Models continue undulate somewhat on the track of Thursday's nor'easter. For the record, I will absolutely not conform to The Weather Channel's efforts to name winter storms as the National Hurricane Center does with hurricane's. This is a silly crusade and one that I hope will die an early death. Last night we saw a cycle of model runs that actually did take the storm over New Hampshire and thus brought a layer of above freezing temperatures into Vermont. The recent two model cycles however and the information I am most comfortable with right now, has the storm strengthening over the lower Mississippi Valley Christmas Day, move into the Ohio Valley Christmas Night and then transition toward the Atlantic Coast, ultimately tracking between Boston and Cape Cod by Thursday December 27th. This is the ideal track for most of the Green Mountains, and although this storm is not predicted to be the intensity of Valentine's Day of '07, this strengthening to about 992 mb while the '07 storm was sub-980 mb, it will nonetheless be a big hit for MRG and much of the surrounding area.
The details are subject to some minor adjustments but the information we have suggests that snow will start just after midnight Thursday and begin accumulating in earnest by daybreak. At first tracks time on the 27th, we should have a few inches on the slopes while snow falls 1-2 inches per hour. Winds should be rather blustery at the summits Thursday, blowing from the northeast through much of the day. With any storm, there are variations in the intensity of the snowfall but the bulk of heaviest precipitation could certainly result in snowfall rates upwards of 3 inches or more. The concern with this event has always been a potential change to sleet or freezing rain. That risk for the mountain is now minimal but this critical line will not be far. The big east coast cities of New York and Boston will mostly be rain and cities like Rutland, Lebanon, Albany and Concord could see snow change to sleet and then rain. It looks to be another event where the place to be is north and in the mountains, somewhere such as MRG, which from what I hear, had a nice opening day Christmas Eve.
The snow could continue into part of Thursday night but should be over or taper to flurries by Friday with a total accumulation of 15-25 inches. This is not a forecast for valley locations so no emails from readers in Rutland that only got a slushy 6 inches. There won't be much time to worry about snow totals anyway since by then we will be watching a second weather system, and another potentially significant one. This second system, another southern branch product, will grab some moisture out of the gulf and track toward the Atlantic Coast Saturday. Right now it appears this storm will track further southeast, reaching the Virginia tidewater Saturday night. From here, the storm could either take a trajectory aimed more out to sea or turn northward toward the Cape. Either case would mean more snow for the northeast but the latter means another round of big snows for central and northern Vermont.
The pattern could yield one more big hit just after the new year as well leaving the mountain in fantastic shape in the early part of 2013. Around the time of January 5th is where I start to get nervous since there are threatening indications of a turn to more zonal flow. It's Christmas however and I am in no mood to discuss those things. Enjoy the holiday and stay safe !!