It will take some time to evolve but the potential has never been bigger this winter season and by the end of this week will either be camping out at MRG for first tracks or very let down if somehow things fail to come together again. It is a very complex weather situation and for a while it will be a disorganized one and the latter can certainly lead to some anxious moments. The SCWB is all about fun though and would like to try and rise to the challenge rather than hide from it.
As the weather remains quiet and even mild as the weekend wraps up, a storm system will move from the south-central Plains toward eastern Great Lakes spreading snow in a swatch from Kansas to Chicago to Ontario. This system will head northeast with some initial steam but gradually lose strength, speed and cohesiveness in Canada as it encounters the jet stream blocking at the higher latitudes. As this happens however, a large upper trough will descend upon the eastern United States allowing the right ingredients of cold weather across the middle of the country and relative warmth across the Atlantic to ripen the situation for storm development along the east coast. All indications suggest this will happen but the jury is out as to how explosive this development is. As of noon on Saturday, we did see some lose agreement amongst the major computer models to allow a system to form in the vicinity of the Delmarva Peninsula during the middle of the week, move northeast, and then boomerang back into New England as the upper trough evolves into the "bowling ball" we all hope it becomes. There are few impulses rotating through the above mentioned upper air feature and its difficult to be anymore specific except to say that a storm may very well stall in eastern New England and allow a conveyor of moisture from the Atlantic to invariably deposit snow across the Vermont high country for days. That would certainly be my plan if I had any control of it but its far too early make guarantees although it is very nice to see some hard evidence suggesting such an outcome.
In terms of timing, a decaying area of moisture from the weakening storm in the eastern Great Lakes should arrive late on Tuesday and bring some powder for the ski day Wednesday. Any such snow in this time frame will be nice but snowfall from the developing storm along the Atlantic coast (what we hope becomes a full fledged nor’easter) comes later Wednesday and hopefully continues through the end of the week and into the weekend. All I can say is that such an outcome would make for an unbelievable turnaround for much of Vermont ski country and could turn a month that has been remembered for its "Styrofoam" to a month remembered for its "finish".
There are plenty of ways to botch this developing weather situation. Anytime a storm strengthens, stalls and then occludes, warm air from the Atlantic can wrap itself around the northern flank of the storm and actually change snow to something other than snow (we will not mention this word). Storms that occlude are often laced with pockets of dry air which allow for elongated periods where no snow is falling. The storm could also fail to come together at all while the moisture initial eastern Great Lakes dies its slow death and thus allowing the great MRG 2010 snow shield to work its black magic. Fundamentally however, if the storm does indeed stall and occlude, it will be the Vermont high country which will benefit the most. Occlusions are characterized by winds at varying levels of the troposphere aligning directionally and thus making precipitation (amount and type) very sensitive to elevation. I will therefore not at all be surprised to see some surprisingly low snowfall totals across both the Champlain and Upper Valley's while the huge totals come in across both the Green and White mountains of Vermont and New Hampshire.
It is a very exciting situation to say the least. I know we have had a few that haven’t quite played out according to plan but we have to keep calling them like we see them and this one is the best I have seen through the winter season to date.