Think Snow, Tweet Snow !!!

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Winter read to take a tight grip on Vermont for the next 10 days

Winter is back and should have a clear reign over interior New England over the next 10 days. Temperatures should get very chilly even by New England standards but there should be some snow along with this pattern coming a couple of different ways. In the short term, the dry forecast I put out a few days ago should actually get thwarted by disturbance rotating through the Hudson bay embedded within the polar jet. Not much moisture with this feature but clouds and some light snow should overspread the region New Years Day and continue into part of Friday January 2nd. The snow could amount to 1-4 inches and will be of the "very fluffy" variety. Arctic high pressure then takes a very temporary grip on the region Friday night into early Saturday and sets the stage for our next precipitation producer Saturday night into Sunday.

The upcoming weekend storm continues to look significant and though we have narrowed the outcomes of this considerably there remains some small uncertainty regarding the final track of this storm. The main area of low pressure could travel anywhere between extreme southern Quebec and Massachusetts. There are other questions relating to the evolution of this storm as it interacts with the Atlantic coast as there most always is. That all being said, I am relatively confident that some significant snow should impact northern Vermont early Sunday, accumulate several inches and then possibly change to a sleet/freezing rain mixture and possibly not. I don't think the region has to worry about the "R" word anymore though coastal cities should see that almost exclusively. The possibility of a 8-16 inch powder-fest still exists though and hopefully this outcome wins the day and gets 2015 off to a positive start.

Very cold weather is expected to take direct aim at New England next week thanks to the full force of the Polar Jet. We haven't seen the ole PJ in a while actually and it should although we were hit with some chilly weather in these days after Christmas, it will pale in comparison to some very sub-zero temperatures that should impact the region next week. The cold weather will re-build across the region Monday and then a reenforcing blast of arctic air should send readings to their lowest point of the season so far sometime during the middle to later part of next week. Now the interesting part of this story relates to this reenforcing blast of cold and what kind of disturbance might be responsible for this. There have been hints of some potent PJ energy capable of churning up a storm for New England at some point next week. The Euro showed this 12/29 but took it away 12/30 but I mention it since I believe it's worth watching.

Beyond next week we still have to concern ourselves with the ongoing battle of the arctic cold verses the warm discussed in the last update. A upper ridge in the southeast will be prevalent and will push occasionally very mild air in our direction and this is expected to occur again around the time of the 10th. If the southern branch of the jet, remains strong enough, it should be able to break this ridge down and keep the weather interesting as opposed to mild for the middle of January.

Saturday, December 27, 2014

Holiday Update - The Longer Version

Time for a long version and a bit more detail on what should be an interesting upcoming period across interior New England. We are finally coming to the end of a stretch of relative warmth. Fortunately, it wasn't record warmth but it came at an inopportune time and we are in need of some replenishment. I can't promise any of that in the short term I am sorry to say but we will see a return to winter-like temps following just about a tenth of an inch of rain Saturday night or early Sunday. It will then turn chilly with temperatures well below freezing through pretty much all of the upcoming New Years week. With the exception of a few flurries here and there, it will also be precipitation free.

Although arctic air will make a very profound descent on North America this week, it's continued presence across the U.S. beyond the 2nd across much of the U.S. including New England will not go unchallenged. The jet stream in the Pacific will remain relatively loose for a time, and we will have the support of some high latitude blocking which is expected to start in the Yukon and retrograde more to the Bering Sea. Let it be known that I would certainly prefer any high latitude blocking as opposed to none, but the position of this particular block in the jet stream will be west of a perfectly ideal location. Arctic air will thus have to contend with a upper ridge over the Southeast U.S. which will invariably want to push milder temperatures up the Eastern Seaboard.

There are nothing wrong with such challenges I will point out. This is how storms get churned up and often how very good periods of snowfall can occur across interior New England but it's always a close call and sometimes we end up with rain or ice. This is the very scenario that confronts us on or around the time of January 3rd, which will be the day, or close to the day when our next significant precipitation-producer arrives. The initial low pressure center is likely to pass to the west of New England but we could see a couple of things in spite of this. 1) We could see the storm transfer it's energy to the coast and save the region from another partial meltdown. 2) We could an extended period of overrunning snow before any change to sleet or ice or the dreaded rain. 3) We could still see the track of this storm shift south and east a bit more yielding a much more favorable result for the Vermont high country.

I think this will be a ongoing battle through around the middle of January. Cold weather fighting it out with an occasional mild push of air. Each of these air mass clashes though should bring the chance for a storm and some wintry precipitation to the region. It's hard to fathom this particular pattern lingering too long into January. A ridge across the southeast U.S. is not something that is typically very prevalent during any kind of El Nino, even a weak one. It will be interesting to see how this all evolves, but given the presence of arctic air, I would surprised if we end up with little or nothing to show for all this by January 15th.

Friday, December 26, 2014

Holiday update - Just the short version

Been a little tough to do a full update the past few days so my apologies for that. I can do a short version right now and a longer version tomorrow. We have some light rain to contend with early Sunday after one more mild day Saturday. It then turns colder but unfortunately, no Pre-New Years storm. The next big precipitation producer will likely come during the weekend after New Years. Arctic air will be battling it out with a strong upper ridge in the Southeast. It's a close call right now between mixed precipitation or snow so I am hoping for a bit more clarity tomorrow when we do a subsequent and more comprehensive update.

Monday, December 22, 2014

Through the holidays and beyond

Through most of this December, Northern New England has been one of the few places east of the Mississippi to actually enjoy some assemblance of winter. This remains true as of early in the Christmas week. Temperatures have begun their rise over a large expanse of the country but readings remain below freezing under clouds across much of the Vermont high country. This is about the only good thing I can say in the short term. It is not very advantageous to be anywhere in the east during the Christmas holiday, Vermont included.

Moisture from a piece of the approaching storm system will arrive Monday night as some snow, accumulate a few inches then turn freezing drizzle or some freezing rain during the midday hours Tuesday. Some locations are indicated to get above freezing during the day Tuesday but I think much of the mountain can hang on to 32 F for most of the day. Models do indicate a more organized area of rain, arriving Tuesday night which will likely fall as some rain in most places and freezing rain in some.

A massive surge of mid-layer tropospheric warmth is expected to arrive by Wednesday morning. Most of this air will remain a couple thousand feet above the surface and it could provide one of those rare situations where the summit of Mt Washington out does all the valley locations on temperature. Even the summit of General Stark could warm to near 40 by late Christmas eve before valley locations do the same by early Christmas morning. There is no avoiding the rain however. It will remain sporadic through early Christmas eve then turn heavier during the day. I am hoping the temperature inversion will keep the winds down since high winds combined with high dewpoints and rain can eat away at snow very quickly. Models do indicate a small window of time early Christmas day when some of the excessive mid-level warmth could mix down to the surface allowing temperatures to surge (perhaps as high as 50). This would occur just as some of the better frontogenetics are pushing through the region allowing for the possibility of very heavy rain and even a thunderstorm. The pain should be over with by later in the day on Christmas and temperatures will fall back toward the freezing mark by the 26th.

The overall weather pattern is expected oscillate quite violently over the next several weeks. A loosening of the jet in the Pacific combined with the development of the large upper level ridge over Alaska and the Yukon will support a turn toward colder temperatures. The arrival of the cold in Vermont will have to wait until the 28th (both Friday and Saturday following Xmas could see readings sneak above freezing still). The combined presence of Arctic air in the days before New Years along with a trough position in the middle of the continent does provide an inviting open door for a substantial winter weather event around or just before New Years Day. Medium range models have gone back and forth on this; but in this update, it is a small island of hope in a sea of bad news.

The Madden-Julian Oscillation or MJO is what has many in the meteorological community talking over the last few days. At least as it pertains to weather as we head into January. I don't want to get too bogged down talking about the phenomena, but to put it as simply as I can, the MJO describes a cycle of convective thunderstorm activity near the Indian Ocean. There are several phases of the MJO and each phase can have an impact on the Jet Stream in the Pacific, how loose or tight it is and whether or not we will see an evil empire. The MJO has been very disappointing this month. It spent a number of days in adverse phases for us and has since proceeded toward neutrality without fully rotating toward favorable phases. By early January, it is now expected to move back into treacherous ground for us. This is a big reason why some of the ensemble guidance has allowed the cold pattern to flop just after the New Year. We don't have total agreement on some of this but there are enough indications to suggest that the cold will retreat again in early January. If it's a modest retreat, we can still hold out hope for some snowfall but a full retreat could put a hurting on us again. We shall see.

Friday, December 19, 2014

Join the movement ! Sign the petition ! Keep the warm air out !

If there seriously was a community-action type movement, I would certainly put a sign in my yard. I even wonder if I made a tee-shirt "keep the warm air out" and sold them at the Mad River Glen general store, would they sell. They should this week..

I am certainly a little disappointed at Santa Claus for the partial Christmas debauchery that models are currently indicating for the mountain. Especially for a week that showed such promise a week ago only to turn so horribly wrong the last few days. The model consensus has moved away from the "Midwest hurricane" which was indicated a few days ago. This would have a more dire scenario with, warm air, rain, wind, and high dewpoints dealing the mountain a crippling blow heading into the New Year. The period of 40-plus warmth and rain appears limited to a smaller window now but needless to say it will still do some damage.

In the very short term, we will get a chance to dry out this weekend. Limited sunshine and a higher ceiling should allow for better visibility. Temperatures will also remain below freezing through Monday. Part of our "How the Grinch Stole Our Snow" story next week involves how a storm which originally seemed to destined to be a big east coast hit Sunday/Monday, has fizzled to nothing (Monday looks entirely dry) and how all the action now is confined to the massive mid-continent jet amplification which will have a clear dominance over the battlefield.

As of now, there appear to be a few pieces to the Christmas storm and although this is still hardly ideal, it is better than the alternative as I had mentioned - the bomb/hurricane looking system over the Midwest. The first wave brings it's moisture into interior New England Tuesday; in fact, temperatures at that point might still be able to support snow for a time before going to some freezing rain or drizzle. If the storm conglomerate remains a conglomerate, the near freezing temperatures will put up some resistance and we will avoid any substantial melt-off through early Christmas Eve. After that though, the region will see a tremendous surge of both Atlantic Ocean moisture and air and this will allow readings to climb into the upper 30's. The rain could be heavy and be accompanied by wind - it won't be pretty. There are indications on some of the medium range models that temperatures spike into the mid-40's, though I am still holding out some hope that we remain in the 30's, partially limiting the damage.

With the trough amplification occurring much farther west than we would have preferred and the upper air energy associated with this storm drifting north into eastern Canada late next week, it will actually take a bit of time to chill the mountain down again. Wrap around moisture might be able to sweep back into Vermont by the 26th but snow will be limited and valley temperatures might remain above freezing. There is a second weather system that should come out of the Rockies late in the week which could bring mixed precipitation or snow to the region around the time of the 27th. Hopefully this begins our road back.

We still expect the emergence of a jet stream block over Alaska and a loosening of the jet in the mid-latitude Pacific. Eventually, even the NAO is expected to make a run into negative territory. This will support the presence of cold arctic air across much of the country including New England. There has been a trend in recent days to shift the main thrust of this arctic air westward allowing the east coast to be more in a battle zone of air-masses. This works fine for us since it usually means storminess, and we will need that after the Grinch steals our snow Christmas eve.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Potential Christmas storm looking more like a "meltdown"

I almost felt that we had some authentic "mojo" this year, the chaos of New England weather can put the kibosh on those good vibes very quickly. I sincerely wish I had better news for the Christmas holiday but I don't today. We knew it was going to be a stormy week, a week with some potential but it looks today like mother nature could take us to the woodshed.

In the short term the mountain will be fine. Snow on Wednesday night into Thursday will amount to 3-6 inches and we will temporarily rid ourselves of the dreary dampness. Bluer skies should arrive Friday will be accompanied by seasonable temperatures and this will be followed by a fantastic visibility day Saturday, again with seasonable temperatures.  By the end of the weekend, we could see some clouds move into the region but even Sunday should be precipitation-free.

All the action comes during the upcoming Christmas week. There are still two weather systems worthy of mention but the 2nd will hog most of the headlines. The first will do a slow lollygag along the Gulf Coast this weekend and try and gather some energy as it reaches the Atlantic Sunday. I had much higher hopes of this system honestly, as did many others in the meteorology community. For now however, it appears this storm will struggle to attain any significant strength and although it will proceed up the east coast Monday it will only bring limited moisture into New England early in the week. I am not giving up entirely on this system but current indications are for a limited accumulation if anything at all.

After that is when our headache might begin. The 2nd in the series of southern branch features will follow closely on the heels of the first, but the 2nd will make it's eastward progression just as a major piece of Pacific energy is cascading southeast out of the Northern Rockies. This is an extremely unfortunate turn of events if it were to play out this way. The two systems will phase in the middle of the country, way, way too far west for our liking. A storm will thus explode in the Ohio Valley and Great Lakes region and the storm could be strong enough to suck extremely warm air from the Atlantic Ocean through all New England and even deep into Quebec. There could be wind, high dewpoints and a lot of rain, all of which contribute to the dreaded meltdown which we really wouldn't want. I am seriously calling for a lifeline on this, especially since the list of ingredients could have produced some exceptionally positive results if we could simply mixed all this stuff together a little differently.

Is there a way out ? Please ! It was such a resounding statement from two of the major computer models today that I am cowering in fear right now. I hate rain on Christmas anyway and I double hate it when it's melting snow. Yes though, I will keep the slight possibility of a way out. My hope right now is that the southern branch feature can haul ass early next week, get well out in front of the trailing Pacific energy and thus allow for a later amplification. The storm in that case might be able to jump to the coast before exploding and flooding us with warm air. If your planning to ski on Christmas day or just beyond, my advice would be to join me in prayer in that regard.

The trend toward a colder pattern, anchored mostly by the emergence of blocking across Alaska and the Yukon and a much looser Pacific jet remains on track around Dec 27-28. The new "colder" pattern could also be accompanied by more storminess as there remains indications of split flow in the jet. We should be able to keep this going through the early part of January as well so at least we have that.

Monday, December 15, 2014

Evolving weather pattern will bring back the cold while storm potential continues

Though it may be categorically "above-normal", a thaw it has not been. Temperatures have generally remained below-freezing on the mountain and the deep snow has so far held its ground. The next storm system will bring its precipitation to the mountain Tuesday night and we still expect temperatures in the lowest 5,000 feet to be very marginal. This being said, models are only allowing these "marginal" temps to get to about 34 or 35 which keep the door open for mixed precipitation as opposed to plain rain. The summits might be able to keep the precip-type completely frozen. This system is eying the St Lawrence Valley as it's favored track but it will make that important jump to the coast during the day Wednesday and in doing so will allow the lower troposphere to cool enough to support some snow. What does fall later Wednesday into Wednesday night will be of the terrain-enhanced variety and could accumulate 2-5 inches by first tracks time Thursday.

There is lots to talk about today including some potential storms and some big-picture changes that will have a profound impact on MRG weather as we head toward the end of 2014. In spite of all the snow, the pattern has not been anchored by favorable teleconnection indices and the jet stream in the Pacific has been much too tight for my liking allowing the EPO index to remain positive. Over the next 7-10 days, the jet in the Pacific will loosen dramatically, a ridge will establish itself over Alaska and the Polar jet will make it's presence known. The country as a whole has seen very limited amounts of cold over the first two weeks of December and MRG has had a very limited supply to work with during the last two recent snow events (though we managed to come out on top anyway). After Christmas, this will be very different, cold will cover much of the country, New England included, and so long we can keep the southern branch of the jet stream active (which is legit question), things will get very interesting.

Actually things are already interesting and this refers back to our last discussion a few days ago. There are two systems of note and one or both or none could have a significant impact on the region between the 21st and 26th of the month. The first is a strong southern branch system, yet another in this El Nino winter, which will progress across part of the country by the 20th and then attempt to make a northeastward turn as it heads toward the Atlantic Coast. Models over the last three days have produced a variety of results regarding the outcome of this system. As of Monday afternoon, the consensus of information actually allowed the storm to simply move out over the ocean and remain a non-event for most of New England. I bring it up however because it is hardly game-over with this system. The polar jet will remain rather uninvolved in the weather pattern through the 21st and thus the door is open for this thing to make critical northward turn. I wouldn't at all be surprised to see models sing a different tune on this storm either tomorrow or the next day.

Potential storm #2 will impact the region around Christmas as cold air invades a large swath of the plains and Rocky Mountains. There is legitimate concern that the pattern could initially amplify too far west and allow any storm to ride into the Great Lakes but it's early and their are lots of moving parts here. Incoming polar jet, southern stream energy and changes in the pattern at a big picture are level are all going to have some impact.

Friday, December 12, 2014

Mild air won't dent us too much over the next few days so lets discuss more interesting stuff down the road

The big nor'easter has left MRG sitting pretty on December 12th with a terrific base to work of off. Hopefully as many of you as possible were able to make it out for opening day, the earliest in a decade if memory serves. To provide some perspective, I remember years where no one has been up the single until mid-January

Although flurries will continue through Saturday, we are entering a brief drier and milder stretch of days. I say mild but the relative "warmth" will merely consist of a few comfortable above-freezing afternoons Sunday, Monday and Tuesday and when I say "above freezing" I am talking mid-30's. All three of these days should feature some great visibility as well which the mountain hasn't had since Monday. If there is a upcoming concern, it involves a potential weather system that is expected to swing through the region Tuesday night. Temperatures will be quite marginal and we may see rain or mixed precipitation. There is a Great Lakes low pressure center with this system that is likely to pass to our west but it is possible that the storm makes a jump to the coast. If it does this quickly, and the coastal system can intensify quickly, it could keep precipitation mostly frozen and even allow for a few inches of snow before more seasonable below freezing temperatures are ushered back into the region later in the week.

There are two very visible, and very intriguing looking southern jet disturbances that have been on many of the recent ensemble runs over the past two days or so. They begin a progression across the southern part of the country late next week and move into Texas by the weekend of the 20th/21st. Meanwhile, the pattern fundamentally will begin to take on a different shape. The blowtorch across Canada will subside and this should start to open the door for colder weather to enter the weather picture (although I don't think this really happens until after Christmas). The system in Texas next weekend will need some help, a wingman so to speak. If a disturbance, either Pacific or Polar, can come and provide a little assistance, this could again wind up being a significant east coast system in the days prior to Christmas. The same goes for the 2nd disturbance which should trail the first by a few days.

In short, with the threat of a big warm-up now mitigated, we can now focus on what could wind up being a very exciting period around the days of the Christmas holiday, with all this occurring after an early open and 45 inches of snow which has already fallen this month. I'll talk more about some of the longer range stuff come this Sunday when we could perhaps have a clearer view at particulars.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Snowflakes are back and they should start to pile up

Beautiful looking swatch of moisture rotated back into interior New England and ultimately Vermont Wednesday afternoon bringing heavier precipitation back to Vermont. The light freezing rain and sleet changed back to some snow and this should continue into Wednesday evening as the lower troposphere continues to cool; in fact, we should see less and less sleet/freezing rain and more and more snow as the hours go by.

The decaying surface low pressure center will drift, ever so slowly, toward the Canadian Border tonight into tomorrow. The various conveyors of moisture currently on radar won't be as pronounced allowing select locations to get lucky while others are less than lucky. Still, we should begin seeing some good terrain enhancement tomorrow which should persist through Friday and then taper to flurries or very light snow Saturday. Hopefully opening day ! Additional accumulations beginning now and ending by early in the day Saturday could easily be a foot.

We still have a few above-freezing afternoon's to contend with beginning Sunday and ending Tuesday but the end of next week appears categorically cooler or normal.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Heavy snow overspreads the Green Mts Tuesday but will it continue ?

Just a quick update...

Good moderate to heavy snow is falling across the Green Mountains as of early evening Tuesday. We need this to keep up because the snow is falling through a small but very marginally above-freezing layer in the atmosphere. Would not at all be surprised to see some sleet and freezing rain mix into the snow later this evening. It could be a bit of a back and forth battle during the overnight depending on the intensity of the precipitation. The heavy stuff will come down more as snow while the light stuff will be more of a sleet/freezing rain mixture. By Wednesday morning, most of the heaviest precipitation will be over with and we will see sleet, freezing rain or even some plain rain for much of the day. I really do think total accumulations (5-10 inches) will be held down by the mixing but we will see a very healthy water equivalent out of this which means we have a great foundation to build on.

The atmosphere will cool enough Wednesday night for snow to re-commence and continue both Thursday, Friday and possibly into Saturday. The storm will have occluded, essentially meaning that it has reached its final state of maturation and will decay but it will only move very slowly as it does this. This is a set up that favors terrain enhanced snow and we could see an additional 6-12 inches over the 2-3 day period. We won't see the kind of snowfall rates we saw Tuesday evening but the steady light snow should add over the course of 3-days.

Still looking at some milder days late this weekend into early next week. A feared massive thaw is starting to look less lightly as come chillier air will sneak back into the region later in the week.

Monday, December 8, 2014

Variety pack of weather set to hit MRG with mid-week nor'easter

Almost game time with this storm though it's only beginning to take shape as of Tuesday afternoon.  It is a rather unique merging, almost collision of two garden variety weather systems. One, well off the Mid Atlantic coast that will migrate northwestward toward the coast, and another passing rather innocently through the Great Lakes. The two will phase in magnificent fashion Tuesday morning and the fireworks show ensues. Rain and snow will light up the radar screen by Tuesday afternoon and snow should spread into MRG by the middle of the afternoon. Cold arctic air snuck its way into New England Sunday night and will continue a tenuous grip on the region through the onset of precipitation tomorrow. It should get quite fun for a time with huge snowfall rates Tuesday evening into early Tuesday night allowing accumulations to get as high as a foot and very quickly.

The track of this quite powerful nor'easter is expected to proceed to southern New England before becoming nearly stationary. Warm air will thus get sucked around the top side of the storm in counter-clockwise fashion. I expect we will see a lull in the precipitation as this happens, often referred to as a dry slot. Once precipitation does re-commence during the day Wednesday, it is unlikely to be snow.  There are some interesting temperature profiles being shown by some of the shorter range computer models and they run counter to some of my thoughts from the last post. During the day Wednesday, a layer of above freezing temperatures is expected to cover northern Vermont between 6,000 and 10,000 feet. Below that, readings struggle to reach the freezing mark. One would look at this storm and quickly conclude that it is not an "overrunning-style" event but temperature profiles show that type of structure. So instead of a elevation sensitive rain/snow day on Wednesday, it looks more like sleet/freezing rain/rain type of day. Any powder that falls Tuesday evening is going to get a very quick glaze or get mashed up by the sleet.

After a period of the non-snow type stuff Wednesday, temperatures in the lower troposphere should cool enough to support snow, particularly at the high elevations. The storm is expected to occlude by this point and although this eliminates the chance for extremely heavy precipitation. Elevation sensitive snow should be able to persist through Thursday into Friday. I am still hoping that the storm just gets a small second wind while repositioning itself near the coast Thursday. This could allow a period of at least moderate snow Thursday or Thursday night. Whatever does fall Thursday into Friday will be wet at low elevations and only powdery near the summits and accumulations will range from a relatively low few inches in the valley's to upwards of an additional foot near the summits. Because of the sleet/freezing rain/rain situation Wednesday, I highly doubt we will ever have 2 feet on the ground at the end of the storm. We are more likely to get a good 6-12 inch thump Tuesday night which will get compressed Wednesday with another layer of 6-12 inches between Wednesday night and Friday. Classic New England !

I've seen some maps suggesting a widespread 1-2 foot storm for Vermont. This might work for the Adirondacks but I think this is too aggressive for all of Vermont. Don't think we will score those results unless you above 2000 feet but fortunately most of Mad River is.

We still are going to have to contend with a nasty string of mild days beginning late this weekend. The Pacific is not friendly right now with the positive EPO (Equatorial Pacific Oscillation) creating the dreaded evil empire. We will have an active southern branch of the jet next week into the Winter Solstice but with very limited cold air. Expect several above freezing days next week and a day with some plain rain. Unfortunately, the pattern could linger until just before the Christmas holiday.

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Tuesday/Wednesday Nor'easter is happening but expected track shifts west

We're a couple inches closer thanks to some snow on Friday and Saturday and could get very close with a little help from some fortuitous "bomb-o-genesis" Tuesday and Wednesday. Every time a model shows an event like this I think of Bob Weir's solo effort "Bombs Away". The lyrics in the chorus are "Bombs Away (bombs away), I think I am back in love again". Nothing but love for Bob Weir, but it is not one of my favorite songs. I just can't keep it out of my head when a nor'easter shows up and why not. The lyrics are perfectly appropriate in regards to pre-storm anticipation and those lyrics will be a future tweet sometime but just not now. The uncertainty regarding development of this storm has vanished, it will happen and it will be big. Unfortunately, a big snow event at MRG is far from guaranteed. At the least though, the storm will bring some drama and if your a weather enthusiast get ready !

I referenced the great Nor'easter of December 1992 and there are some similarities with the upcoming storm. That storm also formed without much help from the polar jet and had limited amounts of cold to work with. The storm caused historic coastal flooding that in the last 30 years has probably only been surpassed by Hurricane Sandy. It also dumped 30-50 inches of snow on the Catskills and Berkshires (I can't quite remember how Vermont fared on that one). The lack energy from the polar jet can open the door for warm intrusions of air and a dreaded change to rain but it also means a very slow moving event. These are the very items that need to be discussed with the upcoming storm.

As of late Saturday we are starting to establish a consensus based on data from several medium range computer models. This consensus has actually shifted the track of this very strong storm farther west, particularly Tuesday evening. The European and Canadian model now suggest an inland track that allows the storm to track west of Boston. The limited cold would be at least partially flushed out and the region would have to endure a change to rain at least at low elevations late Feb 2010-style. The American model has been the last arriving guest to the nor'easter party but would suggest the most ideal solution - all snow, all the time at all elevations.

With the European/Canadian blend performing better with this event so far I am inclined to believe the "warmer" scenario which does allow for a period of rain at low elevations. The silver lining has to do with the aforementioned paragraph.  The storm will be a very slow mover and its final phase of maturation, the closing off of the low pressure system or occlusion, it will reposition itself along the coast and could allow for elongated period of light to moderate snow later in the upcoming week.

As for specific timing, precipitation will begin as all snow and become very heavy for a time later in the day Tuesday into Tuesday evening. By early Wednesday morning, warm ocean air would allow low elevations to change to plain rain while snow continues to fall near the summits of the Green Mountains. This type of storm will be incredibly elevation sensitive on Wednesday. By Wednesday night, once the storm begins to occlude, we could see a change back to snow. The snow intensity is unlikely to be heavy and will fall at varying intensities (we could also see a lull in all precipitation) but accumulations could be significant. Even with a warmer track, we still could see 6-12 inches of snow on the front end of this event and another 5-15 inches at the back. The rain at low elevations Wednesday is a "downer" but not an "outer" for this event. Total snowfall could still be over 20 inches, especially above 3000 feet.

Following the storm the region will have to endure a gradual warm-up and what could be some very warm days around the 14th to 17th of December. This is in response to the overall North American retreat of the cold thanks mostly to the severely tightened jet in the Pacific. Around the time of the Solstice the pattern might normalize, thanks mostly to a PNA ridge which is expected to form around that time. The southern branch of the jet though is clearly and very back in business this year.  This is a classic El Nino personality and this means lots of potential storms event with just a minimal amount of cold, very much like the one in front of us.

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Talk of a big storm ignites in spite of a lousy looking weather pattern

In what looks, in the large scale, like a very no-fun weather pattern, Vermonters might be in need of their party hats next week. I don't want to get too carried away but there is, at the very least, a good deal to discuss over the next week. Mad River has yet to open so we will try and keep this concise.

There are now two precipitation producers to talk about, the 2nd of which is the most intriguing but also the most uncertain. The first arrives Friday night and brings the ole variety pack of weather with it. Although a limited supply of cold has been positioned over New England, it will grow stale by late Friday. Precipitation will arrive in the form of snow, accumulate 1-3 inches and then change to freezing rain or rain, depending on the exact location. Model cross sections do show the potential for a return to snow Saturday afternoon or evening after several hours of freezing rain, rain or drizzle. The snow on the back end of this system could again amount to several inches. Hopefully it all makes for a nice concrete slab to build on. Nothing wrong with a good foundation if that's what we get.

Arctic air positioned in Quebec will then infiltrate the region and become what could be an important ingredient. The big picture view shows the polar jet in full retreat mode next week and although this can be counter-productive, it can also allow open the door for all sorts of interesting things along the east coast. Think about it ! No polar jet and nothing steer some of the bigger Atlantic storms out to sea. So it basically goes like this. A storm will gather strength near the Virginia Tidewater Monday and proceed up the coast Tuesday. Meanwhile, a leftover Pacific disturbance will dive into the Midwest and little provide the dynamite for what should be an explosive storm. A classic noreaster actually, though the coast should be spared of any snow.
The cold air comes compliments of our buddies in Quebec but it will only have a precarious hold on the region. That and the American GFS model continues to take the system out innocently over the ocean. So the possibility of a rain event and the possibility of a total whiff remains a part of the possibility range. This being said, the more I look at this system, the more I think it could produce results. Maybe even big results of the foot or more variety. Totally incredible actually in an otherwise crap pattern. I almost forgot, the timing of all this is pushed back slightly. Precipitation, if it does arrive comes Tuesday and persists through much of the day.

And yes it still remains a relatively unexciting pattern. The jet in the Pacific has tightened and although the teleconnections are generally neutral or slightly adverse for us. Jet energy like that in the Pacific is always problematic. By around the December 14th or so, we could be looking at a thaw or at least a series of above freezing December days. The weather has done a good job of thwarting an otherwise lousy pattern so far. Maybe it continues.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

El Nino's dark side is revealing itself but Vermont weather still could get interesting

The critical ENSO "3-4" region has jumped to a warm 1.0 as of this past week and although the weather pattern doesn't directly respond to those types of changes, El Nino is making itself known and not in the way I would have wanted. The weather pattern in November more or less picked up where last year left off. A large ridge in the jet stream across Alaska and western North America, a mostly loose jet in the Pacific and extreme cold for November standards over large swaths of both the U.S. and Canada. As the month turned to December, the weather pattern flipped on its head and is now dominated by an entirely different set of weather features. The most critical of these features is a broad expanse of jet energy that has settled into the northern and middle latitudes of the Pacific Ocean. This has tightened the jet stream dramatically and caused much of the arctic cold in North America to make a hasty retreat. There are similarities here to our coined "evil empire" feature (large mid latitude Pacific Ocean ridge) but the two are different for a few reasons. The biggest of which will be the precipitation situation in California. The major impacts will be similar however with much of the eastern United States struggling to have enough cold air to support snow over the next 2-3 weeks. "Much" however is not all and I am hoping Vermont is one of the few exceptions.

We did experience a brief but damaging thaw over the weekend, but the "leftovers", from November's polar vortex have brought winter back to Vermont and a few inches of snow as well. The late part of the current week and the weekend are expected to be high and mostly dry. The one exception would be Saturday where some light snow from a disturbance in the retreating polar jet could grace the region with a very light accumulation. After the weekend and through most of next week, the polar jet will be of little use to us and our eyes will turn to the southern branch of the jet stream and a storm that will ultimately track toward the Carolina coast late this weekend or early Monday. This system will not be inhibited by any polar energy, and moisture from this system could work its way into the region early next week. Do we have enough cold air to support a big snow ? Maybe, but it will be of the stale variety, and this makes the prospects of a 15-30 inch powder-fest a daunting one.

Winter will remain loosely entrenched across the region through the middle part of next week, a few days after our potential early-week storm.  The threat for warm days and even some rain will persist however in this pattern through around the Winter Solstice as much above-normal temperatures dominate much of Canada. If there is a silver-lining, it is that the mean axis of the warmth-producing ridge should set up well to the region's west. I certainly don't expect sustained cold weather in such a set-up, but interior New England is positioned to have the best chance of retaining some sense of winter even as the blowtorch impacts large portions of the rest of the continent.

Some other "housekeeping" items that I want to mention in the update today. The "favorability index" this year will be scrapped. I still like the idea of an index but it proves confusing and most importantly has not been particularly accurate over the last few years. One of the big issues with the index, as it relates to snowfall in Vermont, is the varying degrees of what is optimal. For example, a maxed out negative AO and NAO in January usually means Vermont is in the "shaft" zone for snow but such a scenario can be fruitful very early or very late in the year. What has worked well is the tweets however. Hey, we live in the attention-deficit tech savvy world and the blog should embrace it. We will use twitter more and use complex and unreliable "favorability index" less (I should say not at all). Please feel free to follow and respond on Twitter.

Monday, November 24, 2014

Quick hitting 5-10 incher Thanksgiving eve/day followed by an early season body-blow

The near-60 degree temperatures took the wind out of our November sails so to speak. The pattern has one more good amplification left in its stash however and that comes Thanksgiving-eve into Thanksgiving day. More than anything, I hope its a preview of things to come since this jet amplification will tap into the more active El Nino fueled southern branch of the jet stream. The weather system will cross north-central Florida late Tuesday and progress up the Atlantic coast Wednesday. The storm will undergo some rapid deepening particularly late in the day Wednesday and this combined with it's already attained moisture will make the weather system a formidable one albeit quick moving.

Wednesday is a massive travel day, and the storm prospects of a storm and its potential impact on East Coast metropolis conglomerate has many weather personalities and forecasting outfits debating the potential impacts. For the I95 corridor it  is an interesting debate of whether some of the impressive dynamics associated with this storm, can on its own, overwhelm a very limited supply of available cold air at the surface. I will leave this debate for others to partake. Our debate pertains only to amounts of snow, which is a much more preferable argument to the rain/snow argument. Snow, and only snow, should begin mid-afternoon Wednesday and continue through about half the overnight. Some of the heaviest precipitation is likely to fall south and east of North-Central Vermont but snowfall of the light to moderate intensity for several hours will be good enough for a 5-10 inch snowfall.

Thursday and Friday are both dominated by chilly weather, at least for November standards. Terrain induced snow showers on Friday could bring an additional few inches to parts of northern Vermont. After that we head into early December and some early season rough-sledding. We will lose support from nearly all of our favorite teleconnections, particularly the PNA which will reverse signs by late November. Cold will fight for partial control of the weather across interior New England but we will have several mild days between at least the 1st and 9th of December. To be perfectly blunt. We will not be able to continue this early season momentum and will have to endure a break.

I think mild pattern will run it's course by around the time of December 10th. Ensembles are only showing some weak signs of a more neutral set up by then but it's early.

Friday, November 21, 2014

Lots of signs pointing in a similar direction - A big 2014-2015 !!

Winter 2014-2015 is coming in with a vengeance, the Green Mountains have been whitened and the mood is clearly appropriate for some preseason prognosticating. This is year 10 of the SCWB. It started with sporadic emails to Eric in 2004 and it continues now with blogspot, twitter and our own urban dictionary of weather terminology designed specifically for the avid New England powder hounds. The blog continues this year and will at least start with plenty of anticipation. The pattern, currently anchored by a magnificent looking positive PNA structure has delivered widespread cold to eastern North America. But even more intriguing is the combination of what appears to be at least a mild El Nino, a positive PDO and another impressive expansion of snow/ice in the Northern Hemisphere. Are these the ingredients for a round of 1977-1978 style fireworks ? Or will the welcomed addition of the southern branch of the jet stream deliver all of its goodies to Pennsylvania, New Jersey and points south like 2009-2010 or even worse, will the winter STB like 1991-1992 after a chilly November. Worthy of some discussion at the very least. I have added some links to further explain some terminology. Most of them go to Wiki (And I encourage contributions to them). 

After a 4-year hiatus, El Nino has returned, and over recent weeks has been gathering strength. The state of the ENSO continues to be one of the more reliable ways to predict behavioral patterns of weather in a given season, particularly winter. It can be particularly useful when trying to pinpoint the frequency of specific occurrences. And it is especially relevant  this year given its 4-year absence and the general presence of La Nina at varying degrees of intensity over the past 4 years. The strength of an El Nino is determined by the strength of positive sea surface temperature anomalies in the equatorial Pacific Ocean. There has been much discussion from the National Weather Service's Climate Prediction Center about the potential ENSO event this year and in spite of much discussion, El Nino, has been slow to manifest.  In the last 30 days however, sea surface temperatures in key regions of the equatorial Pacific have warmed to about 1 C above normal. Typically this is about the threshold where we see miner ENSO impacts become more significant. These impacts include a suppressed and active jet stream in the Pacific fueling a potent southern branch of the jet stream. A jet stream capable of relieving California of its 2-year drought, bring significant snows to the southern Rockies and heavy rainfall from Texas to the southeastern states. Quite often, these many juicy weather systems culminate their trip across North America by evolving into major East Coast weather systems. Temperature impacts have also proven to be substantial, especially during the bigger ENSO events. The persistent throng of energy in the Pacific can counteract the southward advance of arctic air. Much of the Northern Plains, Upper Midwest and most of the eastern two thirds of Canada typically see above normal temperatures during a significant El Nino. The most egregious example was 1998, where water temperatures warmed to over 2C above average. Mad River enjoyed a fun-filled winter with plenty of juicy winter storms, but it was warm and the season was interrupted by a damaging ice storm in early January which required herculean efforts by many coop volunteers to clean the woods of debris. This year's El Nino, like all the others since,  won't even be half the strength of 1998 and the result of this, we hope, is that we see more of the typical impacts of precipitation as opposed to temperature. I will point out that 1998 is often used as a reference point for many global warming/climate change deniers. "We haven't globally warmed since 1998 !" you will hear, or some version of that. Statistically that is true when using 1998 as a reference point since the 3-Sigma El Nino of that year provided for additional and significant temperatures perturbations globally and thus many years since have been cooler than that globally. Statistics have been and will continue to be manipulated to suit all sides of every argument but that is one that has always bothered me. Back to our present weather situation. Many might remember 2009-2010, the last El Nino winter and the heart-ache in northern Vermont as the snow piled up well to our south while General Stark enjoyed mostly dry weather for long stretches of time.  Yes that could happen again but the adverse storm track of  2009-2010 was primarily due to the extremely negative Arctic Oscillation that accompanied that El Nino that year. We like negative AO's but not that negative ! It is unlikely that combination will prevail again this year.

The PDO has earned its place in the preseason discussion and like the ENSO, the index is defying the most recent 4 year history. The PDO (Pacific Decadal Oscillation) describes the configuration of sea surface temperatures in the mid-latitude Pacific, above the equator where we monitor ENSO. Around the time of 2007, the PDO had its multi-decadal shift going from an index that was mostly positive to an index mostly negative. It is not a rule without exceptions, the PDO can be in a negative decadal phase and have a positive year and vice-versa. It just has decadal tendencies, which is how the phenomenon was discovered and although we are in a negative tendency, it appears we will have a positive year. We went into last season with a negative index but it turned in January and the index remained positive through March. The index could switch this year but will at least start the season positive. The sign of the index does have a tendency to be correlated with the ENSO but not entirely. In the case of this year, the development of the El Nino seems to have gone hand in hand with the evolving positive PDO. Why is the positive PDO significant ? The long wave or jet stream pattern can often have a difficult time locking in place with a negative PDO as illustrated during the winters of 2011-2012 and 2012-2013. Often times, cold and snowy weather can occur only to be abruptly interrupted by a intrusive thaw. A positive PDO favors the ridge west/trough east regime and these regimes can remain in place for longer periods uninterrupted.

I want to bring up an important side note related somewhat to the PDO. I want to aknowledge an important driving force behind last years cold weather, the repeated PV invasions and I also want to aknowledge an individual who pointed this fact out on more than one occasion last year. We mentioned the persistent Alaskan jet stream ridge as the catalyst behind much of the cold, but an old colleague of mine, Joe Bastardi, referenced that a driving force behind that particular weather feature was a large area/bubble of warm water in the Gulf of Alaska. This very large bubble of warmth blossomed in December of last year as the PDO switched from a negative to a positive phase. Bastardi style of self-promotional forecasting is something I take issue with at times and I particularly don't like his invariable bashings of the National Weather Service, which employs many talented meteorologists, who by law are not allowed to defend themselves against his repeated attacks. That said, Bastardi did point out the importance of this bubble of warmth in the Pacific and I think he's right, it was significant. This large area of warmth remains positioned in the Gulf of Alaska but it has shifted eastward slightly and the configuration of water temperatures now resembles the classic "red-horseshoe" look of the traditional positive PDO. 

The real fun begins when we start talking about the autumnal expansion of snow and ice in the Northern Hemisphere this year. It wasn't going to be easy but it was achieved. We actually bested last year's monster October snow cover number of 21.01 millions of square km and chimed in this year with a 22.88 number this year. The 2nd highest in the very brief 47-year history of recorded data. Some of the recent November weeks are running almost 4 millions of square km above last year according to our friends at the Rutgers University Snow Lab - . Lets dumb this down a bit this year and look at some big years in this 47 year history of recorded data. Here are a list of big autumn snow cover years (at least 1 STDEV above normal)  in the Northern Hemisphere and the corresponding result in Vermont. 

Year    Snowcover      Temp         Snow 
1970    21.84          Cold         Totally Epic
1971    21.53          Cold         Snowy
1972    21.52          Mild         Sucky
1976    25.72          Ext/Cold     Snowy
2002    23.24          Cold         Snowy
2009    21.01          Warm         Normal 
2013    21.01          Ext/Cold     Slightly Snowy 

By contrast here are some low snow cover years and the corresponding result. 
1979    14.68          Normal       Sucky
1980    13.61          Cold         Normal 
1987    13.35          Warm         Sucky
1988    12.78          Warm         Beyond Sucky
1990    15.58          Warm         2x Beyond Sucky
1994    14.23          Warm         Sucky

There are a few exceptions on both sides of course and it is hardly a perfect relationship. In fact, there are some recent years where snow cover was within a standard deviation of normal (but still above or below the normal) in the northern hemisphere and the weather in Vermont did the opposite of what this illustration is trying to display. That said, the 22.88 number is a strong signal and if past history is any indication, the colder weather will win a majority of the battles this year as it did last year. 

In a poker game, players use the term "tell" to describe a behavior or a demeanor that might give competitors a clue as to the nature of a players hand. I look at the weather the same way. By early November, it starts to exhibit a behavior that typically foreshadows the nature of the winter. It doesn't work all the time but it earns it's place as a contributing variable in the preseason discussion. This year it is a pretty obvious one. We have just been slammed with the strongest attack of November cold in more than a decade across the eastern half of North America. Lake Effect snows totaling over 8 feet and temperatures that are as much as 25 below average all supported by a classic positive PNA structure. It is a pattern I would expect we should see repeated a few times this winter since it is one that we do typically see in positive PDO years. What we need to really hope for is the support from the active southern branch of the jet stream, which will be catalyst for several monster east coast events 1978 and 1994 style. 

Needless to say I am pretty stoked about the upcoming winter. And yeah I am inherently stoked before every winter and I try and provide that disclaimer to account for the bias, but this to me is the most impressive collection of indicators we have seen in the last 10 years for a cold and snowy winter. It will also likely be a collection of indicators  not surpassed in the 2nd 10 years of the SCWB, if we can achieve that longevity. El Nino is providing us with some needed added southern stream juice, PDO is having a counter-tendency positive year, there is a mammoth amount of early Northern Hemispheric snow cover and the weather pattern has already exhibited a need for a big positive PNA outburst. Could we crap out like '91 ? Anything can happen and preseason forecasts can be inaccurate. I am probably about 60 percent confident about this forecast as opposed to my normal 55 percent preseason confidence. 1991, by the way, was a stronger El Nino year with a widespread and rather strong attack of November cold. The winter then proceeded to fall completely flat and turned out to be quite warm with a glaring lack of snow. The snow cover number that October though was 15.58 millions of square km. We were over 7 million square km above that this past October. With all that said, I expect, only for the 2nd time, for Vermont to see a colder than average winter and I expect some above average snowfall along with that. An additional shorter term update will follow in the coming days which will include some snow around Thanksgiving and a temperature moderation for the early part of December as we lose teleconnection support.  

Saturday, April 19, 2014

2013-2014: A cold winter with a satisfying finish

The winter 2013-2014 is reaching a conclusion and if nothing else has earned a distinctiveness that should set it apart in our memory. 2011-12 will be remembered for all the wrong reasons and 2012-2013 was hardly distinctive at all. 2013-2014 however was remarkable in many ways. Most notable is the persistent cold. The period starting November 1st and ending March 31st was approximately 4 degrees below average and every month within that period was below average, culminating in March which was nearly 10 below average. All of those 3 occurrences are statistically impressive. The winter of 2013-14 defined by those 5 months is the coldest in over a quarter century and going back 50 years, only the winter of 2002-2003 featured 5 months of below normal temperatures in succession. March of 2014 was truly the grand finale. Relative to normal, it was the coldest in Vermont since the commencement of the blog 10 years ago. 

For some of our recent down years, the cold has been the missing ingredient in the weather pattern. This was not the case for much of 2013-14 but in spite of that, we had some struggles on the snow side that seemed to become statewide household knowledge. Every discussion relating to the weather seemed to refer to Vermont's lack of snow relative to the rest of the geographic world. This was very much an intuitive observation and was made by some very casual weather observers to say the least, even from people outside the state.  Intuition or not, the observation proves to be quite astute statistically in a relative sense, and is the 2nd most notable characteristic of the recent winter. Consider New York City receiving 56 inches of snow, Philadelphia 66", Detroit 94" and Chicago 81" all between 180 and 300 percent of normal. In the case of Michigan, many locations saw the snowiest winter ever recorded. Thanks to a big late season push, Vermont also saw above average snowfall but it wasn't by much and we were below average for the first two-thirds of the season. The big snow season in the Great Lakes region compared to the near normal season in Vermont I find particularly strange since the two regions are often on the receiving end of the same big storms, evidenced by the recent winters of 2010-2011 and 2007-2008. 

In spite of this, the season finished on a strong note and ranked better than the previous two. The mountain saw no rain in March until the very end of the month and only witnessed three 40-degree days. Compare that to 2012 which saw near 80-degree temperatures and a quick end to a miserable season by the early to middle part of the month. In a relative sense, we performed poorly but it was a solid season statistically that continues for portions of the high country both in Vermont and New Hampshire. 

There were two very important factors driving the particularly intense cold weather this season. I always tell people that from the standpoint of temperature, a winter is measured by the strength of the cold during the coldest periods. Outbreaks of cold this past winter were especially strong relative to normal and exceeded almost anything we have seen since January 2004. There will be differing opinions as to what root cause prevailed on the atmosphere during the winter but my opinion is that one relates to a feedback that started early last autumn. An unusually high build-up of early-mid autumn snow in the northern hemisphere helped the pooling efficiency of the polar air masses at high latitudes. The cold air effectively worked its way into mid-latitude North America early in the year, freezing the Hudson Bay on the earliest date in a decade and ultimately freezing 80 percent of the Great Lakes aggregate by late January. Freezing large bodies of water such as the Hudson Bay or the Great Lakes turns them into an additional breeding ground for cold. I felt as if almost every cold front this winter marked the leading edge of not just garden variety cold, but extreme cold of 20-30 degrees below average. The outbreak of cold and snow we received this past April 16th underscores this point. 

The second factor refers to a much talked about topic in recent winters the "Evil Empire". The "Evil Empire" coined a few years ago describes the phenomena of large upper trough over large upper ridge in the vastness of the Pacific Ocean. The tightened jet stream which results from such an occurrence is so destructive for all of eastern ski country including Vermont and it was especially destructive during all of 2011-2012 and for a large portion of 2012-2013. There is a teleconnection index that essentially measures the strength of the "Evil Empire" called the Eastern Pacific Oscillation. A positive index indicates tightness in the Pacific Jet and the presence of the "EE" while a negative index refers to a looseness in the jet over the Pacific and the absence of the "EE". In spite of a flare-up here and there, the "Evil Empire" was largely a non-factor and the predominant feature in the up-stream jet configuration was a large upper ridge covering Alaska. There were interruptions but the Alaskan ridge was an incredibly persistent force throughout the winter, channeling cold from that region, straight into the middle part of North America, specifically the central provinces of Canada and the Midwest. The cold attacked the northeast as well but the brunt of it was felt across the central third of North America. The Alaskan ridge was a welcome change from winters of recent past but still at times was the catalyst for a detrimental storm track. The most ideal storm track for interior New England places a ridge over the western part over the Yukon or even the Northwest Territories of Canada. The placement of the ridge so far west allowed storms to ride up through the Great Lakes on several occasions both in late December and then again in that devastating thaw we saw between January 10th and 14th. The aforementioned January thaw was especially destructive since it consisted of nearly 80 hours of above-freezing temperatures there was no quick recovery to be found "In the wake of the flood" (Small GD reference but necessary since I am listening to some random GD concert as I write this). 

Ultimately the cold won the day and the months of February and March. The long wave pattern was able to flatten just enough to allow storms to take a more favorable track for snow across interior New England. The two big storms basically occurred exactly a month apart and on the anniversary of two of our favorite snow blitzes of the last quarter century. The first was a big, moist coastal bomb on Valentines Day and the second came at us from the Ohio Valley and occurred on March 12/13. Both delivered snowfall amounts just shy of 2 feet and produced outstanding stretches of skiing at MRG. 

We finally have some hard-earned warm weather to enjoy and with that the SCWB signs off for another season. I was fortunate enough to ski at MRG 8-days this winter (more than the previous two) and met some more great people. If you read the blog but typically ski or ride elsewhere you should certainly make plans to visit MRG in 2014-2015. It's a special place, especially in an era where skiing has experienced some hyper-commercialization. Enjoy the summer everyone, we will meet again come late this fall. 

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

MRG season to conclude with warm temperatures, soft snow and mostly rain-free

I have to confess I am a little tuned out on winter and snow thus the blog got a bit neglected. In spite of that, and the recent stretch of above-freezing days, deep snow remains across the high country of interior New England. MRG appears to be skiing quite nicely in spite of some recent rains and if you have been waiting for that sunny, good visibility day to attack the spring skiing then your wait will soon be over. Both Wednesday and Thursday should feature healthy doses of sunshine and warm afternoon temperatures, particularly Thursday where readings should climb into the 50's. Clouds will be more prevalent and we could see some light rain Thursday night or Friday but it shouldn't amount to much.

This brings us to the conclusion of the season at MRG and the weather appears as if it will cooperate. Clouds will gradually give way to some sunshine early Saturday, visibility will improve and temperatures will surge toward the 50-degree mark. On Sunday, clouds and moisture associated with a stronger push of warm temperatures will skirt northern New England but I think much of the wet weather will be confined to the St Lawrence Valley. There remains some disagreement amongst the models regarding this question but my educated guess is that the mountain stays dry although there could be more in the way of clouds. Once again, Sunday's temperatures should at least approach the 50 degree mark.

MRG will end its season Sunday, just in time for some 60 degree temperatures Monday followed by heavy rain possibly thunderstorms Monday night or Tuesday. A strong push of below normal temperatures along with some snow is then likely for the middle of the week. I know the skiing will continue for some but the blog will conclude with a final season wrap-up early next week.

Friday, March 28, 2014

Challenging forecast Saturday night involving exploding east coast storm

Very tricky forecast for Saturday night as a storm is expected to explode in the vicinity of the Delmarva and spread precipitation deep into New England. Temperatures are very, very marginal this weekend but the National Weather Service is concerned enough about a potential "heavy wet snow event" that they have posted a Winter Storm Watch for much of the region, MRG included. The justification for this comes from data released by successive runs of a higher resolution short term model. Other data from the more globally gridded, lower resolution medium range models suggest a warmer storm and mostly rain for areas below 2,000 feet. I am inclined to believe that this is a elevation sensitive event, especially when talking about snowfall totals. When some of the heaviest stuff is falling overnight Saturday, precipitation should be a gloppy snow but accumulations will be most significant across the high country, particularly from the mid-station up. When precipitation is not as heavy, it will likely fall as rain in the valley's and remain snow or mixed precipitation across the high country. There is a substantial amount of moisture associated with this storm and if we can keep most of this snow on top of the mountain, it could get very deep, even upwards of 10 or more inches. I don't expect Rt 100 to receive more than a gloppy inch or two and the base of MRG might even struggle to get anything more than a few wet inches. There are also indications of some invasive warm layers in the atmosphere that could change everyone to rain Sunday as precipitation lessens in intensity.

This remains a much more "spring" oriented pattern which means plenty of above freezing days over the next week. Monday through Wednesday will see readings into the 40's during the afternoons. By then end of the week, another significant storm system could impact the region. Temperatures may not be cold enough to support snow but I would not completely rule it out, especially this winter. The weekend of April 5th and 6th should see a return to below average temperatures and this could extend through part of the following week. Blogging for the duration of the season will be dependent on how late the mountain decides to stay open. I know there is some deep snow out there still but if MRG decides to ramp down the hours, the SCWB will do the same.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Some spring thawing is finally eminent beginning late this week

The big noreaster swirling off the New England coast did not provide the fireworks we hoped it would but this wasn't entirely unexpected. Meanwhile, unusually intense late-season cold is keeping the mountain quite frozen. We saw widespread sub zero temperatures Tuesday morning and we should see more of the same Thursday morning before temperatures finally take a late-day run at the freezing mark. The exiting cold will allow a more spring-like weather and temperature regime to commence over the mountain. There will be extended periods, beginning Friday, of above freezing temperatures thus allowing for the significant amounts of March snow to corn up and soften quite nicely. This being said, the warm weather does not appear to be particularly anomalous nor does it appear to be as significant as what I had advertised a few days ago. Nonetheless, it will mark the first significant shift toward spring-like weather on the mountain and most notably, will provide the opportunity for the "R" word to re-enter the vocabulary. 

Incredibly, the mountain has only touched 40-degrees one time this month which is quite an achievement in March and would be noteworthy even in January and February. Friday will be the second such day. Model data is suggesting that clouds would keep temperatures in the 40's but a few hours of sunshine could certainly boost readings to 50 near the base.  The extensive cloudiness and numerous weather systems over the next week is the big reason why the mild weather will be mitigated verses some of my own earlier expectations. A weather system Friday will weaken as it makes its approach late in the day but will bring a period of light rain to the mountain anyway. Temperatures will remain above freezing (high 30's or low 40's)  throughout Saturday underneath more cloudiness. Another and stronger storm system will then approach from the southwest and promises to bring more rain Saturday night which could end as some wet snow Sunday morning. 

The weather continues to look mild through the early part of the week with at least two days of 45 and perhaps one of these above 50. Another storm system could spread rain into the region Tuesday which yet again could end as some wet snow before colder weather arrives for the middle of the week. The break in the cold can somewhat be attributed to a huge surge in the AO index (The NAO also made a less significant surge). The index of both of these teleconnection indices is expected to be neutralized and perhaps even go negative by the first weekend in April. This would provide a brief window where we could see another round of wintry weather. Overall though, the thaw will finally be on across interior New England after one of the coldest month of March in half a century. 


Friday, March 21, 2014

Some snow and lots of cold for next 5 days but finally hints at some spring warmth on the horizon

Friday's snowfall brings the mountain to the 200-inch benchmark for the season. March has been nothing short of tremendous. We have yet to receive a drop of rain and have nearly 50 inches of new snow to play in. Saturday's storm track has moved north since the last update and it puts the mountain at the bottom edge of some of the best moisture which appears a bit more limited. Snow should begin around 9 AM Saturday morning and persist through a good part of the ski day. Total snowfall should be in the 3-5 inch range by Saturday evening.

The very impressive outbreak of late-March cold arrives for Sunday sending temperatures back into the teens and then back below zero Sunday night. More snow showers are possible for Sunday adding to the light accumulation from Saturday. The 25-30 degree below normal temperatures will solidify March of 2014 as one of the coldest in the last 100 years for interior New England. Records and statistics aside, the cold has been axiomatic as much of the state has added to snow depths this month as opposed to seeing any significant melt.

There has been a considerable amount of chatter regarding a storm in the middle of next week. As each day passes, it appears as if the storm is a threat mainly for the Mid-Atlantic states along with coastal New England. The storm will have an inverted trough (as some call it) that will progress east along its northern flank and may spread some snow into Vermont and New Hampshire on Tuesday night into Wednesday, but the snow appears to be light in nature. Mainly the Monday-Wednesday time frame will be cold. Depending on cloud cover, temperatures may struggle to reach 20 all three days.

There is finally some significant signs of a major shift in the overall pattern and one that would lead to the first substantial thaw of the spring season. Part of it can be attributed to the NAO which will shift into positive territory. Most of it however appears to be related to energy in the jet stream that is anticipated to be trapped across the mountain-west late next week. Temperatures will begin to moderate Thursday slightly but more so Friday. A storm system around the 30th may thwart part of this warm-up but ultimately there will be some very warm days toward the end of the month and into early April. The mountain has not seen anything close to 50 since the January thaw more than two months ago and certainly hasn't sniffed 60 since autumn. This stretch of warmth, which should peak very early in April will probably allow readings to eclipse both marks and finally provide the region with spring thaw and some spring skiing.

Monday, March 17, 2014

Coldest March in recent memory set for a big finish

And we have had some big March's in the 80's, 90's and not soon to be forgotten 2001. As far as cold is concerned however, March of 2014 is poised to take the throne. We can say this since it looks like Polar Vortex VII is ready send Vermont back in the deep freeze next week in spite of late March, the surpassing of the equinox and the official arrival of spring. It wild be called "record breaking" cold yet again but more accurately can be described as 100-year cold, but will nonetheless be very impressive no matter what you want to call it. After last week's big snow and the several additional events that are both likely and possible, the mountain is likely to have the snowiest month of the season and perhaps in several years if we are lucky.

I had hoped our first chance for snow late this Wednesday into early Thursday would be another 6-plus. It still could be, but the storm approaching from the midwest is likely to occlude and not get much of a needed boost from any coastal redevelopment. We are thus likely to see a swath of precipitation move through Wednesday night with temperatures close to 30 degrees on much of the mountain. Precipitation will stay all snow but will be briefer in nature and is not expected to be particularly intense. Snowfall should range in the 3-6 inch category by first tracks time Thursday. Enough for another powder, especially where its coldest (mid-mountain and up).

Thursday and Friday will be a rare period this month where temperatures could sneak above the freezing mark during the afternoon, especially in the lower part of the mountain. By Saturday, clouds and snow will move back into the region from what looks to be another, and more significant storm system.  This storm is expected to intensify as it begins to interact with the coast and snowfall is more likely to range in the 6-12 range between midday Saturday and early Sunday. Temperatures will return to the teens and 20's after the snow making it the 2nd powdery Sunday in a row

One of the more prevalent features this winter has been the development and repeated redevelopment of a ridge across Alaska. The weather has been mild this winter across the 49th state as a result but the more significant consequence for us has been the repeated Polar Vortex events, many of which have been especially intense compared to anything we have seen this past decade and beyond. Much of the midwest has been ground zero for the most intense cold this winter but the epicenter has shifted toward New England somewhat this month and the week beginning March 23rd promises to solidify the month as a historic one for cold across all of interior New England. Incredibly, we expect another several days next week of sub zero temperatures in the morning and  at least 2 days where temperatures fail to break 20, maybe even 15 with the help of clouds or snow. This is 25 below average and a 180 degree turn from 2012  which was as much as 30 above average on the warmest days. There are indications of a big coastal storm in the Tuesday/Wednesday time frame just prior to the arrival of what appears to be the grand finale of late March cold for late in the week (there are signs of some milder weather by the 30th or so). The potential next week snow remains 8-9 days away, enough time for expectations to evolve.

Friday, March 14, 2014

Good garden variety event shaping up for 19th/20th as March cold expected to continue

Saturday's weather system should bring an additional 1-4 inches (highest above the Mid-Station) but it will be a considerably warmer event. Temperatures may hover just above the freezing mark at the base and near 30 high on the hill. Incredibly, Saturday will actually be one of the warmer days of the next week or more. March of 2014 is setting up to be one of the coldest in Vermont going back 50 years. Readings are anywhere between 9 and 12 degrees below normal for the first 13 days of March and well below normal temperatures are expected for the remainder of the month. The deep snow cover across the central and northern part of the state will help accentuate the behavior. The region also has a chance to see a great month of snow. The Wednesday/Thursday epic storm helped and I fully expect more events in what appears to be a fruitful pattern. I was talking to Eric just the other day about our tendency to psychologically tune out winter by late March but often times the combination of a deep healthy base along with some great powder (and tolerable temperatures) occurs right during this period.

Saturday's light snow event is followed by more very unusual late-winter cold. High temperatures will only be in the teens both Sunday and Monday and below zero early Monday (frozen green beer weather !). A storm early in the week will travel well to the south of Vermont but another one will quickly follow on its heels and spread clouds and snow back into the region Wednesday. There has been some back and forth on the medium range models about where the snow/wintry mix line sets up Wednesday and Wednesday night, but from my vantage point, we have a good shot at a solid garden variety snow event with several inches by first tracks time Thursday the 20th. Generally below freezing temperatures follow this storm for Friday and into the weekend of the 22nd and 23rd.

In spite of very little support from some of our favorite teleconnection indices, the jet stream in the Pacific is expected to loosen during the last week of March. The core of some of the coldest air in the entire Northern Hemisphere is expected to settle into eastern Canada. If you are anxiously waiting for spring, you are likely going to have to continue to wait. If your looking for 10 more ski days and a few more powder days, you are in luck. We probably are going to see another significant snowstorm in this period along with 1-2 outbreaks of some serious relative cold.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

15-30 inches from big mid-week storm - No place better than northern VT

This storm belongs to us. We've watched many go south and a few go north, but there is no place better than the northern half of Vermont along with the Adirondacks late Wednesday into Thursday. This is the Delaware Valley to Boston express, a storm track we have not seen to much of the last few seasons but a good one for MRG and surroundings. The storm will also go through its maturation at an opportune time, right over the Ohio Valley and then bomb off the New England coast early Thursday to the tune of sub-980 mb. This would make it the strongest of the season to-date. The latest round of info has actually trended the track of the storm farther, north although not a lot. One of the results of this is that a small above-freezing layer in the atmosphere (~10,000 - 12,000 ft up) will push into central Vermont and well into New Hampshire. The Weather Channel's own and Vermont native Jim Cantore announced via twitter that he is going to Killington. This most assuredly means that the sleet will follow him but go no further ;)

Anyway, the snow should begin in the form of flurries early Wednesday, within an hour or so of lift opening. Through about 11 am, the snowfall won't be too substantial, but by around noon, snow should pick up and begin to fall heavily by early afternoon. The last few hours of the ski day promises to be fun with 1-2 inch snowfall rates and this would persist into the evening. I have heard some grumbling around town about fear of a sierra cement storm. Understandable since temperatures Tuesday soared to near 40 on the mountain and beyond that in the valley. In the initial hours of the storm, the snowfall could be a touch wet at the base as temperatures hover around the 30-32 degree mark, the summit should readings stay in the 20's however which would help the snow consistency. As the storm makes its transition to the coast Wednesday night, the region should see some of the heaviest snowfall of the season with a few hours of potentially 3-inch an hour snowfall rates along with the possibility of thunder. We are in some of the best frontogenetic environment of the season during this period between about 9 PM Wed and 1 AM Thursday, so if your a weather fanatic, be ready !! It is possible, that if we see a relative "lull" in the snowfall rate earlier Wednesday evening, some sleet could mix in but I don't think it have a material impact on the overall storm since whatever falls out of this will be minimal. Back to the snow consistency - temperatures will nosedive later Wednesday evening with the heaviest snow falling while readings are in the teens. This is not a sierra cement event, although because of the wind, the density of the snow will be higher and exposed areas of the mountain will get wind packed. Nothing we aren't used to.

Snow should continue through a good part of Thursday but at a lesser intensity. Temperatures will be brutally cold for mid-march, hovering in the single numbers on a good part of the mountain. Wind speeds will be strong but out of the north and northwest Thursday, a friendly direction for the MRG lifts. Accumulations will range between 15-30 inches as a whole. If we do get a brief period sleet, it will have the effect of compressing some of the already fallen snow and thus I don't want to get too crazy with snowfall amounts, as exciting as the storm looks. In addition, it will be a tough storm to accurately measure because of all the wind.

Temperatures will moderate somewhat Friday thanks to some limited sun although mornings temps will be sub-zero (again). Snow returns on Saturday as a clipper should provide a light "after dinner drink" of sorts with a few inches possible. More cold weather returns for Sunday and Monday. There are not many signs of a major warm-up thereafter and I think the remainder of March will be on the below side of average. Considering the time of year, many of the afternoons could see temperatures above freezing depending on the day but no signs of a eminent melt down. I expect more in the way of snow along with this and potentially another big storm, time will tell.

Get after it late this week but as always be safe

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Details surrounding big mid-week powder fest slowly emerging !!

We have yet to completely resolve the missing picture regarding our big midweek event but we gotten considerably closer. At the very least, we have a general sense of how things may play out in terms of timing and we can tighten the range a bit on potential snowfall. In the meantime, Vermont has enjoyed somewhat closer to normal temperatures in the last few days and this should continue for the next few. Interior New England will be in the transition zone, so to speak, between much milder temperatures to the south and a continuation of very cold weather which will continue to dominate much of Quebec through Tuesday. Weaker weather systems Sunday night and Monday night should deposit a few inches of snow. Monday should feature 1-3 inches of new snow at the beginning of the ski day with temperatures inching toward the freezing mark during the long March afternoon thanks to a few glimpses of sunshine. The Tuesday ski day will feature an additional 2-5 inches of snow thanks to a a period of the good stuff Monday night. The daytime hours should again see temperatures either at or above the freezing mark as milder air continues to fight for complete control of Vermont weather.

The battle between warm and cold culminates in the big midweek snow event. The storm begins its progression across the U.S. Sunday and begins to digest polar jet energy late Tuesday into Wednesday. It is this general clash of warm vs cold, moisture from the Pacific storm and polar jet energy which will create the magic. The storm will intensify in the Ohio Valley and track toward the east coast Wednesday night. The critical question relates to the how this storm metabolizes the aforementioned polar jet energy. Its an ingredient we very much need but don't want too much of, since we don't want this storm overwhelmed and suppressed to our south. The European model and its ensembles have locked into a solution that would essentially bring us 2-3 feet of snow Wednesday into Thursday and actually bring some wintry mix into central Vermont during the event. Canadian and American models are now both on board with the event but they show the storms maturation mitigated by the polar jet somewhat. Both of these solutions suggest a more garden variety 6-12 inch event. A compromise of all these solutions works just fine by me and would include a 1-2 foot storm and epic powder day Thursday into Friday. The timing of the snow would include a start time of midday Wednesday with the heaviest snow occurring during the overnight into early Thursday.

Another burst of extremely cold weather follows the storm. It includes temperatures hovering near 10 during the day Thursday along with brutally cold wind chills as the storm is winding down, and sub zero readings Friday morning. The weekend will normalize but there is a legitimate shot at a follow-up storm late in the weekend that could deliver more significant snows prior to "green beer" day. The week of the 17th through the 21st looks chilly to start but potentially somewhat mild to finish. There is some "evil empire" mischief in the Pacific that should result in a thaw across much of the U.S. between the 19th and 23rd of the month but I am not so sure if that mild air is going to reach Vermont for an elongated stretch. It could prove to be a challenge which would be consistent with my thoughts of a very, very gradual arrival of spring.