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Saturday, January 22, 2011

Another big east coast storms brings familar question marks and uncertainty

A very frozen interior New England will see temperatures moderate to more reasonable levels by the middle of next week but all eyes will be focused on another major east coast system which intends to slowly gather strength across the southeast on Tuesday and move up the coast Wednesday. This storm brings all sorts of question marks with it no matter where you live. Until then though we can look forward to some lighter snows that we feel more certain about. A decaying clipper system will move swiftly through the Great Lakes and brings some limited moisture to the region Tuesday. This is a very typical occurrence for interior New England following a blast of extreme cold. Attempts at a quick warm-up typically provide the region with a natural overrunning surface and it will thus find a way to snow. I expect a few inches during the day Tuesday but I doubt enough we will have much at first tracks time, it will more than likely be powdered to be enjoyed in the afternoon or during the early morning on Wednesday.

Now to the questions regarding this potential massive east coast system. One of the key ingredients for any major east coast snow event is a cold air damming signature created as arctic air becomes entrenched along the east. We certainly have such a case Monday with extreme cold very much in place Monday. The system in question though is indicated to take its sweet time in its west to east movement Monday not helped certainly by the weakened southern branch of the jet (no El Nino this year). When it finally develops and proceeds up the east coast Wednesday, much of the arctic air will be very stale and many coastal areas could actually see rain. This is not a concern for interior locations of New England such as MRG. The big issue at this time is the recent trends seen in the model data that have this system moving farther off shore. A track close to the coast and hopefully through that critical window between Boston and the cape can mean a big result for us MRG powder hounds later Wednesday into Thursday. We will watch how this unfolds and hope. We deserve a big storm to play in and at some point one of these battles will go our way.

The month should finish and February should start with plenty on the dinner table. The driving force behind the pattern so far this has been the negative Arctic Oscillation and frequent dips in the NAO. The PNA has really not made much of a contribution until now. The Pacific North American oscillation index has surged into positive territory thanks to the development of a ridge across the west coast. This is the feature necessary for more outbreaks of extreme cold mixed in with more weather. It should result in much of the weather we expected this winter with blasts of extreme cold mixed in with weather, most of which should be good but a brief thaw can certainly interject itself into the picture. Overall I remain very upbeat about several powder days in the next two weeks

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