If that ski jacket you own comes with one of those powder skirts you better make sure it works because you can put it to use this weekend. The ghosts of Valentines Day have been put to work and are producing an event this Sunday which is very analogous to February 14th. Who would've thunk it !! Certainly not me since apparently someone injected with me the "glass-half-empty steroid" prior to that pre-season report I gave last month. But who really cares what was said and when. Without a doubt the best responsibility I have maintaining this blog is to hype a storm such as the likes of this one.
Dig back through the archives of the blog or in the recesses of your mind and recall that the Valentines Day Blizzard deepened to about 978 mb and tracked directly over the city of Boston. It was a juicy system also supported with moisture from the gulf, amplifying/digging upper air dynamics and a healthy supply of fresh low level cold air from eastern Canada. This system has about every part of what Valentines Day had including the cold air which will arrive on brisk northwest winds by Saturday morning. The difference would seem small but it does make the forecast a bit trickier. This storm, according to the models will track from Philadelphia, to Hartford to Worcester to Portland, Maine. In other words, if things go according to the plan, the storm tracks west of Boston bringing the above freezing temperatures in the mid-layers of the troposphere closer and eventually over MRG. So recall that the sweet spot for Valentines Day storm was at the base of the Single Chair and I marked the spot with some red tape if anyone wants to take a look (joke). For this event, the sweet spot will probably be closer to Mt. Marcy in the Adirondacks. That is quite alright though because Mt Marcy is really not that far away.
High clouds from the rapidly strengthening system may arrive as early as the afternoon Saturday which will help to keep temperatures at or below 10. Calm winds and the new snow received throughout this past week will help to make it a pretty good day to ski. Good visibility will do wonders for the view as well (won't be much of a view on Sunday). My guess right now is that the snow commences around 8 am Sunday with a minimal accumulation by first tracks time if any at all. I know a few inches would be nice but the timing here isn't bad since the first 6-8 hours of the storm will be the part which does not feature as much wind thus putting us less at risk for any wind holds. Believe me once this snow starts coming down by mid-morning it will accumulate at a rate of between 2-3 inches an hour and this should persist throughout the end of the day. In other words, it will be all about last tracks since that 3:30 pm run I know everyone plans to take will feature nearly a foot of new powder to ski in. In all seriousness though, please drive safe if your traveling Sunday and consider staying at a lodge and taking the day off Monday. It will be a epic day to ski but a miserable day to travel particularly during the evening when the wind intensifies. The interstates should improve dramatically by late Monday.
Some have accused me of sleet-a-phobia and I will argue that I have none. I am just an east coast realist as far as weather is concerned and I have also looked at the temperature cross sections about 10 different ways. The change to sleet will occur during the evening and last for a period of around 3-6 hours Sunday night before we go back to a period snow prior to first tracks Monday. Snow and sleet accumulations will be in the 16-30 inch range with much predicated on the duration of the sleet. We will not get any freezing rain however which means none of that dreaded breakable crust. What I can say is that this storm assuredly puts the mountain in fantastic shape heading into the X-Mas holiday as far as the base is concerned.
Next Week and Beyond
The snow on Monday will taper to snow showers and flurries. It will be blustery and quite chilly as it always is following a big storm such as this. On Tuesday the winds diminish but remains cold with temperatures below zero in the morning and in the teens during the afternoon. On Wednesday, a clipper system will bring limited amounts of moisture to the region which will likely be deposited as a small accumulation of snow and giving us a powder day (either Wednesday or Thursday).
Now I hinted at a potential pattern change of a possible adverse variety late next week and indeed some of the teleconnection indices specifically the PNA will turn unfavorable by the winter solstice. Data however from both the medium range model guidance and the ensembles seems to be delaying the effects of this pattern change in the northeast and is suggesting that the turn to milder weather will be felt most dramatically in the plains. This is certainly encouraging for the time being and we will have to hope that an ample supply of cold air is still available X-Mas weekend prior to the arrival of the next system which still has a zillion possibilities as far as its impacts on MRG are concerned. More will follow on this but for now I will stay focused on the storm and will provide another/shorter update regarding that sometime on Saturday.