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Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Friday/Saturday weather system is the strongest to impact the region all month

It has been amazing to look at precipitation totals for the month of February and see many places struggling to reach a half an inch (liquid). If the region doesn't get more precipitation this month, it would certainly rank as one of the driest February's on record. Certainly another in a litany of wrong answers this winter. All of that said, MRG and the surrounding area will get the direct impact of the strongest, most organized system of the month later Friday into Saturday. The specifics remain a little uncertain, the precipitation type remains a little uncertain but we can try and clarify what we do know as of now.

Until Friday, the mountain will have to endure another mild stretch of weather. Both Wednesday and Thursday will feature above freezing temperatures. Thursday's weather however will be cloudy and I would expect a period light to moderate snow most likely in the morning. With temperatures in the low to mid 30's, this is going to be a wet snow, perhaps even rain in the immediate Mad River Valley but on the mountain a few inches is a reasonable expectation.

There will not be much cold air to work with as a storm system gathers strength and gathers moisture in the Midwest Thursday night. Temperatures will drop below freezing on the mountain by Friday morning and will hover a few degrees above freezing during the midday. When precipitation finally begins late in the day it will be pretty marginal. The dry air as the surface will help bring temperatures back below freezing as the precipitation intensity increases but conditions aloft could make this tough. An early look at cross sections suggests a period of sleet Friday evening and Friday night. The Tuesday evening run of the GFS though did show mostly snow however thus again offering its ray of hope in what has been a dark winter. The GFS has not performed well however and the weight of the overall pattern will make an all-snow event extremely difficult in my opinion. My guess right now is that after a burst of snow Friday evening, we will see an extended period of sleet and maybe some freezing rain. The best part of this storm is likely to be Saturday. As the system wraps up in the Canadian Martimes, it will allow a pool of instability to settle over the Green Mountains inviting both wrap-around and terrain induced snows to persist throughout the day. By Saturday temperatures will be a lot colder allowing any accumulation to be powder.

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