The cold air has made its long awaited arrival and the snow is on its way, proving once again that El Nino's can "put out" and often do so in quantities. The southern branch can also never be underestimated and its up to old tricks this weekend, energizing another system in the gulf states and sending it northeastward. I didn't give this system much of a chance to be quite honest and quite recently sent an email to a loyal SCWB follower to essentially squash his hope. This is a system that will in the end track a bit too far east for a big hit but I do expect the precipitation shield to reach much of Vermont and deposit a few inches of snow to the Green Mountain chain late Saturday before it makes its way into the Canadian Maritimes. Big snows can be expected across the Monadnock region of New Hampshire, which is a region of New England that is often overlooked as far as exciting weather goes. Its close enough to the coast to get the effects of some intense noreasters yet high enough in altitude so that many would-be rain events turn into big snows. This is one of those situations where the Monadnock region can see a foot or more of snow while locations along the coast get rain and the likes of Jay Peak struggle to see an inch.
The global long pattern has indeed become "blocked-up" as expected and the results came very quickly with snow falling at some unusual latitudes such as Texas. The blocking catylist however is situated across Alaska which can create some competing negative impacts on our weather pattern going forward. The most important of these potentially "adverse" impacts is the energy that is expected to dive under the block and into the open waters of the Pacific. It will surely help to create an onslaught of storminess on the west coast (California as opposed to British Columbia) and I would expect some unbelievable snowfall totals from Tahoe and other portions of the interior west over the course of the next two weeks. Farther east however the effects of the energy in the Pacific can be a force for the creation of a mid-continent or southeast ridge. This ridge will be or won't be an issue next week as a major system sweeps across the country. It is expected to evolve into a major winter storm for the upper Midwest and perhaps even a blizzard and then continue toward the northeast United States. The track of this system during the middle of next week is, as you probably guessed, the 64 thousand dollar question.
The playing field next week appears similar in some respects to late December 2002 when a system of similar potential crossed the country and questions regarding the strength of a southeast ridge loomed large. In the end, the El Nino, of a similar strength to this year beat the southeast ridge to a pulp and the storm pulverized interior New England and brought some of the best X-Mas skiing to Vermont ever. I have faith that this El Nino can perform up to 2002's standards especially when combined with a very negative NAO. I therefore am cautiously expecting a big event beginning early Wednesday and persisting into Thursday. I am currently watching the latest and just released information from the European model which suggests a snow to sleet then back to snow type of progression. Such a result would be a great base-building" type of event and if the storm tracks 200 miles further south the results could be more incredible with snow in feet and some epic early season powder.
Beyond the storm late next week, appears to be a pattern marked by a very negative AO and NAO. The pipeline of viciously cold arctic air appears a bit closed off so I would expect temperatures that are more or less seasonable but with a minimal threat for rain and a very little in the way of above freezing temperatures. We should therefore be able to gradually add to whatever base gets laid down next week and should be in good shape as we approach the winter solstice. Information from the American model suggested a big storm around the middle of the month this morning but the ensembles are indicating a pattern which might be free of storminess during this middle of the month period. Its tough to predict such weather during an El Nino but it is at least a possibility. At the very least, I am happy to report generally favorable weather beyond the middle of the month thanks mostly to the favorable teleconnections indices of the Arctic and North Atlantic Oscilation.
I just bought a cheap DVD, the Grateful Dead's "Dead Ahead" for $9.99 which is a recording of a performance of a 1980 show at Radio City music hall. What a band they were and what great value that DVD is if you can find it at that price. Wow, great to watch and do a blog entry !!!