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Thursday, January 31, 2008

Friday's storm system and some early details on next week

The National Weather Service is not quite doing justice to the specifics of Friday's system in my humble opinion. The forecast says snow followed by snow and sleet Friday evening and a total of 3-7 inches. Drilling deeper into the bank of information available yields better details and they are as follows. Any precipitation at MRG that falls before 2 PM or prior to the ending of the ski day will be in the form of snow. Models suggest that precipitation will fail to arrive until around noon so the window of time for snow on Friday is brief. This obviously means that the earlier arrival of precipitation favors more snow at MRG. Once we get to 2PM, precipitation changes to a mix of sleet and freezing rain. Model cross sections are showing a layer of warmth that is simply too deep to support any snow after around 2 PM and thus the NWS forecast is somewhat misleading. Temperatures may eventually climb to above freezing levels at the surface briefly Saturday morning but should fall back to freezing or slightly below by mid-morning. Along with the slight drop in temperatures comes the return of snowfall which will be of the more wet variety at the base of MRG and more powdery at the summit. Accumulations will be light and amount to anywhere from a trace to a few inches.

New snow is likely for Tuesday morning but Wednesday looks like a wash

Temperatures will be colder on Sunday and a weak disturbance will encourage the continuation of flurries and even a few snow showers. Accumulations from this could amount to another inch or so but I am not expecting anything significant. As it turns out, it could be Tuesday which turns into the steal of the week as a storm system exits the Rockies in two pieces. The second and stronger piece is nothing but bad news as it will bring a huge push of mild weather and ultimately some rain on Wednesday. The first system however arrives late on Monday and brings some moisture into the cold weather which will be temporarily entrenched over Vermont. The result is the possibility for a prolonged period of light snow beginning late Monday and persisting into early Tuesday. It may indeed be enough to turn Tuesday into a powder day (3-6 inch variety) at least initially. Tuesday will remain cloudy and this will help keep temperatures below freezing for a time but the mild air will make its northward push into Vermont Tuesday night setting the stage for a Wednesday washout.

Weekend of the 9th and 10th appears more promising

In spite of all the sleet, freezing rain and rain, there is some good news for the weekend of the 9th and 10th. Both ensembles show strong indications of a temporary east coast trough amplification. Too early for details but I place my bets on colder weather and some new snow to go along with it. A subsequent update will give us the chance to go into more details regarding the situation next weekend. Until then, wear your goggles because the sleet is not friendly on the face.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Friday system will bring some snow but mostly sleet to MRG

Wednesday's rain (and wind) falls in front of a very strong cold front which is moving swiftly eastward. The front marks the edge of what is a weakening but still very strong arctic airmass which caused temperatures to approach record levels in parts of the Canadian prairies over the past few mornings. The cold is advancing eastward fast enough to actually undercut the area of precipitation and thus the front becomes "anafrontal" in nature. This essentially means that rain on Wednesday morning will turn to a period of sleet/snow during the later in the day before ending. A small accumulation of new snow can be expected before first tracks time Thursday but the day itself will simply be dry and cold with temperatures in the teens.

Friday's nitty gritty
The weather map would have us believe some promising things about our Friday system. The storm will eject itself out of the southern Rockies and entrain some serious juice from the Gulf of Mexico before making the left turn and heading northeast. Unfortunately for us the storm will be moving more north than east and will reach the eastern Great Lakes by Friday evening. The existing cold will try and wedge itself over New England and this will work as an effective defense against the push of mild weather during much of the event. Above freezing temperatures will reach some critical areas aloft and will prevent the event from being of the all-snow variety. The details, as best as I can see them, are as follows. Precipitation will begin in the form of snow during the late morning or early afternoon Friday and could become heavy enough to accumulate a few inches before changing to sleet during the afternoon. I do think that the bulk of the precipitation from this system falls as sleet with temperatures holding in the upper 20's through the evening. As precipitation ends late Friday there may be a period of a few hours where temperatures climb to above freezing levels before the colder weather returns by Saturday morning. With the return of the colder weather comes a brief period of instability and some snow. The skiing on Saturday will obviously depend heavily on how much snow falls over the sleet prior to first tracks time. It does not look as if it will be a big accumulation but 4 inches (the high end of the possibility range) would go a long way to saving Saturday.

Some new snow is possible for Sunday but early next week is still ominous
The two big medium range computer models diverge from Sunday forward. There is some loose agreement on the grand scheme but it is the details which remain up for grabs. The European model on Sunday does suggest that we get an impact from a passing clipper system and possibly a few inches of powder while the American model says its flurries only. Models also disagree with the exact handling of early next week although both suggest a warm-up and yet another non-snow and possibly a rain event. Without getting too bogged down in details (because the model disagreement makes them messy) Monday appears to be the day least likely to get an impact from the non-snow precipitation while Tuesday and Wednesday look especially dicey. One of those days could in fact turn extremely mild.

Long Range
Loyal readers of the blog are aware of the value I place in the Arctic Oscillation and its impact on the weather not only at MRG but all across the United States. The Arctic Oscillation is the easiest index to predict and the simplest way to measure high latitude blocking in the jet stream. With that said, we are getting zero help as the index is expected oscillate around +1 for the next 14 days. Part of the AO equation and perhaps the worst part is the Pacific Ocean happenings and they include that mid-latitude ridge the high latitude troughiness and the fast and furious jet which will continue to pound the Pacific Northwest. We desperately need this to break down even partially and the best way we can get this to happen would be the formation of a block in one of the key regions of western Canada or Greenland. We can still score sporadic victories but we are looking for a few weeks and at this point we need to hope that begins by Valentines Day because the current pattern is now expected to continue until at least February 10th.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

La Nina rears its very ugly head and takes out some anger on east coast skiing

Honestly, I delayed the update in hopes that things might appear better for the upcoming 10 days but face the music we must and get through it we must. We have a lot of things conspiring against us and although the weekend turned out quite good, it was Cape Cod which ended up feasting on that coastal storm which I had hoped would provide for more signifcant powder on at least one of the two weekend days. I took that as having had our nose rubbed in you know what. So the dirty fundamentals consist of a weakening high latitude block in the jet stream over the Aleutian Islands of Alaska which put the trough and all of the arctic and ultimately much of the snow across the western half of the nation. Once the block is gone we will be left with a very broad almost dome-like ridge over the mid-latitude Pacific while the pattern remains extremely unsettled across the Pacific Northwest, Alaska and the Yukon Territories. La Nina has its footprints all over this and we are going to get quite stomped on over the next 10 days with upwards of 3 events that will include precipitation other than snow.

Wednesday's rain event
Little if any snow can be expected Monday and Tuesday but the good news is that the approaching storm will not have a Vermont impact until Wednesday and believe me the way this sucker is tracking we want nothing to do with it for as long as possible. Monday and Tuesday should be quite comfortable from a temperature and wind standpoint We could get some freezing drizzle Tuesday night but precipitation from Wednesday storm should come in one very short but rainy chunk early Wednesday. Its should only total about two tenths of an inch and temperatures may only make it into the low 40's and for only a brief period time before colder weather makes an abrupt return Wednesday night. This incoming airmass does have arctic origins and is the remnants of what is currently some bone-chilling cold over Montana. I had hoped and am still hoping that a period of instability in the wake of Wednesday's storm would allow for some TIS for first tracks time Thursday but I am not optimistic. At the very least, it will be cold, below normal in fact, and this cold will be needed to fight some of the demons that the next system is set to bring Friday.

If all goes well Friday we still could save the weekend

It would be a mistake Friday to write the storm off too early. With arctic air on the playing field there is always hope and even as is I don't think the push of mild air will be strong enough to change precipitation to plain rain. Given the pattern though and the consensus of model data showing the track of the storm through Lake Huron and northeast from there it is accurate to say that we face some serious obstacles. In the end, I think it will be a moral victory of sorts if we can keep the precipitation in the form of snow or sleet and avoid the freezing rain or rain. This is very possible; in fact, precpitation is likely to start as snow and may accumulate a few inches before going to sleet for a time and then back to snow. This would mean that the glass-half-full outlook consists of a semi-powder day Friday (morning only). Another part of the glass-half-full outlook includes some TIS for Friday night and early Saturday thus saving the weekend. The glass-half-empty outlook includes the freezing rain and all the ramifications/consequences of it and there is no need to go into details.

Long Range

Without a fundamental shift in the prevailing pattern, and there is no reason to expect one through as late as February 9th, it would be wise to keep expectations in check. Furthermore, the system which may threaten to bring precipitation to much of the east coast early next week has trouble written all over it. In addition to all the problems cited in the opening paragraph, the AO (Arctic Oscillation) has made another serious run into positive territory which would indicate that Arctic air is going to want to retreat to the poles rather than impact the mid-latitudes. Needless to say it doesn't appear promising but stay tuned and we will see how this plays out over the next few days.

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.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

MRG is always super but this year so are my Giants !!!

I am one inspired weathergeek after watching my beloved New York Giants prevail in such adverse conditions at Green Bay over the weekend. I got a bit excited Sunday night and was not in good shape to do a weather update and thus it was delayed by a day. I know that many of the Mad River faithful pledge an allegiance to either the Pats or the Giants and in the case of 2008 the two will square off in what should be a great match up (and rematch) and one I am very much looking forward to. Tom Brady has haunted me since his days at Michigan and is poised to do so again but I believe this Giant team has too much moxie to go quietly into the Arizona night so I expect a good game.

Recommendation of the week: Wednesday is a winner
And now back to the weather. There is a rather well-defined area of snow across the Midwest as of Tuesday morning in association with a weak area of low pressure in the Great Lakes. This area of precipitation will push eastward and reach interior New England but not until Tuesday night. We won't see heavy amounts of snow by first tracks time Wednesday but atmospheric cross sections Wednesday reveal instability up to almost 8,000 feet into the atmosphere throughout much of the day after the passage of this system. This isn't enough for epic TIS snowfall but enough I think for periodic snow showers of an accumulating variety. This means Wednesday is a powderey sort of day and worth a trip to MRG even if your house is bright and sunny Wednesday morning. In terms of numbers I expect a few inches (2 or 3) by first tracks time Wednesday and 2-5 inches depending on elevation during the day on Wednesday.

Snow flurries and snow showers may even continue into Wednesday night before conditions in the lower atmosphere stabilize Thursday thanks largely to the return of arctic air (although very light snow may continue through Thursday). Temperatures on the mountain Thursday will be stuck near 10 and this will be accompanied by wind. Friday's temps will struggle to reach the teens and some flurries are again possible in the morning.

Weekend breakdown
New snow is very unlikely Friday night into Saturday though comfortable temps and good visibility should make for a decent morning. By the afternoon clouds will thicken and there is a very good chance for some snow. Models are in divided camps regarding thsi system but the trusty European model suggests this to be a clipper turned coastal event which means new snow late Saturday, Saturday night and into Sunday morning. Even the most optimistic forecast would have limit snowfall accumulations to 6 inches or less but I am an optimistic forecaster (maybe its the NY Giants in the superbowl) and I like our prospects for first tracks powder on Sunday.

Next and into February
I am not overflowing with optimism next week unfortunately. The next high latitude block in the jet stream will form (albeit briefly) over the Aleutian Islands of Alaska. This means the position of the mean trough will shift west as will the arctic air next week. A push of milder temperatures is therefore likely next week and although there are no indications of an outbreak of record warmth, the next system in the middle of the week has 50/50 chance of bringing precipitation other than snow to the mountain. The end of the week marks the beginning of the month of February and the indication based on the ensembles is that we are back to the pattern of late December featuring the active Pacific Jet and inconsistent results for MRG. This pattern did bring us the few days surrouding New Years which was fantastic but a February without rain (as was the case last year) appears unlikely. We will just have to pick our spots carefully.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

MLK Weekend breakdown

We couldn't quite bring everything together perfectly for Friday but the combination of a clipper system passing through Quebec and a storm moving north along the Atlantic Coast will still provide very nicely for MRG. Snow will begin just prior to daybreak on Friday and continue for about 6 hours potentially becoming heavy for a brief period of time. We should see 1-3 inches by first tracks time Friday and 5-8 inches when snow abruptly tapers off during the afternoon. Temperatures in the 20's will be cold enough to support our powder day but warm enough for comfort so get at it !

The Saturday and Sunday breakdown
Rather than taper to flurries, I expect that the snow on Friday will end altogether as mentioned above. This occurs because the area of strongest upward vertical motion which will be over central Vermont early Friday afternoon will quickly be replaced by an area of strong sinking motion by later in the afternoon. Flurries are likely to re-develop Saturday morning but new snow between closing on Friday and opening on Saturday will be minimal though there should be some untracked Friday snow in our usual MRG nooks and crannies. Some key stability parameters will change substantially as the day progresses Saturday allowing the flurries, mentioned above, to intensify into heavier snow showers as conditions become favorable for TIS. Accumulations are likely late in the day Saturday into early Sunday and some fresh untracked powder should greet the early risers on Sunday (An additional 4-8 inches). The arctic plunge will have with both hands by early Sunday and temperatures will struggle to make it above zero on many sections of the mountain. Stiff winds throughout the day will make it feel well below zero.


After a chilly but relatively dry MLK Monday we get our next chance for accumulating snow on Tuesday. The best way I can describe the snow on Tuesday is that it results from the atmosphere trying to modify too quickly. Anytime arctic air has a firm grip on New England and then is quickly pushed out, warm advection precipitation, usually in the form of snow is the consequence.

Lousy fundamentals return but we remain unharmed through Jan 27
Now there are still some problems with the pattern fundamentals and the latest round of medium range models are suggesting that these problems can't simply be ignored. The return of arctic air this weekend is in direct response to the block over Alaska which extended northward almost to the pole. This feature however is expected to weaken and migrate south and westward back over the Gulf of Alaska. This position would refocus the brunt of the snow over the central Rockies very late in the month and make it difficult for Arctic air to make continuous pushes into the United States. Fortunately, we should be able to navigate through these aforementioned issues through about January 27th. The snow on Tuesday should be followed by a reinforcing shot of arctic air later in the week. At that point the models diverge quite dramatically though both agree on more snow for late in the week. I'll get more specific on that late week chance of snow in the next update but even the disconcerting long range indications should not damage what appears to be a solid last weekend of January for skiing.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Models negotiate a compromise for Friday but MLK weekend looks pretty darn good

The update last night was somewhat unfulfilling in terms of answers and it was difficult to give a real good one in light of the data. The questions all surround Friday which then determines the fate of MLK weekend and as promised it is time to get a bit more definite with the forecast. Models today hammered out a peace treaty for Friday and it is as follows. We will have to concede that the storm which is expected to form along the Atlantic Coast late on Thursday will not be strong enough to produce any epic snowfall on Friday. The European model however has conceded that temperatures throughout the event will remain cold enough to keep precipitation in the form of snow. The expected result therefore is for snow to arrive within a few hours of midnight Friday and fall at a fairly intense rate although only for a short time. The snow could end not long after first tracks time Friday and amount to 5-10 inches. I know its nothing memorable but it will be enough to put MRG back in the New York groove (sorry I had to in light of my beloved NY Giants upset win over the Cowboys Sunday).

We have some additional TIS potential for the weekend as well. After a 12-24 hour break from accumulating snow, flurries will recommence and by the looks of things could evolve into a more heavier snow shower situation late in the day Saturday. I can't promise additional new snow by first tracks time on Saturday but on Sunday my guess is there will be new snow, enough certainly for another powder day. Sunday marks the day however where the serious arctic chill takes a firm grasp on New England. Accompanied by the wind, temperatures will struggle to get above zero Sunday and this will continue into the holiday Monday. It will make for a heck of a scene at both conference championship games (New England/Green Bay) but on the slopes I would recommend bundling up or getting your rear end into the bumps. I know in the 10 years I have been skiing at MRG I have never found a better way to get warm fast than by pounding myself in the bumps for 10 minutes. It can make -10 F feel like 20 F in a big hurry.

Lastly I must declare that my January forecast is going down in flames. I thought we were endanger of a 3-week unabated stretch of mild weather and in no way will that occur. There is a block forming across Alaska and this will grow and eventually stretch poleward and beyond. La Nina or any of the other seasonal indicators discussed in prior posts will not stop the 1-2 week stretch of fairly big time cold which will begin Sunday. As of now much of Vermont is at least 5 degrees above normal for January but by January 30th this average will be much closer to normal. In terms of snow, both models hint that the southeast ridge will do some clashing with the arctic cold leaving us with some storm potential. The one that stands out now is the middle of next week but revisions will be likely so stay tuned.

Snow for Monday but high drama for Friday !!

This update will act as the teaser. I have been away for a few days and have returned home to find a lot of potential in the coming week accompanied by the uncertainty which is piled higher than usual. In short, I want to see another round of model runs before unleashing any risky proclamations.

Much of the juice with this system tomorrow is south and east of Vermont but not all of it. Snow should commence prior to lift opening and continue at a fairly consistent rate throughout the day. A reasonable guess is for 4-8 inches during the day and then another 1-3 prior to lift opening Tuesday.

The Friday Situation
So on Thursday night into Friday we have arctic air plunging into the United States, a rapidly amplifying jet stream, a clipper passing north of the Great Lakes and a developing storm system along the Atlantic Coast. Mix it together correctly and big things could be the result by first tracks time on Friday morning. The European Model, or the model of choice this winter suggests that the Atlantic Coast storm tracks well inland as it heads northward thus bringing warm air northward and potentially wrecking what could be a good situation. Guidance from both the American and Canadian model indicates much greater things. I will take the fifth for the time being and wait for another round of upper air data and model runs before unleashing an opinion. At the SCWB we do like to lay out the possibilities though and expand beyond the "50 percent chance of snow" which is the current NWS indication.

The end of the month also contains some very encouraging news. There is more blocking over Alaska, more arctic air over the U.S. and a few chances for significant snow. More on all that tomorrow as well.

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Winter returns January 13th...

but first we have to take out the last of the garbage. That being another non-snow event on Friday. I have gotten some emails concerning this event and I am well aware that forecasts from the National Weather Service and some other sources are talking about accumulating snow. First of all let me say that any snow would have to fall prior to 5 am. Precipitation is indicated to arrive in Central and Northern Vermont just prior to that time but an hour or two of wet snow early Friday morning will be a foggy memory by daybreak when warmer temperatures aloft change precipitation to a mix of sleet and freezing rain. Ultimately, precipitation goes to plain rain later in the morning. During this event, temperatures will rise to just above the freezing mark and thus we will avoid another base wrecking rain event. Still it will mark the second "non-snow" event in 3 days making the week one to quickly forget at MRG.

Shutting down the La Nina wrecking ball

La Nina has most certainly challenged us in the last few weeks. We had a beautiful reprieve in the days surrounding New Years but the strong Jet in the Pacific has been the biggest most dominant feature in the pattern overall and is certainly one byproduct of La Nina which when measured in terms of sea surface temperatures anomalies as strengthened to -1.6 C. Over the next week or so some key changes in that very critical region will allow winter to make a return to Vermont. The upper ridge which has been positioned northeast of Hawaii for over three weeks will strengthen and push northeastward. Eventually it will establish itself just off the west coast which forces the PNA index upward into positive territory and allows the mean trough position to shift into the Mississippi Valley. With out blocking at the high latitudes (I use the AO to measure this), it will be hard for cold weather to attack Vermont with any ferocity. This new pattern should be favorable enough for some new snow which we would gladly accept after a week like this.

Next chance for powder comes early next week
The first such chance for snow comes Monday/Tuesday and the various computer model simulations have made a mess of themselves sorting through the details. The European model brings a lot of juice are way. It was the warmer of the two simulations but also shows a sizable storm moving up the Atlantic Coast and dumping sizable amounts of snow (with temperatures not far from freezing) on the mountains of Vermont. The American model suggests that the juicy moisture remains offshore and that snow on Monday or Tuesday is lighter and more sensitive to elevation. Loyal readers now the regard I have for the European model and giving it some credence in this instance is both a prudent and fun thing to do. Either way we should get some much needed assistance early next week.

3 or 4 powder days from Jan 14 - Jan 20th ?? - Its possible !!!

More help should follow later in the week. I can only speak more generally out this far but ensembles do indicate a significant jet amplification toward the weekend of the 19th and 20th. Snow would probably fall from a clipper-like system but jet amplifications are typically kind to the mountains of Vermont when it comes to new snowfall. In addition, this ridge west/trough east scenario is in the indication for a 10-14 day period beginning January 13th. Without the blocking at the critical high latitudes it will be difficult to sustain below normal cold; in fact, temperatures in that time frame could average above normal. If we can avoid the rain and continue to accumulate the snow then I am a buyer. And 3 or even 4 powder days are becoming a real possibility in the period beginning Monday and ending January 20th.

Monday, January 7, 2008

January 2006 part two this is not !!!

To put it bluntly, the forecast for the week ahead is god awful. What is worse for me however is being forced to watch a bad movie twice. The movie I am referring to is January of 2006. Going up to Waitsfield in early February of that year and witnessing the snow completely liquidated in the valley was nothing short of traumatic and the necessary therapy didn't arrive until February 2007. I might be accused by some of having "January of 2006 phobia" since a few weeks ago I had some legitimate concerns of a repeat. It was for good reason since there were some glaring and very scary looking fundamentals working against us. The pattern going forward however appears quite different than what it did both in early January of 2006 or in early December of the same year. In spite of having to endure some serious pain this week from two rain events, the pattern going forward after January 13th appears more promising and if nothing else will make some of the proclamations made by yours truly to ring false.

Rain Event #1
There are very few changes to make concerning the next few days. There are a few areas of rain which may at times accompany the above freezing temperatures on Monday. Most of the rain will be out of the picture for Tuesday and limited amounts of sunshine will allow temperatures to reach 50 degrees, at least at the base. Winds will increase out of the south Tuesday night into Wednesday morning and temperatures will remain very mild and perhaps turn even milder Wednesday morning. And then the rain arrives. It will total a half inch or less and last for 6 hours or less. Temperatures will turn colder by the evening which is to say that we will see readings return to below freezing levels Wednesday night which is a far cry from normal. We may also see an inch or two of snow by Thursday morning.

Rain Event #2
The second rain event will stem from a system which will track from the plains on Thursday to the St Lawrence valley by late Friday. With this system, most of central and northern Vermont will stay out of the storms warm sector. It won't prevent rain from falling but it should ensure that readings to stay out of the 40's for an extended period of time. We may actually see a period of freezing rain during the initial hours of precipitation time during the day Friday. Although Saturday's weather will feature colder temperatures and perhaps a minimal accumulation of snow I can assure you that it will follow another quarter to three-quarters of an inch of rain.

2006 avoided
Sunday will mark the end of our troubles at least for the time being. The teleconnection indices are all neutral in the period from the 13th to the 20th of the month and there indications of a slight ridge west/trough east jet stream configuration. This is far from the ideal but January of 2006 it is not. There are no indications of high latitude blocking which is a necessary ingredient for prolonged cold weather but with a mean trough in the eastern or central part of the U.S. we can at least be exposed to some winter weather and a few powder days. The first such powder could arrive as early as Monday (Jan 14th) according to the medium range model guidance. Clipper systems later in the week add some serious sex appeal to the weekend of the 19th and 20th.


The last 10 days of January appears very much up in the air. With out any blocking in the jet stream and a relatively strong Pacific Jet (which remains the indication even on the 20th of January) it will be a serious challenge for below normal temperatures to sustain for more than a few days at a time. Keeping the mean trough position out of the west however (which is the case currently) would keep us out of the way of any more rain.

Friday, January 4, 2008

Tap Dancing through the rain events

Temperatures will climb to above average levels Saturday but will stay below the freezing mark. Light winds and limited sunshine will make conditions feel balmy relative to Thursday however where temperatures struggled to get into the single digits. By Sunday, afternoon sunshine will allow temperatures to soar to 40 degrees but we successfully avoid the rain for another weekend giving us the chance to enjoy the depth of our base which I consider quite a blessing especially when compared to the first January weekend of 2007 when we were dialing 9-1-1 for help.

Record breaking warmth and rain for Wednesday
The "R" word first enters the forecast Monday as a warm front marking the leading edge of the record breaking warmth hovers near the region. The front will allow clouds to cover much of the northern half of Vermont Monday there are indications of a period of light rain late in the day. The chances of such an occurance are still less than 50 percent and the threat should end on Tuesday although an update may be required to clarify the timing. Once the aforementioned warm front pushes into the Saint Lawrence Valley Tuesday we will feel the full force of the January thaw. It is a fairly powerful Bermuda High Pressue Center which will be working to pump some very warm air into the region. Forecasts are suggesting 40's for both Tuesday and Wednesday but I expect temperatures to touch 55 on one or both of these days. And then we feel the impact of a more organized system Wednesday. Amazingly, this particular system will track over the southern edge of the Hudson Bay (thats an unheard of lattitude for January), which, ironically enough, will prevent an all out monsoon. In the end, think the mountain gets less than a half an inch of rain from the system Wednesday but the extreme warmth combined with some strong southerly winds will do some damage to the base. Temperatures on Thursday and Friday will return to a modest 10 degrees above normal (It will be almost 30 above normal Wednesday) and it should stay mainly dry.

More Rain for the 12th/13th?

The question for the weekend of the 12th/13th is whether or not the rain train will have passed us by. The American Model is suggesting that perhaps that is the case but European suggests that the mountain may have to endure some serious pain (from some serious rain). I would love to be a fountain of optimism here but the prevailing pattern (trough west/ridge east) strongly endorses the idea that it will be very difficult for any storm system to pass south and east of MRG. The ensembles provide the concrete data advocating the above conclusion. There is a glimmer of hope and it will be worthwhile to check back in a few days but my loyal audience knows the faith I have in the European model. It is a bit early for a detailed guess but if if the rainy scenario does indeed playout then Sunday is the most likely day for the wash-out.

Long Range

It is the American Model providing the ray of hope for the 12th/13th and it is the American Ensembles which provide a light at the end of the tunnel beyond the 13th. As discussed in earlier posts, we do expect changes in the northeast Pacific Ocean with a ridge replacing the persistent trough in the Gulf of Alaska. This will end the snow onslaught for a ski area like Whistler-Blackcomb and it will also allow some polar air to sneak back into the United States. If the ridge were to remain in the Gulf of Alaska, the cold and unsettled weather would be favored in the eastern Rocky Mountains. The American Model suggests that this ridge migrates eastward (turning the PNA positive) which would thus allow more seasonable temperatures to re-emerge in the northeast perhaps around the 15th of the month. Such a scenario would put my forecast of 10 degrees above over a 3 week period in jeopardy of busting and leaving us much happier by the end of January. It is again the European Ensembles saying "not so fast my friend" by insisting that the milder/less snow regime would continue through January 24th. I freely admit the love affair I have with the European but in this case I am encouraged by the AO and specifically its move into negative territory by late next week. If we can sneak back toward even a semi-normal regime by January 20th, my forecast of 200 inches of snow for the season would be toast. It is an up for grabs situation as of now but one which has hope.

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Your first sick day of 2008 ? Take it on January 2nd

Happy 2008 everybody !!! And there is no better way to ring in the new year than with the 8-10 inches of powder from the New Years Eve dump. Part II should be almost as friendly. This system is approaching straight out of the Great Lakes and therefore did have the opportunity to suck moisture from the Gulf of Mexico or the Atlantic. It is however, as I mentioned in previous posts, a dynamic system and marks the deep jet amplification that will bring the full force of winter back to Vermont although only temporarily. Snow from this system will begin no later than the early afternoon on New Years Day. It will persist through most of the evening and accumulate 5-10 inches. I expect that much of this new snow will be untracked at 8 am on the 2nd so the early risers will get a well deserved reward so be there !!! I was hoping for additional accumulations Wednesday due to TIS. Stability parameters however suggest that snow on Wednesday will fall only as flurries and will not accumulate much. Although the airmass which follows in the wake of our New Years Day snow is quite cold aloft, the low level instability needed to produce TIS only extends a few thousand feet up in the atmosphere or not enough for significant additional accumulations on the 2nd. Additional snow or no, Wednesday will still be one of the best of the year at MRG so far. Get ready for the chill however as temperatures on the mountain will hover around 10 for much of the day and conditions will feel colder by the afternoon as winds increase out of the northwest.

The "very cold" relinquishes its grip by the weekend
Temperatures Wednesday night will bottom out near -10 and then rise only to near zero during the day Thursday. On Friday the weather will begin to undergo some rapid changes. Much of the day Friday will feature high clouds and there could be some light snow for a period which stems from the rush of milder temperatures which will try to make the push into Vermont. The clouds will prevent readings from climbing to above freezing levels at MRG Friday but any more sunshine this upcoming weekend should allow for temperatures to reach the 35-40 range during the afternoons.

Mild weather likely to break some records next week
The mild weather next week will flood all of New England next week like the rush of water from a broken dam. I hate to say it but a 10-day temperature forecast produced by typing MRG's zip code into "weather.com" will not do the mild weather any justice. My guess right now is that temperatures reach the 50's (at least 10 C for you Canadians) on three separate occasions during the week. I would not at all be surprised if readings reached 60 in some of the more low lying areas of Vermont. Record high temperatures will fall like domino's next week all across New England, Quebec and Ontario. Could I still be wrong ? Maybe concerning the intensity of the warmth, but it is very unlikely that we escape some serious damage thanks to next week.

Some additional thoughts on the rest of January
My forecast of 10 above normal for Vermont remains unchanged for the period beginning January 4th and ending on the 24th. There are indications of some much needed changes in the Pacific beginning as early as January 12th however. The strong jet in the northeast Pacific has been fueled by the combination of the ridge northeast of Hawaii and the trough in the Gulf of Alaska. This combination is shown to break down however after the 12th and give way to a ridge which will cover much of the Northeast Pacific. This is hardly an ideal pattern since this long wave configuration still places much of the more unsettled weather (snow) in the Rocky Mountains. Still, a split in the jet stream should ensure that the threat of record breaking warmth (of a multi-day variety) only lasts for a week (next week). I'll expand more on this in the days ahead but for now there is lots of powder to enjoy and only a few days to do it so do it and happy new year once again.