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Friday, January 25, 2008

Snow/cold head west leaving us with plenty of problems

Let me preface the update by saying that although the news isn't good we will be better served getting next week out of our system before the President's Day Holiday. This is a bad analogy but its kind of like a bad case of food poisoning since the quicker you can get your body to purge itself the better off you will be. We are still safe for the weekend although our prospects for new snow are not what they once were. There is enough remaining instability for more flurries and an occasional burst of snow on Friday. This could leave some additional new snow prior to the weekend of a few inches but unfortunately that is probably it. There is a clipper system passing through the Great Lakes Friday but this will transfer its energy way off the coast over the weekend. The storm will strengthen significantly but this will effectively concentrate the moisture offshore and leave us in a more stable mode of sinking motion. The weather itself will be quite decent actually with minimal wind and high temperatures in the low 20's on Saturday and upper 20's on Sunday.

The mild weather and the cause
We hinted at trouble in the last post for next week and today's round of model data has a much worse outcome for us northeastern skiing enthusiasts. Its a very meridional pattern which typically is a good thing but when the mean trough is so concentrated
across western North America it is far from good. The culprit is a high latitude block which simply will develop too far west, like over the Aleutian Islands of Alaska. 20 degrees longitude farther east and the result is solid gold but we can't win them all (especially when La Nina rages). Cold and snow will therefore be all over the west (particularly the Pacific Northwest) and mild air will make a big surge northward on Tuesday and will reach northern Vermont. Even more unfortunate is that the mild air precedes rain which is likely to arrive Tuesday Evening perhaps persisting into Wednesday morning. Temperatures prior to or during the rain event could climb to as high as 50 but it isn't set in stone and we will need a subsequent update to iron out these ugly details.

Late next week
The latest and greatest round of medium range model data does show that some of the arctic air across the west making the long trek eastward and impacting New England in the wake of the wet weather by Wednesday. The pattern however lives to fight another day with the mean trough remaining in the west and thus leaving the door open for the next storm system (late in the week) to take another unfavorable track. With fresh arctic air on the playing field, even an unfavorable track could mean a different end-result when compared with Tuesday's storm. In other words, we do have a shot at some accumulating snow late next week but there is also a risk that any precipitation changes to a period of ice or rain before ending. If you have to choose between weekends and are using the blog for advice then I would suggest this weekend as opposed to next.

If we advance further in time into the first full week of February, there are indications that unsettled weather over Alaska will clash with that dreaded mid-latitude Pacific Ocean ridge. This type of situation is a La Nina by-product and results in a Pacific Jet that is strong and is also often quite a nuisance to us at MRG. At the very least, I am hoping for a variable result but to ask for sustained snow and cold for the first 10 days of February is asking a lot at this time.

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