Think Snow, Tweet Snow !!!

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Rain, but not until after the weekend; Big time April cold may freeze Easter Eggs

Those in the know say that the tree sap runs best on dry days when temperatures start at sub-freezing levels but then warm to well above freezing. This is essentially what mother nature has planned for the weekend. Clear skies Friday night and a slackening wind will allow temperatures to fall to as low as 15 in parts of the Mad River Valley. At lift opening Saturday, readings are likely to remain in the 20's until much of the mountain sees the above freezing temperatures by noon under plenty of sunshine. The afternoon Saturday should be delightful with soft snow on much of the mountain and temperatures between 35 (summit) and 45 base. Sunday, April Fools, will be a repeat of sorts only that temperatures during the day will respond quicker to the early morning sun before that sun fades behind increasing high clouds in the afternoon. I am optimistic that Sunday stays dry and that the snow will again be nice and corned up during the afternoon.

The Big Challenge
The folks at MRG certainly would like to keep the operation going through Easter and the big challenge here will be to survive some serious adversity between Monday April 2nd and Wednesday April 4th. To put it bluntly, this is a lousy stretch of weather where temperatures and dewpoints will remain above freezing during two seperate periods of rain. No doubt it will do some damage to the remaining base. The first period of rain arrives Sunday night. I would expect about a third of an inch with this first batch and then most of Monday is drizzly or just cloudy and damp. After a dry and mild day Tuesday, another potentially more signifcant period of rain arrives Tuesday night into Wednesday. Both major medium range computer models show this to be a rather dicey predicament for us, one which we will hope to at least partially weasel our way out of between now and then. I know you warm weather lovers may be ready to sign off on winter but the pattern looks to take us on another twist into Easter and I would rather not have this twist preceded by a wash-out.

The Easter Freeze ?
By Thursday of next week, the weather will again undergo a dramatic shift. One, which according to all indications, will send us right back into the grips of old man winter (A nice gentlemen who I have tried to befriend over the years in hopes of earning favors). The turn to colder weather, especially in the midst of the more unstable month of April, has a very good chance of bringing significant terrain induced or even synoptic (weather system induced) snow. Thus is the reason for my dismay over the rain early next week since it would be nice if the current base would remain in tact for the cold weather since I expect this cold to remain with us through the holiday weekend.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Weekend appears mainly dry and sub-freezing only in the early mornings

The warm weather is arriving on schedule but it is not in the format I would have specified. If it decides to warm I was hoping for 50's and at least a couple dry days before any rain. Instead, following some freezing rain/rain and a few hours of sun and mild weather on Thursday, more rain will move in courtesy of fast moving front Thursday night. We will get some wind ahead of the front accompanying both the mild weather/rain and this combined with the high dewpoints will do some damage to the base by the time it dries out Friday. Fortunately, the game shoudn't be over regarding the weekend, a period of time which is expected to be mostly dry. Saturday will feature morning temps below freezing but the snow should quickly respond to above freezing temps before noon. Sunday appears a bit more overcast but again, mostly above freezing and with only a very slight chance for some light rain.

This is one of the last updates of the year since it is entirely no fun to forecast when it will rain and when it will not. First of all, the next 10 days will all feature temperatures which are mostly above freezing during the day since the pattern fundamentals appear very warm. Monday appears dry followed by a chance for showers on Tuesday. Wednesday appears dry and somewhat seasonable but then very mild weather is indicated to precede a potentially more significant period of rain toward the end of the week/month. I would expect at least one extremely mild day ahead of the rain late next week either next Thursday or Friday.

A positive AO combined with an energetic pattern in the northeast Pacific Ocean is driving the pattern over the next 10 days. By the first of April the overall picture appears changed and the sustained above normal temperatures may come to an end. April is a month often full very convaluted jet stream forces which form circumstantially but often are difficult to displace once in place. It is often referred to by weather enthusiasts as "cut-off" season where large and anomalously cool/warm pockets of air at jet stream level are removed from the main jet stream current and provide extended periods of rain, snow, dry weather or mild weather. 1997 we struck it rich and had a spring full of well-positioned "cut-off " lows at jet stream level which meant an unusually high amount of spring snow. I don't recall how late Mad River Glen remained open in the '96-'97 season but it was an epic season at Tuckerman's ravine when if I remember correctly, skiers were riding John Shurbourne to Pinkham Notch well into May.

1997 featured a period of warm weather early in March before the pattern reverted back to cold. It would not be surprising to see 10 days of mild weather to finish the month of March here and then more cold weather. It may not be enough to keep MRG open well into April but it would be wise to keep the ski's and the winter weather gear handy.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Hitting another one out of the park - 16" to 24" of the white stuff for Mr. Shamrock

I don't want to hear any complaints about how the snow is better over some different section of the northeast. MRG is poised to "sweetspot" another big noreaster. And it is no misprint, there will be no place better than the northern half of Vermont and no ski area better to enjoy the big powder than MRG. And no better time since very warm weather continues to loom toward the end of next week and persisting through the rest of the month of March.

The St Paddy's Day Storm of '07

North winds have brought the cold back into the region as of Thursday night and put the mud on temporary leave I am happy to say. Of equal importance was the injection of dry air into the region and single digit dewpoints. This helps to lower the wet bulb temperature which means a lower temperature when the snow is falling which means powder as opposed to wet glop. That powder will begin falling and begin accumulating at 1-2 inches per hour Friday evening. As mentioned a few times the storm evolves as the amplification of a strong eastern upper trough re-energizes the cold front which already has passed us by as of late Thursday. As this storm really begins to get juiced on the Mid-Atlantic coast the dynamics aloft will provide a healthy negatively tilted diffluent area over New England. To put it plainly the aforementioned is a mechanism which throws the deep moisture back into the cold conveyor of the storm. Many times over the past few years it is this very feature which is lacking and thus the moisture and snow get confined to coastal areas. Anyways the track of the storm barring a change will be west of the city of Boston. This will most certainly bring a change to fain for Beantown but will also push the snow/sleet line into Vermont along a southwest to northeast running line. I think our worries over this are minimal. The 1-2 inch an hour snow will become 3-4 inch an hour snow in the pre-dawn hours and by the time the sleet lines nears, our 16-plus inches of snow will have already fallen, the lifts will begin to churn if all goes well.

Any wind hold Saturday ??
The storm will bring with it the classic northeast wind Friday night which will become north Saturday morning. Winds will be rather feisty but I gave this some study after the wind hold situation on March 2nd and discovered that the strength of the low level jet over Vermont in the March 2nd event was incredibly strong and thus produced the threshold winds at the summit. The low level jet is not as strong in this case so my guess is no wind hold but check for any updates. Wind holds are difficult to predict and occur many times because of wind direction rather than speed.

More snow Sunday more snow Monday night
Terrain induced snow stemming from the powerful upper air support associated with the storm will begin Saturday night and mean additional snowfall both before and during the day Sunday. The snowfall Friday night will be of the high density variety, the snow Sunday will be all fluff and very low density and may persist through the evening before tapering off. We could easily do another 4-8" out of this before it subsides A fast moving clipper then brings a round of light snow Monday night before the last round of colder temperatures pushes in late Tuesday into Wednesday.

How warm in the long range ?
And then its the warmth which will come fast and intense and corn up all of the snow by the end of the week. This is not above-freezing warmth either this is potentially 65-degree warmth by Friday the 23rd. Assuming we keep the rain away, some big time spring conditions can be had. There will be oscillations in the intensity of the mild weather but it will persist for a time and seriously eat at the base before the month is out. Nothing unusual for late March but the pattern fundamentals appear especially warm in this case presenting the possibility of another 1998-like late March situation.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Big time powder looking more like reality for St Paddy's Day !!!

The winter comeback is real and talk of a storm for Saturday will pick up some big time steam if it hasn't already on Thursday. Following some rain, colder weather will slowly build back into the region, just enough in fact to set the stage for another major dump of snow beginining Friday evening and persisting through early Saturday. The culprit is the re-energized front which will evolve into major east coast storm by Saturday morning sending moisture deep into interior New England. Models are not entirely certain on the track of the storm but the consensus of information has the deep moisture reaching much of the North Country. The challenge now shifts to keeping all levels of the atmosphere at sub-freezing thus preventing snow from changing to some sortve unwanted alternative. An update will be needed to fine tune whether or not this will happen and to close the range on expected snowfall. As of now I would put this range at a generous 8-24 inches, enough to qualify this as the St Paddy's day storm of 2007.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Winter makes a comeback this weekend but strong indications of warmth perist late this month

The general theme from the last post was "changeable" and while we continue to see a change in the weather at least the theme of the SCWB posts remain unchanged. I continue to give my blessing to Wednesday in spite of what NWS Burlington is suggesting. Heck, why not have a little fun with the short term forecast late in the game. NWS Burlington is calling for showers in the morning Wednesday and then rain in the afternoon with the chance of precipitation at 80 percent. I think most of the rain stays away from MRG during the ski day Wedneday or at least through 3 pm. Instead I think we see a few hours of blue skies to go along with the very mild weather where temps at the base will reach or exceed 50 degrees. We will just have to see what happens but my reasoning behind forecast can be attributed to the nature of this weather system. Most of the vertical motion tomorrow will be frontogenetic and the system tomorrow will become anafrontal. This means that precipitation tomorrow will fall north of the cold front or north of MRG, at least until late in the day.

Winter makes a 5-day comeback after some rain Thursday
As the cold front sags south Thursday the doors will be open for rain which should fall mostly during the morning hours. Drier and colder air will then push south and assume the drivers seat position. Although it will not stay dry the cold weather will remain in place through the middle of next week which opens the door for a resurgence in more winter-like conditions on the mountain. The first chance for snow comes late Friday or early Saturday as the front (now well to the south) is re-energized and an east coast system of a somewhat uncertain nature comes to life. The possibility range is still a bit wide here and if we fail to entrain enough cold air into the region on Friday we could be looking at a cold rain or ice. The more optimistic outcome has snow either late Friday or Saturday and at least a few inches of powder for Saturday. Following a cold and somewhat blustery Sunday, a clipper system approaches for Monday bringing another chance of both synoptic and later terrain induced snow. The cold is then re-enforced very significantly with much below normal temperatures Tuesday or Wednesday.

Long range has a very warm appearance
The long range outlook has changed little since the last update and the already proposed ideas can be amplified further based on the continuing stream of incoming data. Unseasonable warmth of a rather incredible magnitude is the indication for the period beginning late next week and lasting through next weekend. Many of these ideas could change significantly but a fair translation would be for few days where temperatures exceed 60 degrees and a lot of melt. Not unusual I suppose to see anomalous weather in March and such may be the case beginning late next week on the warm side.

The Quick Summary
SCWB fights NWS Burlington for mainly dry weather through 3 pm Wednesday. Winter makes a return for the weekend through the middle of next week and then it could get very, very warm.

Sunday, March 11, 2007

Changeable March weather to continue

With tickets at MRG now discounted to the bargain price of $29 for the duration of the season, the SCWB will also be updated at a discount which essentially means shorter updates and hopefully more to the point (although I'll believe it when I actually see it when it comes to my writing). The cold air has won many formidable battles as of late but mild weather is now in command and plans to remain so for most of the upcoming week. After that, it will be another roller coaster and the models fighting the sibling rivalry regarding the details. I am happy to report however that my take on the situation involves a high probability for one powder day next weekend.

Short term through Wednesday
Temperatures Monday and Tuesday will be sub-freezing in the morning and then warm into the 30's and 40's during the afternoon. Monday will be the sunnier but likely colder of the two with below freezing temperatures persisting longer into the day. There is a chance for a shower during the day Tuesday although whatever falls from the sky should be light. It is Wednesday which appears extremely mild and it is my opinion that afternoon temperatures surge to 50 and perhaps beyond before the day is out. The American Model disagrees with this notion suggesting a cloudier day Wednesday, not as warm, and perhaps some rain overspreading the region late in the day. I am going with the warmer hot off the presses European which would suggest a breezy but dynamite spring skiing type of day if your a fan of the corned-up softness.

Late this week and the weekend
The models have made a mess of themselves for late this week. There is no agreement what so ever regarding the details between Thursday and Saturday. In general however we do have a sense of the progression. At some point either Thursday or Friday we are going to get a healthy period of rain which for a time could become heavy I am sorry to report. I'll have to figure out the details in a subsequent update. As this is happening however a large upper level ridge is expected to build across the western United States which will allow much colder temperatures, which continue to persist across much of northern Canada to dive south into the eastern United States. The cold will invade as early as Friday and the rain may become a significant period of synoptic or terrain induced snow either late Friday or early Saturday. So, in spite of the mild weather and the rain this week, colder weather will return for the upcoming weekend and in all likelihood so will accumulating snow. Hopefully enough to cover any bare spots or ice which may develop.

More mild weather in the longer range
The ridge west/trough east scenario will continue through the first half of next week and in that time frame the colder, below average temperatures will continue to prevail. In addition there appears to be another chance for a snow producing storm between Monday and Wednesday. Wednesday of next week is the spring equinox and also marks the day where both the European and American Ensemble packages start to show an extremely big warm signal for much of the eastern United States including New England. It seems a bit rediculous to talk about agreement in the 11-15 day period when there is little in the first 5-days but the AO is shown to go very positive in this period so all signs point to a warm-up and a potential thaw after the 21st.

The Quick Summary
Warm to cold and then back to warm. New snow appears likely in the cold period beginning late Friday of this week and ending during the middle of next week.

Thursday, March 8, 2007

Riding the March roller coaster: Record cold Friday morning and then a thaw next week

The SCWB is getting a little dusty and an update is greatly needed. The month of March never ceases to amaze me. Statistically, it is one the noisiest months of the year in New England where temperatures have fallen to -25 F and have risen to as high as 70 F. The recent outbreak of cold has been historic, shattering records all across the state of Vermont by several degrees and even approaching historical lows for March in some instances. Several more records will get broken Friday morning as temperatures, once again fall to -20 F in some areas before warming into the 20's Friday afternoon. There is no need for the cold wax this weekend however. The temperature moderation Friday afternoon will be the beginning of a more signifcant trend, eventually evolving into our first real thaw of 2007. I suppose I should re-state since its our first real thaw since those disastrous first two weeks of January.

The Telefest Details
The weekend as it turns out, although significantly milder than the recent days, will not be as mild as once was expected (like my last update). Temperatures will start out in the teens and quickly rise to freezing and even a few beyond by the early afternoon. The high sun angle and the warmer temperatures will be enough to soften the snow, particularly at the low elevations but we should see an increase in clouds and eventually a full overcast by the middle of the afternoon. The precpitation which should arrive late in the day on Saturday is not likely to be snow but either rain, freezing rain, ice pellots or sleet depending on the excact location. It should be a rather short-lived round of precipitation, whatever falls, which will end as a bit of snow or flurries. Sunday appears mostly dry with temperatures in the 20's at the beginning of the day and 30's during the afternoon.

Signs of spring next week
The Arctic Oscillation index (AO) will surge to a big +2 next week and the Jet Stream will respond by tightening and becoming both very fast and very zonal. In addition to this is the trough which is expected to re-amplify across Western Canada. This would be a very sinister conspiracy if it were mid-winter but our big base should combine well with the warmer weather to make for some nice skiing. And I can say with growing confidence that it will get warm. NWS Burlington is saying low 40's which covers mainly the valley locations for Tuesday and Wednesday. At the MRG base, I would not at all be surprised to see temperatures climb into the 50's during the afternoon on at least two occasions between Tuesday and Friday. The best news with the warm weather involves the precipitation which will be minimal through Thursday. On Friday, a well organized storm system, fueled by a strengthing trough in the middle of the country may bring significant rain to the region followed by colder weather for the weekend of the 17th and 18th but its difficult to say for sure. If we do get rain accompanied by wind late next week, it will eat away at the base significantly but again, this hypothetical storm may never materialize or evolve differently relative to current model guidance.

Some cold/snow returns by next weekend
Ensembles erode the big trough in B.C./Alberta by the 17th and 18th and suggest that a large ridge develops across the western United States. The AO's big surge next week is also expected to be temporary in nature and a move back to neutral combined with the manifestation of the western ridge will allow for a return to colder weather and some new snow to go along with that after the 17th. All that being said, there is no strong signal for any sustained pattern of an anomalous nature. If colder and snow were to return on or just after the 18th, it may again be followed by another round of milder weather.

The Quick Summary
Record cold Friday morning but then some big changes and a thaw next week.

Sunday, March 4, 2007

Cold weather, new snow will keep our big base intact for a mild Telemark Festival

The last few days has been MRG at its very best. Conditions that are worth hiking up the mountain for when the Single Chair goes on a wind hold and enough snow to cover some normally very visible landmines. As of Sunday morning, the terrain induced snow machine has kicked into gear and the fluff is starting to accumulate. With high confidence, I can say that if you want to enjoy the powder, get out here over the next 5 days which promises to be a very wintry and surprisingly very cold week for early March. All of the recently fallen and soon to be fallen snow will remain on the ground for the all important Telemark Festival on the 10th and 11th but the mild weather will arrive and most likely so will the rain which has managed to avoid MRG for an amazing 55 days by my count.

Mountain fluff through Tuesday morning when it will turn very frigid
That oragraphic fluff that can so magically turn us into better skiers will accumulate nicely Sunday and Sunday evening and should set up Monday well for another powder day. Total accumulations by Monday morning may very well climb into the 4-8 range although some of this snow will be skied during the day Sunday. There is a very potent jet impulse however which will rocket southeastward out of central Canada Monday and bring with it another burst of heavy snow late Monday and Monday night. This will mean more terrain induced powder but also some windy and extremely cold conditions for early March by Tuesday. I just looked at a plot of temperatures for North America and there is an impressive arrangement of -40 to -50 degree temperatures across the Northwest Territories of Canada and the airmass poised to invade us Tuesday will bring with it some of this frigidness. High temperatures Tuesday will struggle to make it above zero on the mountain and temperatures Tuesday night and Wednesday may fall into the record category atop the deep snowcover Wednesday morning. The March sunshine can help to mitigate the effects of the chill a little since it isn't always hidden behind Stark Mountain but I didn't want to downplay this cold because its one of the more impressive invasions of arctic air I have seen in March. Furthermore, a clipper system which will pass to our south Wednesday will act to re-enforce the cold through Thursday before temperatures finally moderate significantly Friday. I recall Thursday that I had prognosticated 2-3 feet over a 5-day period beginning last Friday. We are at about a foot now and we can easily do another between Sunday and Tuesday morning thus putting us in my predicted range. I am happy to report however that very little if any of our impressive base will be lost for the upcoming Telemark Festival.

Telemark Festival Details
The Telefest details are as follows. Friday will see some cold temperatures in the morning but any sunshine will go to work and we will undergo the routine March afternoon snow softening. Now Friday could feature more clouds than I am giving it credit for which would limit the afternoon warmth. Warm advection is often accompanied by high cloudiness although at this time models are suggesting a good deal of sun for Friday. At this time models are also showing the potential for a very mild day Saturday with the possibility of some rain late in the day. With our base though, corn snow and spring conditions will be just fine so long as we can stay out of the rain and we may do that for most of the ski day although its early, very early to be specific. Some colder weather will then return on Sunday, hopefully accompanied by snow showers although my glass appears half empty on that possibility at least now. A full update on Telefest weekend will come Tuesday or Wednesday of this week.

The big March picture
It has been storminess central for Alaska, British Columbia and Alberta over the last few days and over the upcoming weeks. This has resulted from pattern consisting of a large trough over which has oscillated between the northeast Pacific Ocean and the western provinces of Canada. This is undoubtedly a less than desirable force ski weather here in Vermont but we have held it together impressively thanks blocking in the jet stream which has oscillated between northern Quebec and Greenland. The all important AO has been running close to neutral but has refused to go strongly positive, thank you, and is expected to remain neutral over the next week or so before re-assuming its negative state by the middle of the month. This would suggest that winter is unlikely to vanish rapidly into the night. Ensembles suggest that between the 9th and 14th of March, we could see some very mild days and perhaps some rain to go along with it. By the middle of the month however we could be back to seeing a mixture of mild March days and an occasional powder day.

The Quick Summary
Full of powder through Tuesday but very cold, even record breaking cold is set to set to invade for the middle of the week. Our luscious base remains in place for Telefest when it gets mild and hopefully does not rain while the lifts are open.

Thursday, March 1, 2007

Storm Update - New data shows a colder storm

I keep looking at the data as it comes in and with each successive run of the models, cross sections for northern and central Vermont appear colder. The last run of the high resolution model did not show an above freezing layer at MRG which would mean all precipitation Friday would be snow. What may end up happening is that instead of a significant amount of sleet Friday afternoon, a dry slot will move across the region which would mean a cloudy but mostly dry Friday afternoon after the heavy snow in the morning. In either case, we are getting our 6-10 by mid morning Friday and it will make for a great day.

Could we do 2-3 feet over the next 5 days - absolutely yes !!!
The better part of this situation continues to be the set-up in the aftermath of Friday. We have Friday evening where another round of snow will likely bring a few inches to the mountain. On Saturday however the dyanmics arrive and the terrain snow machine will kick into high gear. There will be undulations in the intensity of the snow and it will be hard to predict specific amounts each day. One period where the snow might become intense is Saturday afternoon and evening. Most importantly though is that the snow should continue in sporadic but at times intense fashion in the period beginning Saturday and ending Tuesday. When you the Saturday-Tuesday amounts with Friday's amounts 2-3 feet is a very reasonable guess. Be aware however that valley locations will see snow mainly on Friday and the limited sunshine on Saturday, Sunday and Monday could send temperatures in the Champlain Valley to near 40. It will be a lot different though in the high country and a lot better for skiing.