Mother nature is in the process of engineering one of the great skiing comebacks of the last quarter century. At the risk of sounding like I am part of the marketing chorus, I can honestly say that this past Friday was one of the best days I have ever had on Mad River's "single" side. Although some of the snow certainly was wind driven into the trail, I was literally quad deep in powder on Catamount at a little after 9 AM. As much fun as I had on the slopes Friday, what a downer not to be in the mad river valley over the next week because it will spectacular. There were strong indications of a major event going back to early last week for the east coast but for a while, it looked as though any storm would simply add to a lengthy decadal chapter of big snow for coastal areas and a miss for areas deep in interior New England. As the college football analyst Lee Corso likes to say "Not so fast my friend !!!!". We are not going to miss this storm which will bring blizzard like conditions and a huge accumulation of snow to the entire state of Vermont.
A shift in the thinking
The shift in thinking with this storm stems to Sunday where model consensus dramatically moved the track of the storm northward and westward. Again, the American Model lagged behind the trend setting European model. Also recall the mention in the last post of the extended Canadian model which also tracked the storm farther north and west last week and was predicting a big hit for us. The Canadian Model is probably the least credible of the three major medium range models but that doesn't automatically make it wrong.
Wow !!! What a storm
It will be lengthy and time consuming to get bogged down in details regarding the manifestation of this storm and the forecast for MRG and much of Vermont is actually not that complicated: snow and lots of it ! A little perspective always makes for good reading however and it is worth mentioning that meteorologically speaking, this will be one of the strongest storms to impact the region in perhaps a decade. The term "bombing" is used to describe the rapid deepening (or strengthening) a nor'easter under goes as it achieves maturity usually somewhere along the New England coast. Well, they certainly called in the air force for this one because by the time this surface low reaches the Maine coast late Wednesday many of the off-shore buoys will be reporting sea level pressures of near or less than 980 mb. To put this in perspective, both Hurricane Bob and Hurricane Gloria crossed eastern Massachusetts with SLP's of about 965 mb and both did significant damage to coastal New England. Katrina made landfall east of New Orleans with an SLP of 920 certainly proving how devastating an extra 40 - 50 mb of strength can be.
A Forecast Please !!! - 20-40 inches in case you are sick of reading
The rate of deepening and eventual intensity of the low pressure center associated with the storm have a lot to say about snowfall amounts in Vermont. The track of the storm also dictates snowfall amounts to a large degree and for big snow across the northern Green Mountains, it is best that the storms track very close to the city of Boston which is exactly what this storm is going to do. So without further delay lets make a forecast. The snow in all its glory will probably not begin until after midnight Wednesday but could be falling at the rate of 2-3 inches per hour by the time lifts open Wednesday. Get their early if you want to truly enjoy it because we will see an big increase in winds during the afternoon which will produce blizzard-like conditions not only at the mountain but all across the state. At the summits, wind gusts will reach gale force during the afternoon and even hurricane force later Wednesday evening. The heavier snowfall will taper to snow showers early Thursday but winds will remain strong as it turns colder. Check madriverglen.com for updates on any wind hold situations. I find MRG to be particularly good about letting us know about any lift closures and I am sure the guys will come through again. As for total snowfall accumulations, I would forecast more but the storm will be moving along at a brisk pace and prevent any historic 2001-like snow. That being said Model QPF is spitting out anywhere from an 1.5 to over 2 inches of liquid which is something else I haven't seen in a while over Vermont in winter. This translates to over 2 feet of snow at the mountain but I am going to give a conservative range of 20-40 inches with a lot of drifting. It won't be the fluffy terrain induced or champlain induced powder. The synoptic snow typically has a higher density but it will be powder all the same and will make for some great skiing to be sure.
Every weekend at MRG in the last month seems to surpass its predecessor and this weekend will be in keeping with the trend. Terrain induced snow will bring a few more inches to the northern Green's by early Friday and the intermittent snow showers will continue through early Saturday on brisk winds. After successive days (Thursday and Friday) with temperatures not much better than zero on the mountain, Saturday will be less extreme and less windy as an clipper digs into the Jet Stream and passes well to our south. I'll update our terrain induced snowfall prospects later this week for the weekend but it looks as though we could get at least a little new snow for lift opening both Friday and Saturday and possible Sunday as well.
Presidents Day Holiday Week
The first half of presidents day holiday week looks golden. The second in a series of clipper systems will impact the region early next week bringing the potential for some new snow although its difficult to say exactly when at this stage of the game. Temps will be very cold Monday (President's day) and will moderate as the week progresses although temperature moderation are never linear in New England and it would be smart to plan for at least one more very cold day outside of Monday. By next week, the very ridge which initiated the outbreak of cold over the western provinces of Canada will be replaced by a trough and some very unsettled weather which will extend through much of the western United States. This will be an adverse force in our weather as we head toward the last weekend of February and into early March but next week, the week in question is safe. The good news is that both the North Atlantic Oscillation (NAO) and Arctic Oscillation (AO) are shown to remain at least slightly negative and will hopefully act as a competing and favorable force against the adverse effects of any western trough by the end of the month.
The Quick Summary
Can't ask for much more going into a holiday week. Strongest storm in years will bring heavy snow and high winds to the mountain Wednesday and Thursday. Subsequent to this are additional chances for lighter amounts of snow this weekend and early next week.