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Monday, March 18, 2013

Can we get 3 powder days out of this by Friday ? Certainly

The March Mad River Glen powder machine has kicked into high gear and our current weather system should deliver its goods as expected. The weather system is a conglomeration of low pressure centers with one delivering snow while losing steam in the Upper Midwest and our developing east coast system which has all the moisture but is a bit less organized. An initial area of snow is expected to move over the mountain Monday night, dump 2-4 inches of snow prior to first tracks time Tuesday but then weaken just as the mountain opens. Do not be surprised early Tuesday to see some very unimpressive radar imagery and reports of only light snow for a period during the mid to late morning. This will happen because as of early Tuesday, we will still lack a clearly defined low pressure center and areas of precipitation will lack any organization or concentration. As the day progresses this will change as the storm will gather a little strength in eastern New England and allow precipitation to enhance over the central and northern Green Mountains late in the day. After mostly light snow during the ski day, snow should begin to fall more heavily toward the mid and late afternoon and into the evening. Most of our 10-15 inches should fall in the window between 2 pm and about 10 pm Tuesday with light snow before and after this period. Winds will be out of the due east Tuesday and could be a little blustery at the summits but will shift to the west Wednesday and be a bit tamer at the summits. 

The four day period ending Friday could see snow totals exceed 20 inches thanks to a pool of instability from that old and decaying Upper Midwest snow producing system. This area will be slow to move east and the best area for the additional snow might be north of MRG. Still periods of snow at varying rates, particularly Wednesday and Wednesday night and then again on Friday could slowly add to Tuesday's totals. In essence this upcoming period is capable of delivering 3 or perhaps even 4 powder days. Tuesday's snow will be denser, perhaps a little on the wetter side at the base (powder above 2,500 feet) but whatever falls Wednesday through Friday will be lighter, fluffier and all powder. The "additional snow" part of the forecast has some question marks. Snow of the terrain enhanced variety is always tough to nail down but there is also a disturbance rotating through the deep east coast upper trough which is expected to spawn a weak coastal snow producer Thursday. This system will have no impact on MRG except that it could rob some of the dynamics that might help get us that 3rd and 4th powder day Thursday and Friday. I'll keep an eye on this as we progress but this situation is totally capable of delivering 3 powder days to the mountain before its all over by the weekend. 

Models continue to gradually provide a little more clarity involving what could amount to a respectable Mid-Atlantic storm late Sunday into Monday. With the AO being as negative as it is, it will be hard for the mountain to get much love from this but March is known for a few curveballs and it will need to be watched. I will never forget early March of 2001, another period featuring a big high latitude blocking feature and another period featuring a big east coast storm This storm was expected to be historic for the  I 95 corridor while the forecast called for partly cloudy for Mad River Glen, Stowe and Jay Peak. What happened instead was rain along the east coast and 50-70 inches for those three mountains. 

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