tolerable amount of wind and temperatures mostly in the 50's during the day. And then it gets interesting. I mean where was this pattern back in January !! The pattern that supported a bottling up of cold across Alaska has vanished and there's some evidence of a blocking ridge (depending on what set of ensembles you are inclined to believe), the EPO looks decidedly negative (relaxed Pacific pattern) and the AO appears neutralized. There are a few different scenarios that could play out given these circumstances but one way or another, a large section of the contiguous U.S. is likely to see a southward push of early spring cold weather. It will assuredly be temporary but it will not lack for excitement. The European operational and ensemble members (and to some degree the GFS ensemble member) showed northern New England taking the brunt of this with a phased storm system impacting us in the middle to later part of next week. It would be a rain to heavy snow scenario that would not be insignificant. Other simulations also indicate the ridging over Alaska but confine most of the excitement to areas out west. From a weather perspective this will be an interesting one to watch. At the very least, we are likely to see a volatile stretch of spring weather starting in the middle of next week that will likely include cold, possibly some snow, a few mild days followed perhaps by more cold.

It's probably worth one or two more blog posts at least.


Friday, March 27, 2020

Very typical early spring weather for the next week in northern VT but early April looks stormy

The snow this past Monday night was magnificent. One of those unique cases where northern Vermont performed exceptionally well in spite of a storm track well south of Long Island. The dry airmass was displaced rather easily allowing moisture to stream in off the Atlantic Ocean rather efficiently. Areas to our south that should have performed better under-performed or changed to rain while some areas across the northern half of Vermont received over a foot.


And with the midweek storm passing well to our south, sunshine made a multi-day appearance and allowed temperatures to climb well into the 40's Wednesday and close to 50 on Thursday and  Friday. The milder weather felt nice Thursday but it pales in comparison to what occurred in Oklahoma with temperatures reaching 90 and even 100 degrees in a few places. It has been a very warm winter across much of the south and an even warmer, at times summer-like month of March.


Just as we begin to see April on the immediate horizon, the pattern looks stormy and also capable of producing more snow. More on that in a bit. In the meantime, our weekend got split in half. The first half Saturday is sensational. Following a chilly near 20-degree start, a full day of sunshine should boost readings toward or above 50 and with very little wind. Sunday is a disaster with rain arriving by mid-morning and continuing well into the evening. The rain will hold temperatures near 40 but it won't be cold enough either at the surface or aloft to support snow during the day. At best, we could experience a bit of freezing rain in spots similar to what we saw back on March 13th. Temperatures aloft are expected to cool Sunday night and allow for some snow across much of the northern Vermont high country. This once powerful weather system over the upper Midwest will become occluded well before impacting Vermont, but with all occlusions, even the rainy ones, there's always a cool pool and that could provide a gloppy inch of snow to valley areas and a few inches above 2000 feet by Monday morning.

The aforementioned storm system will only slowly move away in the early part of the upcoming week. This will allow clouds to linger and likely keep temperatures from moving past the 50-degree mark. Current data suggests that this will improve as we get to Wednesday with a couple of mild days possible on April 1st and 2nd. This notion is predicated on another mid-week storm dodging interior New England much like this past Wednesday. A few days ago there were hints of a fairly big Vermont impact from this but not so much as of Friday March 27th. Worth watching this storm however for another possible change.

I'll never forget how insulted snow-lovers in Albany were in the winter of 2015-16. They got shut out of everything all winter and recorded most of their snow during the first week of April if I am not mistaken. Given their nearly 60 inch snow climatology, that was a snow hole for the ages. Northern Vermont actually put up a rather good fight this winter from a snowfall perspective but have been repeatedly plagued by an adverse set of teleconnection indices (AO/EPO) all winter. Much like that 2016 spring, our early April is looking rather stormy and quite volatile on the temperature scale. The AO appears to be as neutral as ever and the jet stream in the Pacific looks as relaxed as it's been all winter. I still think much of the most intense cold will remain bottled up near the Arctic given the lack of a strong high latitude blocking mechanism but the pattern does support the notion of some big east coast storms and at least a day or two of much below normal temperatures (In early April that's 30-35 for max temps).

In the 15 or so years doing the blog, the big 2-foot April snowstorm has somehow eluded us which I find somewhat remarkable in the context of that time span. No, I haven't published any research papers on it but I would imagine the return period for such an occurrence is more than once over a 10 year period (at least for the high country). Should we get something like that, would we consider it a slap in the face at this point ?

Saturday, March 21, 2020

Bluebird Sunday will be followed by several days of clouds and some wet snow

Oh my goodness, we've got some winter weather coming our way. It appears to be the early spring version of winter with some wet snow and marginal temperatures but I am sincerely hoping for some good wintry scenery. One thing is for certain, enjoy the Sunday sunshine because the 7 days that follow look very cloudy. That Sunday sunshine will be accompanied by maximum temperatures that struggle to make it above the freezing mark, but light winds will help make it a relatively comfortable day.

Clouds advance into the region early Monday and some snow will be falling by mid-afternoon. The storm responsible is a weak area of low pressure that will use the gradient from the exiting arctic high pressure center to strengthen and expand the area of precipitation.  The storm is expected to remain south of Long Island which means the heaviest precipitation is likely to stay south of northern Vermont. That said, models have suggested that this storm will have an inverted-like surface structure which should allow the precipitation shield to extend farther north than it might otherwise. How extensive this area of snowfall is remains up for debate but 2-5 inches of wet snow Monday evening is my best guess. Like many storms in late March, we should see some elevation sensitivity that will impact both amounts and snow consistency.

The Monday snowfall, whatever we get, will be followed rather quickly by a more formidable storm Wednesday. It was this feature that stood out to me when looking at the weather maps last week and it continues to do so as of Saturday (3/21). That said, the MRV will be working with a real limited supply of cold air while also dealing with the fact that this storm, like its predecessor, will be tracking south of Long Island. It's not a shut out track but the conundrum speaks for itself. If the storm shifts northward it would threaten to dislodge the minimal amount of cold in place but the current track might prevent us from receiving the heaviest precipitation. This is still worth watching though. A strong enough and a good enough track should at least produce in the mountains even if valley locations get stuck with a cold rain.

It looks like a real battle thereafter as to whether milder or colder weather end up prevailing over the state of Vermont through the last weekend of March.  Another weaker weather system is likely to impact the region Friday which will keep much of the state cloudy through the end of the week. This late Thursday/early Friday weather feature appears to be a warmer one though the data remains a little inconclusive. Colder high pressure might then successfully build across the region for Saturday providing the region with some sunshine but that also will be short lived (it at all) as another storm promises to spread clouds and precipitation into the region either late that day or on Sunday.

Ensembles are painting somewhat different pictures in the period between March 30 and April 5. The European ensembles suggest what could prove to be an excellent stretch of weather with more sunshine and potentially spring-like temperatures. The American Ensembles show a stormier somewhat colder scenario. Given that the colder weather is expected to reposition over Alaska again and given how much of this winter has played out, one would have to favor the milder outlook from a betting odds standpoint.

I very much appreciate all the kind words from everyone. Hope everyone is staying safe and healthy.

Wednesday, March 18, 2020

Weather continues to happen so lets talk about it some

Our ski season came to a crashing halt this past weekend as we adjust to a new world. But at least in this new world, we still have weather and so I can blog about that a few more times before calling it a season. We can expect a bit of everything over the next few days including some very mild and some very cold weather. The large ridge positioned over the Gulf of Alaska will proceed, as expected, to migrate northwestward and will allow arctic cold to grip much of  western Canada into early April. Northern Vermont is a long way form western Canada but the pattern will open the door slightly for a bit of cold and possibly a bit of snow to go with that cold in the coming week.

There's a rather significant storm that will organize across the southern Rockies by early Thursday and a wave of low pressure way out ahead of that storm will spread some rain into southern New England early in the day. The precipitation will mostly steer clear of Vermont but a dusting of snow or mixed precipitation is likely before 10 am. It will remain cloudy and cool the rest of Thursday with temperatures hovering near 40, but a massive push of warmth is coming for Friday. The surge of mild weather, a full blown "El Torchy" that will include gusty southwest winds, 60-plus temperatures, and intervals of clouds and sun. Also included in the Friday package of weather is a bit of rain. Showers mostly, but even a thunderstorm is possible in what appears to be a early season convective set up.

The potential thunderstorms are associated with this aforementioned Rocky Mountain originating storm that will ultimately pass well to our north Friday night. A very sharp, very strong cold front will then bring temperatures well below freezing across the Vermont high country and they will stay there for much of the weekend. Saturday's cold will be accompanied by flurries and some gusty northwest winds. Winds Sunday will be calmer but readings could be down in the single numbers into the morning before rebounding to about 30 degrees.

The cold will moderate after Sunday but we might struggle see outright spring-like temps for a bit. I mean without lift service we might as well turn the EPO negative finally !!!

EPO Analysis / Forecast

But as I mentioned, it will actually be western Canada experiencing the full impact of this more wintry pattern. Vermont will be colder but will likely simply see temperatures closer to normal. A potentially strong weather system will impact parts of the east coast Wednesday. This storm does have the capability of bringing wet snow to Vermont and possibly a significant amount. I will certainly keep an eye on that system which will then be followed more relatively seasonable March weather.

If its the milder weather you're actually hoping for given our present state of circumstances we might get a bit more of that as we get to the last full weekend of March or in early April. Our little respite from the positive EPO will last about a week but is expected to resume its 2020 state of remaining mostly positive which means a fast flowing west to east Pacific jet stream. The Arctic Oscillation meanwhile just keep spewing out positive numbers. This is more or less the reverse of the 2009-10 winter which saw a persistently negative AO which set the stage for the Mid-Atlantic snowmageddon.

The world in which we lived has obviously taken a very dark turn over the past few weeks as the threat of this virus has gotten very real. Plenty of folks, with more expertise, can give you all the advice about how you should act and what you should or shouldn't do. All I can stress is that I love being part of this Mad River Glen skiing community and I have faith we will use every bit of mental toughness to get through this. The world might look different at the other end and certain things might never be the same but we will persist. Our values as a community will most definitely endure and transcend all of this. Be generous, respectful and helpful toward one another but we do that anyway so keep doing it !

Wednesday, March 11, 2020

It's a mostly rain event Friday and more very mild air is poised to invade New England between March 19-21

The non-wintry outlook remains in place through the middle of March. Temperatures are a bit closer to seasonable levels as of Wednesday, March 11 and should stay that way over the next week or so. As I suspected however, the late week weather system appears to be mostly rain. The wet weather will arrive early Friday (just before dawn) and it follows a mostly cloudy day Thursday. The rain could be mixed with a few wet snowflakes on the mountain but temperatures should hold steady in the mid to high 30's. We can expect a bit less than a half inch of rainfall overall and it should end rather abruptly late in the ski day.

We have a bit of modified arctic air that will work its way into northern New England in the wake of Friday's rain. It will be a bit blustery Saturday but temperatures will remain very March-like with readings in the 30's on the mountain during the day and falling off into the 20's Saturday evening. Sunday and Monday will be two of the more winter-like days on the mountain with temperatures staying mostly below freezing during the day and falling well into the teens during the night. Fortunately the Saturday through Monday period will feature healthy doses of sunshine and Sunday and Monday will should see relatively calm winds.


Before temperatures modify during the middle of the week, we actually could see a bit of snowfall, quite possibly even the biggest snowfall of the month (which isn't saying much in this pattern). The warm-up late in the week however appears intense and is likely to feature another multiple day stretch of 50-plus temperatures (perhaps even warmer) and some additional rainfall.

The large ridge positioned over the Gulf of Alaska which has been generally driving the early melt-off is expected to migrate toward the Bering Sea by around the time of the Spring Equinox. Though it won't put the focus of cold on New England it will result in more cold weather in North America as a whole with some of this reaching Vermont. The snow potential is likely to remain low through the weekend of March 21st and 22nd but some is certainly possible in the week that follows.