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Friday, January 10, 2014

Yes, in spite of what will happen over the next 4-5 days, I like how the back two weeks of January look

Lots mild air and some rain is poised to head in our direction. Yes indeed, what a purging this is going to be over the next few days but with conditions remaining on the crusty and thin side, we might as well purge the system and start anew. I am not sure how many truly want the gory details of the mild weather and rain, if not just skip ahead to the next paragraph. After some freezing rain Saturday morning, the rain takes over during the day along with temperatures near or above 45 degrees.  We should see some heavy rain from this system by Saturday evening and the result will be more significant damage to an already thin snowpack. Drier weather and snow flurries will return for Sunday but the airmass is Pacific in origin and temperatures should remain above the freezing mark in many low lying areas (sub freezing at the summits). Spring conditions will then re-emerge for Monday as another round of very mild weather pushes northward, essentially rubbing our noses in it again.

Alright then, I think I covered most of the bad news and most of this we already knew about anyway. One of the lingering questions in the last post was a potential second "warm" system, would it actually exist at all and how much rain would fall. Three days ago models failed to provide any consensus on this question and 72 hours later nothing has changed. That being said, there are some interesting developments that may or may not be good news. This potential second system, at the very least, appears to be a little slower in its arrival. This allows an extra day for the polar air to enter the equation by the middle of the week. An important disclaimer here however, Tuesday is still very mild and if precipitation arrives, it is very likely to begin as a rain and potentially a very warm one. As the polar jet sends its energy southeast Wednesday, it could infuse the storm with some much needed cold air as well as some energy. Lots of details need to be sorted out so its not worth getting into the nuts and bolts of all this too much except to say that some snow is back on the table as a possibility for Wednesday/Thursday. Some of this will be storm related some of this will be of the more terrain-induced variety. It could be a nice accumulation to get us jump started again or it could end up being next to nothing.

Now to the good news. As of late Friday, the ensembles which not entirely sorted through the next 5 days with any consistency, also fail to provide a conclusive indication on the back 2 weeks of January. That being said, I am a strong supporter of the picture painted by the Euro and Canadian ensembles. They both allow a nice looking positive PNA structure to emerge and the Euro in particular allows this connection to the poles. This should close the door on the Pacific air and open the door for east coast amplifications and a storm track that should, in general, favor New England for snow. Its important to note that the American ensemble package does not agree with this assessment but the American is conforming to one of its best known biases which involves progressing the pattern too aggressively. In this case I think, way too aggressively. In short, I think this will prove to be an excellent period for New England ski country although I can't say for sure when our best powder days will be and how long it will take to replenish the ravaged bases of central and northern Vermont. Models have done a very poor job of accurately assessing the southern branch of the jet stream and its influence on the weather map. Again, models are suggesting that much of the snow in past Wednesday January 15th comes either by the way of clipper systems or terrain induced powder (The first such system comes on or just before that weekend of the 17th-18th). Some southern branch involvement could certainly produce a big storm in this pattern and it may be that forecasters will have some trouble finding this storm outside of a 5 or 6 day window.

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