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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 !

Josh

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).