An innocent looking area of precipitation near the Gulf Coast has not been so innocent over Houston where freezing rain has been the grand finale to an incredibly cold week. The cold was so extreme and invaded Texas with such ferocity that power plants that are not equipped to handle those kind of temperatures tripped off line and the power grid was left with a massive electricity generation shortage on a day with heating demand. Over time, a more organized area of low pressure will form across the Carolinas and move quickly northeast toward New England later Saturday. The relatively cold airmass situated over the region now will become quite stale by late Saturday allowing temperatures to become quite comfortable by the afternoon after a cold start in spite of the advancing clouds. The snow will arrive overnight and temperatures in the low lying areas will be warm enough so that much of the snow is of the wetter variety. On the mountain though the snow will be powder and will begin during the evening and end very early Sunday morning or at least taper to flurries. Its not a huge dump but certainly one that looked more unlikely a few days ago and certainly enough (4-6 inches) for a powder day Sunday.
As discussed in some previous posts, we have lost the support of our teleconnection indices. For now however you wouldn't know it. The pattern over the next week will include storms and big intrusions of cold. This all occurs as the existing ridge-trough pattern has two big amplifications left in the gas tank. The first brings a significant area of low pressure with it which will strengthen across the Midwest and bring more snow to the mountain Monday night. Most of the runs up through now have suggested that there not a major injection of Atlantic moisture with this storm although the European which is just coming out as I write this is finally showing just as the storm is indicated to re-position off the coast. Either way, Tuesday sets up to be a big winner with either a moderate amount or a lot of powder. I'll take those options any day.
In the wake of Tuesday's snow comes the cold which will be with us for the duration of the week. Temperatures will range from zero to 10 below in the mornings and may only climb to near 10 during the afternoons. This second amplification later in the week may bring the coldest weather of the season so far by Friday and Saturday. The American model would have us believing that this second intrusion of cold will not be accompanied by snow but the Euro is doing it again by allowing for another albeit weaker blossoming of the southeast ridge and thus allowing a storm to ride up into the Tennessee Valley and eventually toward the southern New England. This would be a dreamy and very powdery scenario that would result in one of the more epic weeks of skiing in recent memory for MRG.
Yes its cold then for Friday into early Saturday but a potentially big moderation in temperatures begins for the weekend into the early part of the presidents day holiday. As the arctic air shifts west, temperatures may turn above normal for a period and we may be playing a bit of defense against the advancing warm air and some other things that i really would prefer not to mention. This is a long way off and there are plenty of reasons to be happy until then. Enjoy the powder over the next week there should be plenty of it!!