Think Snow, Tweet Snow !!!

Monday, December 29, 2008

Relief is on the way

I have not been up to watch the serious erosion of snow which apparently has occurred even around Mad River. I can't handle it mentally and usually prefer to lock myself inside and watch football. Some new snow however will make an immediate arrival on Monday night in form of a fast moving moving alberta clipper. The limited moisture with this system will receive some much needed terrain enhancement and I would expect 3-5 inches by later tomorrow with most of this snow falling before first tracks time tomorrow. The second and stronger system is more of a product of the Pacific. It will make its arrival early on New Years eve but its forecasted track in the last 24-48 hours has shifted south and the corridor of heaviest snow is now expected to be over southern New England. The likely scenario at this point is a light accumulation New Years eve followed by a turn to much colder temps which marks a more permanent shift in the pattern discussed in the previous post.

Pattern aligning itself in a very "right" way
One has to be seriously encouraged with the outlook for the first half of January. The NAO shift is the first triggering mechanism but this will be combined later in the month with what now appears to be a complete elimination of the trough across the west. This is a new development as of today since it was only in the last post that I had still expressed concern about the on goings in the Pacific Northwest and its ramifications farther east. Now it appears as if the NAO shift will be combined with the building of a ridge across the west and this severely weakens the threat for rain for at least the first 15 days of January. If we shut down the Pacific entirely, including the all important moisture supply of the jet stream's southern branch than it could be more of a dry cold but this is jumping a bit ahead of ourselves. The first 10 days of January will feature at least 2 significant storms and I am encouraged that we will recover a healthy percentage of what was recently lost.

Two storms to watch in the first 7 days of '09
The storm this weekend continues to have promise and potential. We will get some snow out of this but uncertainty looms regarding amounts. The storm is another product of the Pacific and there have been generally consistent indications that some additional Atlantic Ocean moisture could seriously boost this storm into a big snowmaker for interior New England. This said, the storm is a quick mover, and the consequences of the storms interaction with the Atlantic Ocean could be felt farther east as opposed to MRG. The second storm arrives in the time frame of January 6th or January 7th. Models at face value suggest mixed precipitation is possible with this but I am counting on the historically reliable NAO to have our backs on this one and discourage this storm from tracking in a unfavorable way.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

NAO turning sharply negative - more favorable pattern will be the result !!!

In the meantime though we are watching the final chickens as they return home to roost in the form of a stretch of mild weather. I am actually feeling a bit fortunate today as it appears rainfall amounts will be much less than feared a few days ago. This mild weather was foreseeable more than a week ago and there was a time when it appeared that some heavy rainfall could accompany this balmy binge. Instead it appears as if rainfall will be intermittent and light and for this I am thankful. No doubt we will lose some snow as temperatures soar to near 50 Sunday and new snow will be slow to arrive in the wake of all this warmth but come in will and ultimately it will come in significant quantities.

Transition back to winter is gradual but two clipper promise results by New Years Eve
The return to the seasonable chill that typically grips the Green Mountains this time of the year will also be somewhat slow to return. Above average temperatures will continue to grip the mountain Monday and it will be mainly dry but by Tuesday winter makes a full return. The catalyst is a clipper system which is a bit short on moisture but with an adequate upper air dynamic punch is likely to produce a few inches of powder prior to Tuesday's opening ceremony. Tuesday morning will be the first of two quick hitting clipper systems and the second on New Years Eve appears more organized and more capable of producing significant snowfall. Snowfall from the second clipper should begin in earnest in the pre-dawn hours Wednesday and continue well into the ski day Wednesday evening. Several inches of snow could be the result so long as this storms track doesn't drift too far to the south (some recent model guidance has been drifting south with the storm track and we will continue to watch it). Overall the period between Monday night and New Years eve could very well consist of snowfall at varying intensities through the entire period but accumulating snow is likely to be limited to the early hours of Tuesday and the early hours of Wednesday. At least one of these days will turn out to be the honest-to-god powder day that we are both hoping for and deserve.

Negative NAO and its results
All of the above is a result of a pattern transformation, largely the result of changes downstream in the jet stream. On the SCWB we refer to the NAO index as a measurement of the amount of jet stream blocking is occurring across the northern Atlantic Ocean stretching from the Davis Straits east across southern Greenland. The most important result of a downstream block in the jet stream is that it becomes increasingly difficult for storms tracking across the U.S. to take a northern track through the Great Lakes and into the St Lawrence Valley. The block, in essence, forces storms that are tempted by such a fate to often reform along the east coast. This in turn keeps mild weather and thaws very well contained. There are times when strong NAO regimes can drift west and cause an outbreak of mild weather across eastern Canada and interior New England. Such was the case in early February of 2005 although the mild weather was accompanied by dryness and sunshine. In this case the end result will not be mild weather at least through the first 5 days of January.

Major storm for the weekend 3rd and 4th
The possibility was in fact mentioned in the last post of a major storm for the weekend of the 3rd and 4th of the month and this is becoming increasingly likely. More specifically the storm appears to be product of a some very intense Pacific energy which may have the capability of reaching into the Gulf of Mexico or Atlantic Ocean for moisture. This could turn the weekend in question (the first in 2009) into an incredible period at MRG since it arrives on the heels of the two clippers in the days prior to New Years Day. It is somewhat disconcerting to see such intense activity in the Pacific and the long range ensembles do suggest that the strongest area of unsettled weather could be out in the Pacific Northwest for the first 10 days of January. If the downstream block does evolve into a major driving force in the pattern I suspect that we can avoid the outbreaks of mild weather in the first half of January which has plagued us even during a rather snowy December of 2008.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Incredible December skiing was had but now we must face the adverse part of an adverse pattern

The wind was ferocious enough yesterday to add quite a bit of density to the powder Monday but it was nonetheless epic and I have some pics to prove it which i hope to post over the next few days. The "dark side of the force" is going to lash out in angry fashion over the next week or so and we will have to deal with the consequences and move on from there. The weather pattern's driving force has been a large ridge that has established itself over the northern Pacific Ocean up and through the Alaska-Russia go-between. This has helped place a serious amount of early season cold in Canada, so much so that when the month finishes out it may very well be one of the coldest months our friendly northern neighbors have seen this decade (collectively). This jet stream feature however has generally promoted snow out in the west and in the week of head we will see this type of trend become greatly amplified.

Two weather events over the next 5 days will bring mixed precip, rain and mild weather
For those looking to squeeze every drop out of this recent stretch of fantastic weather, look to grab some first tracks on Christmas Eve as it appears some snow of the overrunning variety may fall. As Wednesday progresses however the snow will give way to warmer temperatures and perhaps a bit of sleet or freezing rain. Until this happens however it won't be a bad day to ski. Temperatures will hover above the freezing mark Wednesday night and precipitation will fall as rain for a time before cold weather re-establishes itself on Christmas Day. We may see a little snow X-mas day but not enough to make for any serious powder.

My lack of enthusiasm stems mostly from the outlook for the weekend as it appears we will be unable to repel a huge surge of warmth which stems from a rapidly amplifying east coast ridge. A combination of snow, sleet and freezing rain (mostly the latter two) is likely late Friday evening. In the wake of this however will be at least a 24-hour stretch of above freezing temperatures and eventually a period of rain early Sunday. I do have some concern that temperatures could climb well into the 40's which when combined with a bit of rain could prove to be a bit of a low blow.

Improvements will be gradual going into New Years and then beyond but at least one of our important teleconnection indicators will make a shift. The North Atlantic Oscillation index which is one of the three indices to be on the more unfavorable side of zero will move into the more favorable category around New Years Day. From here the pattern will find it difficult to simply continue in its trough west/ridge east mentality and we should see our threat of big surges of warmth and rain diminish. The need for some additional new natural snow will be vital at this time and it seems as if the potential is there for a storm between the 3rd and 6th of the month. Get the pattern right and the rest takes care of itself. It appears we take some steps to do this but not until after new year.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Sunday night dump will be an early X-Mas gift

And the snow which has begun as of Friday afternoon will turn early Saturday very powdery and I would thus recommend to our loyal MRG skiers to avoid too much in the way of holiday cheer, get up early tomorrow, and get to the mountain before the 6 or so inches gets skied off. I know 6 inches seems garden variety enough but the weather which results from this weather pattern will prove erratic so when the powder does come it would be best to appreciate it.

For my part, I am especially appreciative of what is to come Sunday. It will mark a temporary break in the trough west/ridge east regime and will allow a storm to send moisture our way from two directions. It will be the Altlantic Coast portion of the storm which will ultimately assume the primary role in weather making and snowfall which will begin later Sunday will become heavy Sunday night and ensure the most powdery day of the season on Monday. Upper level dynamics supporting the storm will move over the region early Monday and encourage snow of the more terrain induced variety during the morning. There is some debate on finer details of the storms actual track. Specifically, whether or not this storm tracks east of or west of Boston and this 100 mile uncertainty could make the difference on where the corridor of heaviest snow occurs. An east of Boston track would have the storms heaviest snow in New Hampshire. Either way however snowfall totals will be healthy and will range between 8 and 20 inches by late in the day Monday. Sorry for the big range but I am far more certain of the event itself as opposed to specific snowfall at least as of now.

The fresh supply of cold air which is currently maintaining a very firm grip on northern Vermont will quickly turn stale by Christmas day in spite of some very cold ski days Monday and Tuesday. As a consequence there should be some concern of mixed precipitation for the 3rd part of our 3 punch combo. Remember this is still a rather tricky overall regime and though we have sidestepped a few potentially thorny scenarios, there will be additional challenges ahead. The Christmas day event may be one of them although it is very close. The pattern between X-Mas and New Years is also tricky and may at some point include a 1-day mild stretch of weather and a rain/ice event. Flatten the eastern ridge a bit more than what is currently being indicated and the result could be drastically different as this weekend is turning out to be.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

A big 1-2 and possibly 3 punch combo promises powder and lots of it in the week before Christmas !!

Hard to imagine a better Wednesday evening blog entry. Two strong weather systems lead the headline and both are going to provide some powdery goodness over the next 5 days and a possible third within a day or so of X-mas. And for those waiting and worrying about the skiing for Christmas and beyond, the sum of the snow from these storms will at the very least sure up the base and ensure that a healthy percentage of the mountain will be skiable.

The Players
Arctic air which continues to cover the greater majority of Canada is proving to be a potent force and its influence will overwhelm the more unfavorable teleconnections driving the global long wave pattern. With that said we are going to get some support from the development of a very important long wave feature over the next few days. This feature is often described in meteorological classrooms as a "jet max" or an area of "confluence" and it describes a zone where the jet stream is flowing west to east at a very intense speed. When such a jet max sets up near Newfoundland, as this one will, it can produce a very snowy result in the upwind region including New England. The effect of the "jet max" allows very cold, very dry air in eastern Canada to drop southward into the northeast. As the atmosphere saturates with the approach of a weather system, the very dry, very cold air keeps the effective wet bulb temperature very low and expands the area of snowfall over New England. This particular "jet max" will ultimately combine with a manifesting split flow situation in the Rockies to produce one of the snowiest December weeks since 2002.

Storm #1
The first storm will track quickly out of the southern Rockies and into the Midwest bringing precipitation to Ohio mostly in the form of rain. As this strengthening weather system encounters some of the aforementioned cold produced by the aforementioned "jet max" an area of snow will expand across the New York city area and in southern New England. North-central Vermont will be on the northern edge of this expanding area of snow which will begin in the early afternoon Friday and persist at a mostly light intensity into the night. By first tracks time on Saturday, we should have 3-6 inches of powder to ski in. Temperatures Saturday and throughout the weekend will be considerably colder verses some of the expectations earlier this week. High temperatures Saturday will struggle into the low teens, drop below zero Saturday night and then rise into the teens again Sunday. Winds will be out of the north most of the weekend but should not be very intense.

Storm #2
The second system will be stronger and a bit more dynamic. Its track will also be more conducive for a major snowfall for Mad River Glen and surrounding Vermont. Details are certain to change but the storm will follow a familiar story line of strong weather system in the Midwest transferring its energy to the Mid-Atlantic coast and depositing healthy amounts of moisture into New England. Along the coast, early snow will be followed by a transition to rain. Across the interior it will be snow which could turn heavy and lead to a widespread area of 1-2 foot storm totals. Snow will arrive later Sunday and continue into the night and will thus set up Monday as the best powder day of the year so far.

And could it be ?? A third ??
The possible third system will have impact within a day or so of Christmas Day. It will follow a period of very cold weather across interior New England in the wake of Monday's powder-fest. It will however be the third in this series of relatively moist systems to get shot out of the very unsettled pattern in the southern Rockies. It has the very wonderful look of 1993-1994 when the teleconnections were generally unfavorable, the storm track appeared precarious and yet the combination of a strong supply of cold combined with the split flow in the west yielded an epic season of powder. We can only hope that the results will continue to be as good as what this upcoming week appears to be. Enjoy it, I know I will !

Sunday, December 14, 2008

An improved outlook

Some big improvements in the forecast to detail. We still have nuisances that are resulting from the overall pattern and some of those nuisances are still move of a headache. As I mentioned though in previous posts, there has been a very impressive area of cold that has developed over Canada and this is proving to be a major force and a positive one as far as us Vermont skiers are concerned. Below is an abbreviated depiction of North American temps and seeing such a widespread area of -30 degree readings across the western provinces of Canada marks a very impressive start to the winter season.

So the surge of warmth remains on schedule for tomorrow obviously and the mountain should see temperatures rise into the 40's. This warm-up could have been worse in terms of duration and intensity and what also could have been worse is the rainfall later Monday which now, according to our trusty computer guidance, is only expected to total around a quarter of an inch. Tuesday will be dry but we are back in the chill and awaiting our next shot at natural snow.

All three teleconnection indices are either neutral or unfavorable for us and the pattern overall places all the cold and most of the snow in the central or western sections of the United States. Even coastal sections of the Pacific Northwest from Portland, Oregon to Vancouver are seeing significant snowfall as of Sunday morning. That all being said, arctic air covers most of Canada and the eastern ridge now appears as if it will get beat back and flattened as this week progresses. Much of the Mid-Atlantic and Southeast will remain quite mild but latitude will give Vermont an edge and we hope that in the end MRG can be on the winning side of an all out war between the warmth to the southeast and the very cold aforementioned arctic air in Canada.

Active pattern taking shape with 3 wintry events possible in a 6-day period
The specifics include many fine details in what should be an active pattern. The first chance for snow comes Wednesday, a simple case of overrunning where warmth from our southeast sub-tropical ridge is trying to erode the existing New England cold. The result is an area of snow that should persist through much of the day before ending as some sleet or freezing drizzle later in the day. 3-5 inches is a very realistic expectation for this event with an inch or so possible by first tracks time. Next weekend gets even more interesting with two systems on the dinner table. The pattern is such that small changes in the overall long-wave pattern structure will yield profound changes in the track and intensity of both these storms. At this time, the first system on Friday, looks to be another overrrunning event with a surge of warmth from the southeast will induce a zone of snowfall somewhere between interior New England and Quebec. There are still indications that too much mid-level warmth could crush our chances of significant snowfall early in the weekend and cause more of an ice event but I am much more optimistic than I was a few days ago. The second event is also iffy also but could be occurring at a time when the overall ridge/trough configuration across the U.S. is temporarily repositioned in a more favorable way for us as we approach the winter solstice. The upside with the second system is quite high were it to occur since it is a question of snow or nothing as opposed to snow or ice.

And then we move to the Christmas holiday and will still unfortunately be dealing with the ramifications of a rather unfavorable set of pattern variables. If I would have to guess, I think it is likely we will have to deal with at least one system that will bring precipitation other than snow. With that said, cold weather should remain on the playing field; in fact, we could see the coldest weather of the season around the time of the 22nd or 23rd and I would expect arctic cold in some capacity to exert some influence on the region through the rest of the month. It will help in our effort to bring new natural snow to the mountain. I know some don't like the cold when hitting the slopes but for us it is a necessary ingredient when some outside extraneous forces are working against us. Think snow and lets root for the best !!

Thursday, December 11, 2008

By a razor thin margin...

the precipitation late Thursday night into Friday morning appears to be in the form of snow. This is a system that is now plugged into the Gulf of Mexico's moisture source and will track in what appears to be a favorable direction, ultimately passing just west of the city of Boston before continuing on its travels northeast toward the Canadian maritimes. It will a quick moving system with a very confined corridor of snow. This means many locations will miss out and it much of northern Vermont stands to perform the best in terms of snowfall totals. The storm is also oh so close to being too warm at critical levels but it appears as if our supply of arctic cold from Canada has arrived in adequate strength to keep precipitation falling in the form of snow. Indications are though that our friends in central and southern Vermont will not be nearly as lucky with a changeover to sleet and freezing rain more likely the farther south you go. Snow will end or taper to flurries later in the day Friday but snowfall totals will range between 8-12 inches. Temperatures look just cold enough to support power (middle to high 20's) but any sleet could hurt the quality of the snow.

I don't have any good news regarding the pattern in the longer range. Still looking at a big warm-up early next week, a temporary return to cold for the middle of the week before another push of milder air around December 19th. Cold continues to expand very impressively in Canada and if the eastern upper ridge flattens toward Christmas things should get alot more interesting. Enjoy the snow !!

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Horizon is now littered with trouble

As there now is a building consensus for a well defined western trough and an equally well-defined eastern ridge. This folks is a problem since the Great Lakes are unfrozen and when combined with an ill-favored pattern can make our access cold weather very limited. So a few days ago it looked like we would be dealing with one or two rogue intruders and it now looks like we will be playing defense against a well-coordinated battalion. A strong western upper level trough should be expected from time to time this winter given the negative state of the PDO. Furthermore, our friends out west have been hurting so far this winter as the season has started out both warm and very snowless. Check out the lack of snow across the interior west, a rare sight to have such a widespread area of the mountain-west snowless.

The rain on Wednesday is likely to end as snow as cold makes a southward push into northern Vermont late in the day. Clouds will remain in place as a second area of low pressure organizes itself in the southeast and makes a run at New England late in the day. The american model has been generally consistent that precipitation in northern and most of central Vermont falls in the form of snow Thursday night into early Friday and forecasts from the National Weather Service are suggesting as much. The American model at face value suggests that snowfall will be in the 6-10 inch range prior to Friday but the American model is not the only apple on the tree. Alternative model guidance from Europe is suggesting a much warmer system where precipitation is mostly falling in a form other than snow. The European model is the preferred guidance in this time frame so one has to take it seriously and at least assume a compromise and a hybrid system including a mix of snow and sleet for Friday December 12th with total accumulations of only a few inches. There at least remains the potential for decent storm going into what could be opening day so we will wait and watch and hope for some good news.

Flurries Friday and colder weather will be followed by dry and cold weather Saturday. Daytime temps will be in the teens and 20's while low temperatures Friday night will be in the single numbers. Sunday should see a return of milder weather with temps approaching the 30 degree mark. The chances for a powder day over the weekend appear slim however as the atmosphere will quickly stabilize in the wake of our Thursday night weather system.

The week beginning the 14th and ending the 20th is starting to look a bit ugly. The push of very mild air for early next week appears ferocious now and will cover much of the St Lawrence Valley along with all of interior New England by later Monday. At this point our best hope is to limit any rainfall that may arrive in the middle of the week with the incoming cold front. Cold weather arrives toward the middle of the week but its arrival may very well be followed by a quick departure as another surge of mild air threatens to bring more precipitation of a mixed or rainy variety by the 19th and 20th. It appears to be a potentially very lousy weather pattern going into Christmas and we will have to hope that the eastern ridge can get flattened just enough to lower the storm track a few hundred miles. It looks much more adverse today yes, but we did have a few such patterns last year (a negative PDO year) to contend with. For the most part we contended successfully and I can recall specifically how bad the week following the Super Bowl appeared and it turned abruptly and dramatically and we made out very well. Furthermore we do have a substantial amount of very cold weather in Canada and a slight shift here or an undulation there could allow the mountain to put our latitude to good use.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Arctic air shifts west...

and in a word this is discouraging. We have been in a generally favorable pattern for the better part of 3-4 weeks and many of the low lying areas of Vermont remain snowless. As we head toward opening day, the immediate horizon has the coldest weather so far this season arriving Sunday night into Monday but it precedes a rapid warm-up and what will likely be several hours of rain on Wednesday as a large upper level ridge is allowed to retrograde from the Atlantic Ocean to Atlantic Coast. This was one of my concerns expressed in the last post but even I underestimated the precarious nature of the pattern and the speed at which the cold could be eroded.

There is a silver lining I just wish it was a bit brighter. The mid-week storm system this week is a moist one. As the push of mild weather commences, the region will pick up a few inches of snow Monday night into Tuesday. After what looks to be an unavoidable round of rain on Wednesday and temperatures in the 40's, a fresh infusion of cold air will arrive in front of what looks to be a second wave of low pressure. This could produce several more inches of snow during the day Thursday. If all goes well, the several inches of powder would be the last precipitation to occur before Friday. We just hope that any snow more than makes up for the rain and mild temperatures which is set to impact all elevations on Wednesday.

The westward shift in the arctic air results from a global shift in some very important upper level features. The biggest of which is the movement of a ridge which currently covers western North America but is slated to move rather briskly westward over Alaska and ultimately situate itself over extreme northeastern Russia by the middle of this month. arctic air, and plenty of it will therefore focus its attention on areas mostly west of the Mississippi River. Vermont will have to use every bit of its 44 N latitude and hope for the best. The ensembles have disagreed on the specific impact a strong western trough might have on Vermont. The american ensembles do indicate that an eastern ridge could be weaker and flatter and allow cold weather to maintain a loose grip on interior New England. Along with this would be continuous rounds of winter weather. A stronger eastern ridge however would open the door for an event like the one mid-week to repeat itself.

As early as December 14th there are signs of another mild push and another snow to non-snow event. And whatever happens between the 14th and 16th of the month will have a lot to say about what kind of skiing we will be dealing with going into the Christmas holiday. There is plenty on the table to analyze so lets give it a few days and see how things look then.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Mild through Thursday but both cold and snow to follow

Mad River seems to be targeting December 13th as the grand opening. This is still several days away and I don't want to suffer from blogger burn-out early in the season so this update will be kept short. We are dealing with a temporary intrusion of mostly Pacific air in the wake of the Sunday/Monday weather event. Arctic air will make a return by early Friday and with it will come lake effect snow showers of a diminished and occasional variety. There is a clipper system Sunday that is already drawing attention. It appears likely that its interaction with the Atlantic Coast will lead to explosive intensification and at least some accumulation of snow is likely both across interior and coastal New England. Behind that system comes the coldest weather so far this season and likely the first sub-zero temperatures on the mountain by Tuesday morning of December 9th.

Guidance this morning still suggests that much of the cold across the Northern Hemisphere will maintain its focus on North America. The center of this focus remains a question however as there are indications of a westward shift in the mean trough. The result could be an all out street fight between the sub-tropical Atlantic Ocean ridge and arctic air to the west. Active weather would be one of the results including snowfall but there is the risk of precipitation of a non-snow variety. This is more or less how the crystal ball appears beginning around the weekend of the 13th or 14th. Until then however the pattern apppears favorable and there is at least one more clipper system during the middle of next week which appears poised to deliver some additional new snow for opening day.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Sunday night event will fall short of expectations but high hopes remain for December

The old adage "be careful what you wish for" is what first comes to mind regarding our Sunday night event. The storm was a hot prospect a few days ago potentially turning into a big early season snow event. Unfortunately everything is came together a bit too fast. The primary storm center back in the Midwest is too strong and became so too fast and is thus sucking energy away from the coast and flooding the eastern seaboard with mild air at key levels of the atmosphere. Mad River will still make out just fine out of all this. Precipitation will start as a period of snow this evening, accumulate several inches before changing to a mix of sleet and freezing rain sometime within a few hours of midnight on Monday. The layer of warmth responsible for the change to "non-snow" is a fairly potent one and it will be interesting to see how warm Mt Washington gets since the inversion should encompass the summit. My guess is the observatory there will be 5-10 degrees warmer than the base of Mad River Monday morning but we will see.

Light snows and some light accumulations across the high terrain can be expected later Monday, Monday night and into Tuesday stemming mostly from the upper trough induced instability. Dry weather can then be expected Wednesday into early Thursday and temperatures could climb into the 40's by Thursday afternoon as mild air makes a brief appearance out ahead of an approaching cold front.

The pattern has been generally cold across southeastern North America over the past few weeks mainly due to the fortuitous global positioning of upper ridges in troughs. I remain very optimistic going well into December although fundamentally the above mentioned global positioning of ridges and troughs will undergo some changes. The most glaring is that the ridging and blocking will make a high latitude migration. By the tenth of the month, two areas of ridging will be noted one across the Bering Sea and another across Northern Europe. The two features will force most of the most intense cold to the North American side of the globe and will be centered over Canada by the middle of month making frequent intrusions into at least northern areas of the United States including northern New England. This is a different pattern than the prevailing pattern of the last two weeks where the center of the cold was deep in the southeast. Most of Canada in fact has a had a very warm month of November with much of the country running 3 degrees above average or more for the month.

As far as snow is concerned we should also fair quite well. A few rain showers could precede the turn to colder weather late on Thursday. Terrain induced instability snow showers should then grace the mountain going into the weekend and may provide the necessary shot in the arm for an opening at MRG. It will be a pattern consisting of a relatively inactive southern branch and a powerful polar jet so our snow beyond the 7th will result mostly from clipper systems. They could prove to be quite frequent however with accumulating snow on the mountain once every two days either of the terrain induced variety or from the clippers themselves. All told I would not be surprised to see some of the best December skiing since 2000 by the time we reach the 15th or the 20th of the month.

It will be a good month to be unemployed ;)

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Yes, the time has come for 2008-2009...

And based on the number of emails I have received over the past two weeks it seems we are ready for a taste of winter, some powder and a trip up the single chair. My apologies for not getting things kicked started a bit earlier. I am still alive and so is the blog, which to be honest is a bit of a comfort considering the temporary peril my career seems to be in at the moment and the thought of having to test a rather challenging job market. At the very least there is plenty of time for blogging and if we can get a good early start to winter I might get the chance at a few mid-week powder days. I mean if we could put a price on a powder day at Mad River then why the heck would anybody start a blog like this ? So with all that said, the 08-09 season begins and hopefully turns into a memorable one for I could very much use it.

The seasonal part arrives a big late so I will summarize my thoughts and then move quickly into some prognostications for the next few weeks. Completely ignoring the current state of affairs and all the early snow, my favorite early season indicators appear to be very similar to last year. The one exception is the state of the ENSO; which, when compared to last year is running much closer to average. The ENSO describes the state of the equatorial Pacific and an ENSO event includes the likes of an El Nino or La Nina which is synonymous with sea surface temperatures that are running above or below average respectively. This years temperatures in the equatorial Pacific are closer to average, a sharp contrast to last year where clearly La Nina was clearly establishing itself as an early and dominant force on the weather. The La Nina indeed proved to be such a force last winter though its impact was wide ranging. It did as predicted bring numerous and quite disruptive rain events but a persistent storm track provided plenty of powder. It was a headache to keep track of the changes but the results were at least better than I expected. With the ENSO in a neutral state, my expectations have risen considerably. With the lack of a strong southeast ridge, I would expect the storm track to be further south and the weather pattern to resemble the current one for long stretches of the winter (more on that later).

There are a set of negatives that accompany the perceived improvements with the ENSO situation. The index used to measure the Pacific Decadal Oscillation (PDO) remains very negative. Such a state encourages a trough in the western part of North America (similar to last year). Snow cover over the northern hemisphere for October and November has also been very unimpressive. It has lagged the 30-year average through the entire month of October and although making a half-hearted comeback in November, still lags the normal build-up of snow in the northern hemisphere in autumn. It should be noted that the build-up of ice in the Arctic has been faster than last year. It should also be noted that the ice in the same regions of the Arctic did not fall to the insanely low summer levels of 2007. This makes intuitive sense when one looks at the data for 2008 and sees that temperatures have actually ticked cooler verses 2007. Through October, 2008 temperatures are the 9th warmest in 129 years of data while 2007 ranked 2nd. Anyway, without going off on a complete tangent, the build-up of snow/ice overall does not argue for colder than average temperatures throughout the winter in spite of the cold which has occurred.

So in summary I am more optimistic than last year but in spite of some of the early similarities to the 2000-2001 dream season, I would expect this season to fall short of that one. Snowfall will run within the normal range this year totaling anywhere between 220-280 inches. Temperatures will run above the 30-year average for the winter by about 2 degrees and we will likely encounter a real mild stretch that could cripple skiing for a few weeks. Right now I would guess this occurs in January.

Enough of that though. Seasonal forecasts are made and then forgotten and often turn out be wrong however fun they are to create. The shorter term is both predictable and more important. We also happen to be in the midst of a extremely favorable early season characterized by a strong western U.S. ridge and equally strong eastern trough. Cold weather has been the result along with 20-30 inches of early season pre-thanksgiving snow. Better yet, we appear to be locked in to a very favorable teleconnection induced long-wave pattern. The Pacific-North American (PNA) index is making a run into positive territory while the North Atlantic Oscillation appears to want to throw an all out negative-state bash. The pattern over the past few weeks is relatively blocked at high latitudes while cold in many of the important middle latitudes including both in Europe and in the eastern United States.

In the very short term, the strong upper low, or the driving force behind the Monday-Tuesday snow is becoming relatively stuck in the eastern Great Lakes. It would be nice to get the fruits of its labor but through Wednesday it will be depositing its snow farther west. By Thanksgiving day and then on Friday, some of this upper level energy will get booted eastward and this should allow for a slow decline in temperatures on the mountain and accumulating snow of the light and elevation induced variety. Any snow will taper to flurries Saturday before it turns completely dry Sunday.

The next chance at a real significant event arrives Sunday night into early Monday. The snow would result from a clipper potentially gone wild as it interacts with the Atlantic Ocean. Such things do happen when eastern troughs amplify in a big way and such an amplification is expected to occur early next week. Colder weather will again follow which is very good news in this early season and a few more weaker clippers should reinforce the early start to winter this year. We will update continuously as the situation evolves and as Mad River Glen decides how and when it decides to open.

Happy Thanksgiving to all and welcome back. The comments are always appreciated even if I don't have time to respond to them all !!

Sunday, April 27, 2008

The 2008 sign-off

I will start the finale by apologizing. I have been a bit MIA due to some extraneous events and a ridiculous amount of travel and I therefore was not able to report on the extended period of spring skiing during the first half of April. The blog wouldn't be complete however without a proper farewell and so I will take this opportunity to wish everyone a happy spring and summer.

The winter of 2007-2008 took many of us prognosticaters by surprise. At the surface it would seem that perhaps there was no surprise. Temperatures came in above average over a broad area of the eastern seaboard and most of the major metropolitan areas saw below average snowfall and in some cases well below average. Meanwhile the configuration of weather was consistent with that of a La Nina. All of those midwestern cities that have received so little snowfall year after year this decade suddenly saw a big seasonal total. So will I take the credit for getting all of this right ? No, I will not. In my seasonal prognostication, I drew way too many analogies to 2005-2006 and this winter deviated quite significantly from that forgettable catastrophe.

Even as temperatures averaged above the 30 year mean we call normal, a closer look at the behavior of actual weather reveals a somewhat different story. Let me put it simply by just saying that "the cold would not go down without a fight". It would in fact take more than one hand to count the amount of times that this want-to-be genius was selling the cold at a discount only to find that its actual worth was much greater. The warm forecast can be attributed to the snow cover in autumn (over a standard deviation below normal in the northern hemisphere). The cold weather could very well be attributed to the same variable - snow cover, which was close to a 30-year high in January (it took 3 months to completely reverse).

The cold came in handy on a number of occasions, providing us with the necessary ingredients for snow. It certainly was vital since the storm track was aimed right over interior New England as it often is during stronger La Nina winters. South of this storm track performed horribly this winter while north of this track performed quite well. Take a look at these snowfall totals for some selected cites.

Montreal, Quebec - 142 inches (169 % of average)
Burlington, VT - 100 inches (131 % of average)
Boston, MA - 51 inches (113 % of average)
Philadephia, PA - 6 inches (25 % of average)

In the the language of anomalies that is quite a contrast. In other words, some pain and suffering had to be endured by skiers/riders who stayed at Seven Springs or Snowshoe WV this year. Latitidude was key at we had it at MRG and this proved to save our season.

See everyone next winter !


Thursday, April 10, 2008

Spring has sprung but winter will claw back

And as called on the blog, as part of the shortest update in history, we really did have a spectacular stretch of weather which provided for some great spring skiing. Thursday will be the last of such days as temperatures on the mountain again climb well into the 50's along with some sunshine. Friday however will bring the beginning of a very abrupt change. Both colder weather and clouds will mark what will be the start of a major pattern amplification. Talk of "amplifications" and east coast storms go hand and hand and much of Vermont will see an impact from a storm which will gather some strength across the Plains Thursday and advance eastward Friday. Temperatures are likely to be a bit warm at the surface to support snow and precipitation is likely to start as some rain on Friday. The rain will be periodic in nature but will continue through early Saturday along with temperatures in the 30's.

The longwave pattern will continue to amplify on Saturday and will allow the storm system to transfer much of its energy to the Atlantic Coast. This will also allow colder weather to advance both east and south into interior New England. By early Sunday temperatures both at the surface and aloft are cold enough to support snow but the storms organization that has yet to be answered. Specifically it is unclear whether we can tap into the remaining available moisture and get a significant period of snow out of this before the storm advances out to sea. From my perspective it seems very possible. Any snow is also very capable of accumulating later Sunday into Monday and at the very least conditions should be unstable enough for snow showers.

Winter will certainly make a splash in the form of temperatures on Sunday and Monday as temperatures are unlikely to climb much above freezing during the day. Thereafter, temperatures will modify very quickly and so will our spring conditions. 60-degree temperatures are again possible during the day by the middle part of the week.

Friday, April 4, 2008

Some wet snow and some rain Friday and then lots of warm dry days

A period of wet snow should fall in some very stale cold air during the day Friday. Even this however should change to rain later in the day and taper to drizzle during the evening. I can't get too excited about accumulations here given the temperatures. I am however excited about what looks to be an extended period of dry weather consisting of seasonable below freezing nights and warm days, many of which will be above 50 during the afternoon. Many of them also should feature sunshine. The clearing should take place during the middle of the day Saturday and Sunday should outstanding with plenty of sunshine. Enjoy it !

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Snow is possible for the weekend but the cold is losing its grip as April begins

Some of the low clouds and rain impacting much of Vermont Tuesday morning will give way a few breaks of sun and very mild weather as strong southerly winds blow the hint of seasonal change to MRG. This will be followed by rain showers and much colder temperatures Wednesday along with the occasional morning snow shower. After high temps of above 60 in some of the lower elevations Tuesday, Wednesday will see temperatures of near freezing and wind chills in the teens. Those kind of temperature and weather swings are a notorious characteristic of New England in early spring.

Weekend system could bring snow (its close) but powder is unlikely
The below normal temps will continue through thursday thanks to a decaying but once very strong late season arctic airmass which has helped to keep winter firmly in charge across the west during the last few days. The airmass will continue to weaken while over the east and will actually be quite stale upon the arrival of our next weather system. The NAO continues to battle it out with the prevailing western upper trough and it appears as though we will get a more favorable out of this late week storm system when it passes. It is April however and given the weakening nature of the airmass next week, our prospects for "powder" appear low. Snow remains a possibility however and could arrive as early as Friday and continue into the night before either tapering off Saturday or turning to drizzle or a light rain. We may indeed see temperatures as low as 10 during the middle of this week but while the storm is in progress I really don't expect temps to stray too far from freezing and may hover just above freezing at the base.

Spring skiing next week

There continues to be a big compition between the teleconnection indicators as we head toward next week regarding the prevailing weather pattern. The NAO, which has a tendency to provide us with the more favorable storm tracks continues to be negative and favorable. The PNA however is not providing much in the way of support however and this typically has a more direct correlation to temperatures relative to normal. Once the system clears during the weekend, the return of sunshine will mean that afternoon temperatures climb to well above freezing over a succession of days beginning Sunday and persisting through next week. So long as we stay mainly dry, this will not be a bad thing as we will see the harvesting of the corn crop (corn snow i should say).

Thursday, March 27, 2008

No rain this weekend but new snow will be limited

And it's somewhat disappointing to watch what was a borderline rain/snow event turn into a non-event. We have entered a pattern however where, with the help from the mostly negative NAO, most of the our potential weather makers have tracked further south verses some initial indications. As frustrating as this may be for the weekend, we are going to once again call on the NAO for some first aid next week as it looks like a couple of systems will need to track a bit further south in order to deliver us our much needed goods.

What our weekend storm will do
The weekend system in question exists as a result of a rather intense temperature contrast which stretches right across the middle of the country. The temperature contrast is often referred to by Meteorologists as a natural zone of "baroclinicity" and a baraclinic zone can be described as an area ripe for storm system development. And yes a storm will develop, but from an organizational standpoint it will fail to mature and will merely move east in disjointed fashion. Moisture from this system will arrive on the east coast as early as Thursday but will struggle to push north into Vermont. A period of snow is possible early Friday, perhaps enough for a light accumulation but later on Friday much drier air will prevail across the state and precipitation will be forced southward. The outcome for the weekend appears cold relative to normal and much drier relative to a few days ago. There is still enough low level instability for flurries throughout the day Saturday but the snow should not amount to much. Temperatures will struggle to reach the freezing mark on Saturday but should do so and then some on Sunday allowing for a bit of softer snow in the afternoon.

The next week looking glass
There are some competing forces in the pattern as we head into early April. We will see a substantial block develop across Greenland which will help to amplify the already negative NAO. At the same time however will be for the formation of a large trough across the west coast. The result will be a zone of above normal temps across the Plains which will at times try and extend eastward. One of these times will be during the arrival of another storm system early next week. This is why the NAO could prove to be instrumental here since this particular storm will need to trend south in order to provide us with any snow. We will be dealt a similar hand regarding yet another system which will impact the region in the time frame of next weekend. In between, I would expect temperatures to be a little below normal but in early April this can still mean well above freezing for afternoon high temperatures.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Our "big event" is way out to sea but we still are good for at least one powder day this week

And now that we finally have some support from our teleconnection indices, the east coast is seeing its most widespread outbreak of cold air since the middle of January. As it turned out, MRG didn't actually need this support but we nonetheless had to live on the edge with every storm and snowfall totals for the nothern part of the state this season were much greater than the southern part. As for the system early in the week, no part of the state is going to come out on the winning end of that one. The axis of the upper air support is simply too far east and changes in the pattern across the northwest part of the nation are going to force any storm on the playing field to continue moving east rather than north. The Greenland Block (-NAO) which was an important factor in the powder we received on Thursday and Friday is actually expected to weaken early this week but return in a weaker state next weekend. This would mean that winter is not quite finished with us yet.

The Powder Day - Wednesday is your best shot
More instability flurries and even a few snow showers are still possible Sunday and Monday although accumulations will be minimal if any and there will be intervals of sunshine through it all. On Tuesday we should see any morning sun give way to an overcast sky as a clipper system moves quickly through the Great Lakes. This system, as far as clippers go, actually does have some moisture and will begin depositing it on the mountain Tuesday evening in the form of snow. The pattern will continue to be progressive through the mid-part of the week meaning that the system will say good-bye almost before it says hello. The storm will however leave a pocket of instability in its wake and snow should continue for at least half the day on Wednesday. Between the 3-5 inches that falls Tuesday night and the additional 2-4 which is possible during the day on Wednesday, it seems that Wednesday is our winner as far the choice of ski days is concerned.

Next Weekend
There is yet another more significant storm or even a series of storms on the weather map late this week and into the weekend. The weather map actually has a very familiar look to it as the set-up appears oh so similar to the many systems which have impacted Vermont this winter. An amplifying trough in the west, a tight north-south gradient of temperatures in the east and a storm which could either track over southern New England and deliver us some snow or across the St Lawrence Valley which would thus yield a much less appetizing result. One encouraging aspect is the NAO which will be in the process of moving back into negative territory at this time and may help push this storm to the south. At this time, it does appear as if clouds and a period of snow is likely during the day Friday; thereafter, we could see a wide range of outcomes depending on the eventual track of the system). By Sunday, a return to colder weather is likely which would include the chance for TIS snow showers.

Early April continues to look on the chilly side of normal, at least until April 3rd or 4th. MRG's grand finale was April 7th and 8th last year and there are no spring thaw's on the horizon that would prevent the season from extending at least that far this year.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Friday's our best shot for a powder day

The NAO did its best and our midweek storm is now indicated to track over southern Vermont as opposed to the St Lawrence Valley. Still, we have the glaring lack of fresh cold air on the front flank of this system and this will hurt us as far as Wednesday is concerned. As advertised, the storm will slow its eastward progress over Nova Scotia and this will allow for the extended period of enhanced TIS activity I was hoping for.

The specifics
After a few inches of wet snow early Wednesday, we get a period mixed sleet and rain which will persist into the evening. After that the precipitation becomes more showery (in the form of rain) until the passage of the storms associated front and the arrival of our long awaited supply of cold. The snow showers will intensify gradually and temperatures will become cold enough during the evening for an accumulation of powder. It is easy to land yourself way off course when trying to predict amounts in these situations but my best guess is anywhere from 4 to 10 inches between late Thursday and late Friday. Low level instability is actually indicated to linger through the weekend although the depth of the unstable layer is expected to gradually decrease. This essentially means the snow showers will become less frequent and will be less intense. Still, we could see flurries all the way through Sunday.

Still watching early next week for the possibility of a big system

The system for early next week appears to be a "snow or no" situation which is rarity in this winter season. Most of the model guidance has been indicating that the trough may be too overwhelming to allow the storm to track close enough to the coast. That being said, the last run of the European model was flashing big event and the American model had the storm much closer to the coast verses its own prior indication. This will be worth a close watch as we do tend to see longwave troughs with shorter wavelengths in March as opposed to December in January. The timing of all this would have the impact of the storm beginning late Monday and persisting through Tuesday. Plenty of questions remained unanswered however and our chances for a big dump are still somewhat less than 50 percent.

A worst case scenerio for early next week would still allow for some new snow from a clipper system. There remains strong indications for a temperature moderation later in the week as the strength of the negative NAO and associated blocking begins to subside.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Midweek storm to start as rain and will hopefully end as snow

Its time to focus on what looks to be a powerful midweek storm system. In this La Nina year we have at times been dealt very little in the way of cold air as the many storms have approached. This is yet another case where the cold weather will remain focused on the western flank of the storms center. Precipitation will arrive Wednesday and any remaining cold from the weekend will by then be quite stale and allow precipitation to be a mix of sleet and freezing rain by around first tracks time. After that it is likely we are going to have to brave a period of rain.

Some details
Fortunately we have the NAO and a strong block at the southern tip of Greenland to help us. There is still time in fact for the storm which is currently indicated to travel through New York and into Quebec to track further south and thus improve the outcome. If that fails the aforementioned block will allow our storm to intensify while it slows its eastward progress across the Canadian Maritimes. This provides an extended opportunity for terrain induced snow as cold and instability combine with the lingering plume of wrap-around moisture. This outcome if it does occur would have the rain turn to snow showers late on Thursday and persist into Friday. In summary, it is going to be hard to turn Wednesday into a powder day as this appears to be the wet period for us. Thursday into Friday are a different story and a subsequent update will detail amounts and timing.

A cold weekend with another storm to watch
We are still on target for a period of below normal temperatures through the upcoming weekend. This is in association with a large upper trough which will allow the cold to extend fairly deep into the south. Models have been back and forth regarding our chances for precipitation. Specifically, there is another system that bares watching as it tracks through dixie over the weekend and prepares to make some sort of left turn on Sunday. Its eventual interaction with the Atlantic Coast and movement thereafter will have, as you might be able to guess, a profound impact on the big snow potential as we head into the early part of next week. At the very least, it appears as if the colder weather will remain in place through the middle of next week with a modification to follow during the middle of the week.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Some snow for the weekend and it gets more interesting next week

The developing block in the North Atlantic Ocean, the catylist for the sinking NAO, appears to be doing its job. Our weekend storm will get deflected to the south thus eliminating the chance for a prolonged period of rain or ice. Instead, the snowflakes should be flying through the early morning Saturday and should leave us with a few inches by first tracks time (3-6 for a storm total). Now we are not working with much when it comes to the cold air. Temperatures will be within a few degrees of freezing through Friday night and into Saturday and this means the snow will be of the more wet variety, particularly at the low elevations. The various pieces of this storm (and there are a few) will fail to align themselves until the system is well off the New England coast. This means that a big event is not likely for any of the Vermont ski areas. That being said, the storms upper air support will swing though Vermont on Sunday and should act to enhance the TIS activity. Sunday will also be blustery and colder and should allow for accumulations to be more powdery in character. It doesn't appear as if any of this snow sunday will be available for first tracks time but its hard to say for sure.

The snow on Sunday will continue into Sunday night and with the help of strong winds, should allow for at least a minimal amount of untracked powder Monday. The winds will subside by Tuesday and the cold will also modify but the questions and uncertainty begin to mount as we head into later Tuesday and the middle part of the week.

Mid-week storm or a crap-out
There is agreemeent next week on a split flow situation in the jet stream and by the end of the week, the formation of a large eastern U.S. trough along with a widespread area of below normal temperatures. The disagreement involves the handling of a very strong feature in the southern branch of the jet stream and it particularly relates to the speeed of this feature. If it successfully speeds into Texas by late on Tuesday then a phase with a developing trough is likely and would thus mean a big mid-week event MRG and surroundings. If this critical southern branch feature lolli-gags in the southwest then the pieces won't fit. Either I think some snow is likely with a powder day later in the week. The "big event" scenario would actually include some rain or mixed precipitation at the onset with a change-over to snow. What is particularly encouraging is that the NAO-block would force any storm to linger in the Canadian Maritimes and allow for a longer period of TIS activity. What is discouraging is that the American Model seems convinced on the big event while the European says "no dice". The European has the better track record in the 5-7 day forecast period but every dog has its day and nothing in the prognostication game is ever certain.

Long Range Notes
The period from the 20th to the 25th which includes a weekend will be a cold one relative to normal thanks largely to our NAO teleconnection. The eastern trough will in fact be large enough to allow cold air to envelop quite a large area of the eastern United States and eliminate the southern branch as a producer of storms. Precipitation which may be somewhat limited but will fall as all snow in this period and will fall as a result of clipper systems and other TIS enhancers. Winter is certainly not over and next weekend will prove it.

Monday, March 10, 2008

NAO on its way down and we hope for results sooner as opposed to later

Some help does arrive Wednesday in the form of a classic Alberta Clipper which will dive southeast into interior New England. Clouds from the system arrive Tuesday night and snow should begin to fall just before dawn Wednesday. This system is limited in its supply of moisture but we will do our best at MRG with an inch or so by first tracks time an an additional few inches during the ski day. I might add that we will get some help Wednesday by TIS and will thus allow accumulations in the mountains to be higher than the dusting to an inch that is likely to fall in Burlington.

Questions remain for the weekend

We will see a gradual erosion of the cold air as we progress into the late part of the week. The trend toward milder temperatures will precede the approach of a more significant storm system. The events surrounding the storm will get kicked off with a bit of wet snow on Friday which may turn to some rain early Saturday. At this point however we hope the NAO begins to intercede on our behalf. A negative NAO can act as an effective mechanism for deflecting systems to the New England coast and thus allowing the would-be rain event to become snow. Since most of the cold air associated with the weekend system sits behind the storm in the Midwest we will have to hope that the storm pulls the cold into Vermont while the system intensifies as it interacts with the Atlantic Coast. This would result in a change to snow on Saturday and some accumulations both during the day and at night. Models have been hinting at such an occurrence sporadically but have yet to provide any definitive answers. Lets just say this could go either way.

Another system, another chance - the active weather continues

A repeat performance appears to be the setup for the middle part of next week and let me just say there is no rest for the weary on the SCWB. Very incredible the active weather which has prevailed which includes one system after another and all with varying impacts on the mountain. That is the best excuse I have for some of the wrong turns I have made in the forecasting game. In the case of next week, there remains much in the way of potential but with most of the cold air to the west of the system we will need a track close to or off the coast. I put a lot of faith in the NAO in terms of its ability to scratch out a few victories for us and it will have another chance to do just that during the middle of next week.

Friday, March 7, 2008

The board is set for the weekend...

and it does not appear as if the storm will track far enough to the east for an all snow event. Precipitation may begin as a bit of snow Friday evening before going over to a sleet/freezing rain mixture overnight. This is a very powerful storm although appears that it will occlude before reaching interior New England. This means that the very warm temperatures will get pinched off well to the south and temperatures will be limited to within a few degrees of freezing Saturday. There will be nasty squall line which will include some heavy precipitation and even thunderstorms. I think this will begin impacting Vermont late in the day Saturday as either rain and/or rain and some sleet. At around midnight on Sunday, we will finally get the necessary cold weather to turn it all to snow. The snow should be of the steady variety for a while and then become more sporadic in intensity during the day Sunday. As damp as Saturday could be, Sunday can still be powdery and my very rough guess has the mountain getting 4-8 inches between midnight Sunday and the evening. This will be accompanied by the wind and sub-20 degree temperatures that I had mentioned in the last post.

So to summarize, no significant new snow for Saturday and we will instead get a sleet/freezing rain mixture that will eventually become a rain/sleet mixture. The precipitation will be heavy late in the day.

Sunday features some fresh powder to ski in and snow showers for a good chunk of the day. Obviously much will depend on the amount of powder we get Sunday as it relates to the quality of the skiing. That rough guess of 4-8 inches is what it is "rough".

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Major jet phasing for the weekend but the news isn't all good

If you can remember back to your days in Physics class (or for some of you that may still be yet to come), recall the lesson on interacting waves and the meaning of destructive and constructive interference. When jet phasing is mentioned in the blog the analogy is most appropriate and it refers particularly to the constructive interference part. Jet phasing is often times very exciting to us skiers as talk of a big storm is often a big part of the discussion. The jet phase this weekend is certainly no exception as the amplification this weekend will spawn the rapid development of a low pressure system along the Gulf Coast. This storm system will be a big and in some cases violent weather producer as I fully expect a major severe weather outbreak in portions of the southeast including damaging tornadoes.

The storm and its possibilities

By the time this storm begins impacting northern Vermont it will quite a beast but size is not everything, we still need a somewhat favorable track and an adequate supply of cold air. In this case both leave something to be desired. Model guidance, with the exception of the Canadian model seems convinced that the center of the storm will take dead aim at interior New England. Meanwhile, the cold weather continues its 2007-2008 Midwest bias and is not where we need it to be while precipitation is the heaviest. In spite of all this, it will not take a major shift in the track to greatly improve the outcome. If the current consensus has the the storm tracking from Harrisburg, PA to Fryeburg, ME and the ideal track would have the storm tracking from Atlantic City, NJ to Boston, MA then we are not talking about a great distance. A shift of less than 200 miles to the east would in fact make all the difference.

More specifically
So now to the specifics which are of course contingent on some of the above lingering questions. Thursday and Friday at MRG will both consist of some pleasant afternoon skiing as temperatures warm to well above freezing along with light winds. Clouds will be on the increase late on Friday and precipitation will arrive late on Friday evening. If the storm were to follow its current indicated course then any initial snow would change to a sleet/freezing rain mixture during the overnight and to plain rain or drizzle by first tracks time Saturday. The precipitation on Saturday would be showery in nature and could include a clap of thunder as the front associated with this powerful storm nears MRG. A storm track more to the east would include more snow of course and much less of what was detailed above. Even the more adverse track however would include the eventual invasion of much colder temperatures and a significant period of wrap-around precipitation. Would it be enough to turn Sunday into a powder day even if we crap-out on Saturday ? Absolutely yes although Sunday will be quite blustery and as I mentioned much colder (temps in the teens).

Long range notes
A clipper system of uncertain significance will be the next weather item of note during the middle of next week and this will be followed by milder weather and perhaps another non-snow precipitation producer around the time of March 15th. With that said the long range is starting to take on a different look as for the first time this season we are seeing indications of what could turn out to be a major block over Greenland. Such a feature could be the catalyst for a big finish to the end of March and easily could push the seasonal snow total to over 300 inches. And yes I am aware that there are those mocking the seasonal forecast of 200 inches and would prefer to revert back to the farmers almanac which is fine with me btw. Just remember that I have said many times that the seasonal outlooks are about 55 to 60 percent accurate which means rolling the dice is almost as good (this is pretty much what is done at the farmers almanac).

Sunday, March 2, 2008

Big time icing a real possibility Wednesday

And I know a lot of us in Vermont eye the first Tuesday in March as not only a way to honor the great tradition of Town Meeting Day but to also sneak out to MRG and enjoy a powder day. If memory serves, the last few Town Meeting Tuesday's have been of the powdery variety and it brings out the crowds. The one exception would be last year where it was -20 all day which proves to be a bit rough for even the most hardiest of us skiers. Give credit to Ben Hewitt however who did the great feature on the coop in Ski Magazine and was willing to make a few turns with me on that very cold day last year. This year will be quite different and certainly not powdery. After a cold start to the day Monday, temperatures will warm dramatically and should be several degrees above freezing during the afternoon. Tomorrow could be a great spring skiing afternoon so long as the area of clouds and even mixed precipitation which could prevail in the morning, move away during the afternoon. This is my expectation anyway and the morning clouds (and possible precipitation) should give way to sunshine which should fuel the snow softening.

Town Meeting Tuesday

The problem with Tuesday is not the mild weather but rather the rain which should begin falling in the early morning and continue through the early portion of the ski day. If we can somehow dodge the rain, which seems very unlikely right now, we would have an additional day of good spring skiing but at this point it is fair to expect at least a quarter of an inch of rain followed by a period of dry weather beginning in the afternoon.

Icing on Wednesday ?
The period of active weather continues into Wednesday as a moist system approaches from the Gulf States. I had mentioned in the previous post that we are in desperate need of some cold air to inject itself into this system. There is a minimal amount of arctic cold in interior Quebec and it will make a low level push southward late on Tuesday. As this is happening however, we will see conditions in some critical mid-layers of the troposphere warm. The set-up is thus very good for some significant icing on Wednesday. Precipitation will begin, perhaps as a little snow or sleet, very early in the day Wednesday and continue into the early afternoon mostly in the form of freezing rain.

The weekend of the 8th ad 9th

The pattern does take a turn for the more favorable later in the week in response to a deepening eastern U.S. trough. This turn however appears more gradual as opposed to abrupt and it may take a few days before we see new natural snow. There are series of impulses within this trough and the passage of each of these will bring colder weather to the region. The first such "post ice-storm event" arrives Thursday and precipitation from that will be of the rain or wet snow shower variety. Colder weather Friday and the arrival of yet another disturbance should at that point bring some snow although its difficult to envision amounts. Additional TIS type snow is possible Friday night into early Saturday and with the colder weather in place, it could set us up for a decent day of skiing.

Long Range
The ridge west/trough east regime should get one more re-enforcement early next week which offers the possibility of some additional new snow. The teleconnection indices are not favorable however and with no mechanism in place to keep existing cold in place or force new cold weather southward, we should see a trend toward significantly milder weather by the end of next week. Any system toward the middle or end of next week could still bring snow but it might be asking a lot to say that it looks good for powder since the snow could be wet in nature.

Friday, February 29, 2008

More powder for Saturday

Next week however is next week. Saturday is Saturday. The clipper responsible has more moisture at its disposal than most systems of its kind and it will strengthen considerably once it begins interacting with the Atlantic Coast. Precipitation will arrive around 7 or 8 pm Friday evening and will fall at a moderate clip for a good portion of the night. There is no doubt this snow will be powder in character and by first tracks time Saturday I think we have 4-8 inches for our skiing pleasure. Additional light snow Saturday morning is capable of bringing an additional inch or two before snow tapers off and skies clear. The warm late February sun will warm temperatures to near 30 at the base in spite of blustery conditions. Sunday's temps will be similar with less wind. If there is a snow softening, it will only be for a very brief time during the afternoon and only at the base.

Adversity strikes again early next week

Only in New England is it possible to get temperatures in the single numbers followed by rain within 24 hours. There are other regions of the world where this happens but its a regular occurrence in Vermont and is likely again Monday into Tuesday. The early March trouble spot has been documented on the SCWB and it results from the re-energized Pacific which will re-center the snow in the interior west albeit temporarily.

There are two systems in play here. The first takes an awful track deep into Canada although thankfully it lacks moisture and precipitation should be limited to a few showers Tuesday morning. The second system takes direct aim at us and arrives from the Gulf of Moisture with lots of moisture to work with. We desperately need some cold air to get involved though model guidance seems quite cynical on that idea. I think it would be pre-mature to write-off the system completely at this point since we have seen some 11th hour rescue efforts like the one we had in early February. A subsequent update will have the details all ironed out and maybe at that point I will have better news.

Better news for the weekend of the 8th/9th

The teleconnection indices aren't exactly lined up for glory later next week but we will see a western ridge build very quickly which will prove to be enough for a favorable outcome beginning March 6th. The pattern appears most amplified around the time of March 7th and March 8th which corresponds to the time when we have our best chance for more snow either from an organized weather system or instability/TIS. The ridge west/trough east regime appears to be a 4-5 day event which would stretch to March 10th. Without greater support from some of the more underlying fundamentals such as the AO or NAO I would not count on it continuing indefinitely.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

18-30 inches by Thursday morning still applies

And the snow will begin within a few hours of noon on Tuesday. For several hours, it will be of the light variety and quite possibly the wet variety at the base of the mountain as temperatures hover a few degrees below freezing. It gets interesting with the onset of darkness Tuesday as a very impressive and intense area of vertical motion envelops all of northern Vermont. The snow will intensify dramatically and much of the accumulating snow from this system will fall in an 8-hour window prior to Wednesday morning. By first tracks time Wednesday, I expect 12-18 inches of powder to play in with temperatures in the middle to upper 20's.

The snow will slacken in intensity as temperatures cool throughout the day Wednesday but will not taper off completely and should continue into Wednesday night. Atmospheric profiles during the day do not reveal an unstable environment necessarily Wednesday but they do reveal very moist conditions stretching well up into the troposphere. Even a minimal amount of atmospheric lift combined with the little help from the Green Mountains should provide for a light but steady snowfall for an extended period of time. Enough for the additional 6-12 necessary to get the snowfall into the predicted range. Most importantly, the snow should be enough to provide for another powder day Thursday. If your thinking about wind, it will pick up in intensity late Wednesday and conditions will be quite blustery throughout the day Thursday. If your thinking about temperatures, readings will drop through the 20's Wednesday and will be closer to 10 on Thursday.

The leap year Alberta Clipper is also still in line to deliver for the weekend. Snow from this should arrive Friday evening and provide at least a few inches of powder for the ski day Saturday. It looks like we got some of the best skiing of the year over the next 5 days and there is no better place to enjoy it than MRG.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Here we go !!! Big mid-week dump is now in the making !!!!

And after another in a long lists of February 2008 busts late last week it will be good to focus on the next few days. Hey, I have taken so many different positions on the pattern and some of the storm systems within the pattern that I am worse than a politician. Like every good forecaster though, I can always claim victory since if you say enough different things at enough different times then you are bound to be right about something. I am thinking specifically of another famed forecaster that operates in the private in the sector (who will remain nameless), but proves that it gets worse when meteorologists go corporate on us. In my case, at least I put on the brave face and admit the inherent deficiencies of forecasting. All kidding aside, this has been a somewhat trying year on the weather front and particularly on the long range front. It is also quite a contrast to last year when the season was split in half between the unfavorable start and the favorable finish.

Winter storm bash
Once again, after a somewhat challenging week for MRG, we do a 180 and prepare for an epic week as the pattern amplifies once again only this time the ampflication will have us rock'n in the free world (credit - Neil Young) rather than flooded at the basebox (don't believe there is a song written for that thank god). Flurries could start Monday as the mountain sits just to the south of a sharp arctic boundary situated over Quebec. Some of this cold over the eastern Canadian provinces will play an instrumental roll in this upcoming storm as it will become entrained into the intensifying system during the middle of the week. This exciting looking storm system will make its exit from the southern Rockies Monday and will take a path up the Ohio Valley Tuesday. As opposed to last week, this system will take a more eastward trajectory as the pattern amplification proceeds. The storm will therefore make good use the Atlantic Coast and will deliver a major winter storm to all of interior New England as it continues to intensify northeast of Cape Cod.

The details including the possibility of 3 powder days
I would not be surprised to see a small accumulation of snow early Tuesday but the snow will begin in earnest during the day. Temperatures will not be especially chilly during the ski day and the snow will be of the wet variety at some of the lower elevations. As the evening progresses the snow will intensify and temperatures will begin to cool. The big question concerns the position of the moist conveyor. Although the storm will take a favorable track, MRG is positioned at the southern edge of the zone of heaviest snow and a dry slot is likely to envelop southern areas of the state during the night. This is the biggest uncertainty at this point and if we can assume the "no dry slot" solution then we are in line for an additional foot of powder by dawn on Wednesday. Even a dry slot however won't prevent a powder day on Wednesday. It also won't prevent wrap-around and terrain-enhanced snowfall which will continue through Wednesday into Wednesday night and make for another powder day Thursday. I think it is fair to say that a 3-powder day week is epic and is also quite achievable this week particularly if we can get some accumulating snow early enough in the day Tuesday. As for accumulations this is the preliminary guess.

By Tuesday morning: Around an inch
By Tuesday evening: 2- 4 inches
By Wednesday first tracks: 8-14 inches
By Wednesday evening: 5-10 inches
By Thursday first tracks: 2-4 inches

This makes for a storm total of 18-30 inches.

More snow for the weekend ? You know it !!
We will have some colder weather and wind to deal with late in the ski day Wednesday and into Thursday including well below zero wind chill values. The window of dry weather which will begin later Thursday will be a brief one however as a weaker clipper-like system dives into the Great Lakes Friday. The track of this system is still somewhat up in the air but precipitation-type will remain snow and the only question involves how much between Friday night and Saturday. This will be followed by a quick re-enforcing shot of arctic chill which will dominate through the duration of the weekend.

Long Range
A few days ago I had mentioned the possibilities of some challenges for early March which results from the re-strengthening of the jet in the Pacific. This remains the case and both milder weather and non-snow/non frozen precipitation are possible early next week. The most consistent thing about this winter has been its inconsistency and the ensembles do show that even the re-strengthening of the jet in the Pacific will be a temporary feature and may give way to something better late in the week.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Friday's system hits the upright and deflects right so we look to next week for help

This has been a rough week for MRG and a rough couple of weeks for the yours truly in terms of getting an handle on some of the madness. I had originally expected much better things from Monday's washout and was very optimistic about the TIS for Tuesday and Wednesday. We did get some but most of the action was to the south as resorts in Pennsylvania and West Virginia picked up several inches. Don't bother getting jealous though, those guys have had it very rough this winter in a region where La Nina is typically very unforgiving. I expect to see a few inches of the fresh stuff blown around the mountain Thursday but it will be a chilly and blustery day with temperatures struggling to reach the teens. We should see some clouds on Friday but the accmulating snow will be confined the the big metros like New York and Boston as the storm system responsible will fail to make any real northward progression. This storm appears as if it will remain a disorganized and broken entity but if one of the two significant pieces becomes more organized it could spread some snow in to northern Vermont even as late as Saturday. My advice though is to keep your expectations low since model guidance seems convinced across the board that this one goes wide right.

Weekend breakdown
The chance for any light snow diminishes as Saturday progresses but it does remain cold with temps in the low 20's. Sunday morning will be quite cold with temperatures below zero in the morning but warming to as high as 30 at the base during the afternoon with minimal winds. A few inches of snow Wednesday night and then an inch or two more Friday or Saturday would do wonders for what appears to be a pleasant weather weekend to be out though that projection is optimistic.

Time to focus on next week and its potential
The weekend cold modifies on Monday and the higher February sun could soften things up a bit Monday afternoon. Arctic cold will remain over central and northern Quebec and there is some serious disagreement on whether or not that gets into the mix during the middle of the week. This is a vital question as it looks like we are in line for another close call from the upcoming pattern amplification on Tuesday/Wednesday. This gets a bit technical but some of the forecast upper air charts look favorable late on Tuesday because they suggest that arctic air could envelop the interior New England prior to the approach of a developing storm system. At face value the medium range models are in their various camps saying many things as far as outcomes go. The consensus of information suggests that the storm, which will crank itself up across the central Plains, will take a less than desirable track but with enough cold air we could turn the argumentative into something very good. Terrain induced snow late Wednesday and Thursday could add to the potential good fortune. There is a long way to go and many bridges to cross before a verdict is reached as always.

Early March ???

What is more discouraging right now is early March. La Nina has been such a nuisance in the Pacific and it looks to be at it again by the first weekend of March. We are seeing a weakening of this pesky jet stream right now and it justifies some serious positive vibes for next week. By the first of the month the energy in the Pacific appears to re-consolidate and thus present more challenges for us going forward. In addition is the Arctic Oscillation. We fought so hard to get this index into the negatory but the expectation now is for the AO to go strongly positive again by late next week. Wish I had better news but it is what it is. Fortunately, the long range has been highly unpredictable this year with weeks with bad appearances turning out good and vice versa.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Flooding at the basebox ?? That is quite enough of that !!

Hopefully the staff can pull some heroics and rectify that situation quickly. In the meantime things are looking up as conditions in the lower part of our troposphere destabilize in the cooling air. The weather service has a 40 percent chance of snow showers in the forecast but for Tuesday and Wednesday it will be a question where you are in Vermont's undulating terrain. MRG of course sits in the 1800 to 3800 foot zone in the cross section of Vermont which will prove quite advantageous. Flurries should evolve into heavier snow showers on Tuesday. Subsequent to that will be the arrival of an arctic boundary, a reinforcing shot of arctic cold and more snow showers for Wednesday. It is very difficult to say how much snow the mountain can accumulate in the 48 hours ending Thursday morning but I will venture to say 5-10. Cities like Burlington or St Johnsbury are likely to see less than an inch. The best chance to catch the fresh powder still appears to be Wednesday morning following a likely couple of inches late Tuesday and Tuesday night. Thursday will be the coldest day of the week with temperatures below zero in the morning and struggling to warm to 10 during the afternoon.

So its on to Friday and another forecast challenge as subtropical moisture works itself into the cold airmass. This appears to be a classic overrunning front-runner and one that is capable of treating New England quite well. As for MRG it is a question of track, track and more track. The developing low has been forecast by the models to track anywhere from over the Adirondacks to over southern New Jersey and thus the results are still up for debate. A consensus of indications is for some snow during the day on Friday (a few inches worth anyway) and a potential powder day for Saturday but the range of possibilities includes everything from dry weather on Friday/Friday night to a snow to sleet outcome. We should see below normal temperatures linger on Saturday before readings moderate Sunday .

I am still somewhat encouraged by the early to middle part of next week but it appears as if another major jet amplification will put a big stamp on the Monday to Wednesday time frame. Ultimately, I think that new snow will be the result during the middle part of next week but a more organized system during the early part of the week could be seen as a friend or foe depending on the track it decides to take. Stay tuned on this one because we could see anything from a repeat of this past Monday to a bit tiem powder producer.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Next shot of powder comes during the middle of next week

Though we came out of Friday quite well off thanks to the squalls associated with the passing arctic boundary. We also came out of Friday quite cold but as us veterans of New England weather already know, cold weather doesn't guarantee you anything as far as getting all snow out of the next weather system. I can in fact remember a storm in the late 90's where temperatures plummated to -30 F in a few places only to rise 65 degrees in less than 36 hours as snow changed to a heartbreaking rain. This is not the kind of New England weather drama that pushes my buttons but we will have to deal with it unfortunately as our President's Day system is set to track from near Corpus Christi Texas to Flint Michigan. The coastal redevelopment of this low pressure center does not appear as it will happen either and as a result, any snow on Sunday evening will change to freezing rain and ultimately rain early Monday morning. Temperatures will climb to as high as 40 during the day Monday and southerly winds will do some damage to the base. Precipitation will then end later Monday and sinking motion in the immediate wake of the storm will probably keep MRG snow-free Monday night.

Wednesday & Thursday have promise
That gets us through the hard part and although Tuesday does not look like a powder day, the white stuff should be in the air by the afternoon. As discussed in the last update, the pattern amplification allows for a pocket of instability which should begin impacting the mountain later Tuesday. The result will be TIS and the snow showers should accumulate to at least a few inches by Wednesday morning. Even more encouraging is the appraoching disturbance or clipper system later Wednesday which could enhance the snow and provide additional accumulations for the mountain by Thursday. So as bad as Monday appears, we still could be in line for back to back powder days on Wednesday and Thursday if everything goes according to my idealogical plan.

Next Weekend and beyond
Along with some fresh powder, Thursday will also bring another reinforcing shot of arctic cold thus making it the coldest day of the week. And as if on cue, another mild push of air will arrive on its heels as a storm system in the plains moves northeast. The track of this next organized system is still somewhat uncertain but it apppears as if some snow can be provided during the day on Friday. The outcome later Friday and into the weekend still needs to be sorted out over the next few days. We could just be optimists and say the weekend has potential but the pattern next weekend will consist of a trough in the western states and a ridge in the east which means we are already facing a stiff headwind. After the weekend, the pattern still appears to take a turn for the much better thanks largely to the indications of several different areas of high latitude blocking and a potential splitting of our pesky Pacific Jet Stream.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

A shift in expectations for Presidents Day

All the significant news relates to Monday's storm and until then there are no significant changes to report. An arctic boundary arrives during the middle of the day tomorrow and there is a weak weather system which is associated with this front that passes to the north. Mad River will not receive much in the way of moisture from this storm but snow showers late on Friday could dust the mountain with upwards of an inch or two. Very cold weather then arrives on northwest winds on Friday night. Winds will gradually diminish by later in the day Saturday but temperatures will struggle to get past zero on the mountain. Sunday will be more comfortable with temperatures reaching the 20's and light winds as sunshine in the morning yields to a high overcast.

President's Day

The news for Monday isn't good. As expected, the pattern will become highly amplified with a ridge in the jet stream stretching from the West Coast up through the Yukon and a developing trough in the middle of the country. Highly amplified patterns however are good for some and bad for others and although it is quite typical that the amplifications are favorable for east coast locations it isn't always the case. As for Monday, the ridge/trough axis will develop too far to the west and will thus force this once promising looking storm system to track from the Gulf of Mexico, west of the Appalachian Mountains and into the Great Lakes. In terms of actual weather, this translates to snow late on Sunday which quickly changes to sleet and then freezing rain and possibly rain for Monday. One thing that is rather surprising or alarming to me about this situation is that models are currently suggesting nothing in the way of coastal redevelopment. Northward progressing warm air is often nipped in the bud but such an occurrence and we did see indications of this a few days ago but much less so now. I am holding out hope because an unabated move toward milder temperatures in storm systems such as these is the exception rather than the norm. At the very least however, snow or ice is going to be difficult to avoid on Monday and the possibility of rain does exist.

We are set up better for Tuesday as the low pressure center responsible for our potentially difficult situation on Monday strengthens over Quebec leaving a pool of much colder and unstable air in its wake across both New York and New England. We should see snow showers throughout the day as a result and although it is quite uncertain as to amounts, at least some accumulations are possible. A weak clipper system on Wednesday may also bring some additional lighter snows to northern Vermont and this will be followed by colder temperatures again on Thursday.

Long Range
The southeast ridge shows life again toward the weekend of the 23rd and 24th and will mean a northward push of mild temperatures. I know it doesn't sound thrilling but the warm advection associated with this push may mean some additional snow for Friday and it remains to be seen whether the mild weather will ever gain a foothold in Northern New England during the weekend. Toward the end of the month the ensembles are showing much more in the way of blocking at high latitudes and action in the mid-latitudes but its difficult at to pinpoint exactly when such a trend would translate into actual results for the mountain and it might not be until after the 24th.