A couple of days away from a reliable internet connection and in that time there was all sorts of rioting amongst forecast models in regards to our late week storm. For once, we have a well organized, maturing southern branch feature, loaded with moisture, poised to move up the eastern seaboard in the midst of an amplified jet pattern. The result will be a very intense, yet compact winter storm. Since the east coast media has become hyper-focused on these storms, there has been a lot of opinions, forecast maps and some crazy proclamations all of which have seemed to change from one day to the next. The expected strong intensity combined with this distinctively compressed personality will make the forecast a challenge particularly along the immediate east coast. For Vermont, however, much of the fogginess in the forecast consensus has cleared and I expect the the best storm of the year, perhaps in 3 years late Thursday into Thursday night.
By Thursday morning, a maturing low pressure center west of Cape Hatteras will spread rain and snow to the Mid-Atlantic and continue tracking toward eastern New England Thursday night. As it does, the storm will continue to deepen, perhaps to 980 mb as it enters the Gulf of Maine early Friday. There will be a very tight corridor of intense snowfall and although some disagreement remains as to what corridor gets this snow, the spine of the Green Mountains is the favored area in my opinion. Snow will begin late in the day Thursday and become very intense during the overnight hours with 2 and 3 inch snowfall rates, and perhaps even some thunder in a few spots. The center of the storm will elongate vertically during the overnight hours and warm, above freezing air will get thrown westward into coastal regions and well into New Hampshire. Low lying areas of Vermont, particularly the Connecticut River valley could see some mixed precipitation, coastal sections of New England will see a change to rain, but the high country of Vermont should just see snow, heavy snow in fact. If the storm wasn't moving at such a brisk clip I would throw out the 2-foot plus forecast but for now lets call it 15-30 by Friday afternoon.
A tightening jet in the Pacific will bring a second yet potent system that will effectively re-amplify the pattern for Saturday. The system will not have much in the way of moisture to work as the core of the upper air impulse moves into West Virginia Friday night; but as it proceeds to the coast, another storm will form and move northeast just off the southern New England coast. The storm will not be strong enough and will not track far enough west for another round of super heavy snow for VT. The large pool of instability associated with this feature however combined with prevailing northwest flow should set the stage of terrain induced snow showers over the mountains. The snow showers should provide a fluffy addition to what should be a very healthy base, perhaps a significant addition of several inches during the day Saturday. Overall the mountain could certainly see one of its beloved 2-3 foot in 3 day type periods, a scenario long overdue for the mountain and well deserved.
Snow showers should continue into Sunday but not quite as intense. Monday, president's day should feature much more in the way of sunshine and great visibility although it will cold cold with temperatures generally in the teens during much of the ski day. Arctic air will retreat somewhat as next week progresses thanks to this aforementioned tightening of the jet stream in the Pacific. There is however one more weather system that is capable of producing some snowy goodness during the middle of next week. The retreating cold will mean that there is some ice risk with this storm but additional snow is likely, at the very least during that Tuesday/Wednesday time frame.
The risk of a thaw goes way up toward the weekend of the 22nd and 23rd. It looks like a short-lived type of thing but there are plenty of better things to think about right now. Enjoy.