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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.

Thursday, March 6, 2014

A little milder for Telefest but questions about a potential "massive storm" have my attention

Sub-zero temps continue to prevail across VT during the overnights, unusual to see so many in consecutive fashion in March. Friday morning should be the last of this and a nearly full day of sunshine should warm temperatures all the way to 35 (a 40 degree rise !). Much of the eastern half of the country will get a needed reprieve from the cold and a chance to thaw some ice and snow. The upper ridge responsible for this spring surge will creep into New England but will be battling it out with a strong polar jet for complete control of the weather in interior locations such as Vermont, New Hampshire and Maine. Temperatures will approach the freezing mark again on Saturday but remain below freezing Sunday thanks to a reenforcing shot of chill. We could see a dusting to perhaps 2 inches of snow Saturday as a disturbance responsible for this chill brings its very limited moisture to the Green Mountains. Overall though Telefest weekend will free of significant storms. Sunshine should be the sunnier of the two days and relatively comfortable.

The upcoming week is a lot more interesting. A pair of smaller disturbances could bring light accumulations of snow both Sunday and Monday nights, perhaps refreshing the mountain a bit for the Monday and Tuesday ski days. A few inches is possible in both of these instances with the most snow occurring north of I89. Then the real fun begins, or so we hope. It is the magnificent merging of a strong southern branch storm with a dynamic influx of polar energy. The result is an all out proverbial fireworks display on the weather map with a storm exploding in the middle Mississippi Valley and advancing east or northeast. The European model and its ensembles have been all over this system for a couple of days with hints of it on some of the other medium range models and more than a hint on the recent Canadian model. There are multiple timing questions and obvious concern about the track of this storm but I am starting to sense the Euro model locking on to this event and I am inclined to believe it will happen, for someone. My concern is the track of this storm. We have talked a few times about how the personality of this winter has been characterized by overwhelming polar jet energy and storm systems that prefer to dump their goodies south of here. This could happen again and there have already been hints of it. Yesterday afternoon's run of the Euro, and the most recent run of the Euro and Canadian are suggesting a hit for Vermont so without getting too optimistic, lets just say we could have worse news. This storm would be the strongest of the year were it to happen, massive amounts of snow and potentially blizzard like conditions around the time frame of late Wednesday into Thursday the 12th and 13th. That's funny, the 21st anniversary of the great Blizzard of 1993 or my "perfect storm".

Cold weather prevails through the following weekend and into St Patrick's Day. After that there are some signs of a tightening jet in the Pacific, perhaps enough to produce some milder temperatures although ensembles have yet to suggest it and have yet to indicate any big thaw through the Spring equinox. I would imagine there is at least another significant weather system in there and maybe two if the stronger Pacific Jet begins to rapid-fire at North America

Monday, March 3, 2014

Happy Town Meeting Day !! Winter isn't done in case you haven't noticed

If your not keeping tabs on the lengthier amount of daylight you would have totally mistaken Monday and Tuesday for January. And it is a far cry from 2012 which only once the entire winter had a day colder than March 3 which saw temps generally in the single numbers all day. Speaking in terms of intensity and duration, this is a very impressive late season outbreak of arctic cold and it may not be the last. As we progress through the next two weeks, there will be a few days here and there where temperatures will eclipse the freezing mark, but there will also be more multi day stretches of below normal temperatures and a very limited amount of time to melt snow, at least across the high-country. In other words, winter has no plans to make a quick exit. This will be a very, very gradual arrival of spring.

We expect a weak zone of overrunning moisture, enhanced by a surface wave to establish itself over interior New England Wednesday and this should bring more clouds and some light snow back to the region. We could see an inch or two Wednesday and Wednesday night but the general impact from this innocent looking feature is to keep Tuesday night and Wednesday night a bit warmer thanks to clouds and prevent temperatures Wednesday from getting to far from 20. Thursday should feature more in the way of sunshine, light winds and near 30-degree temperatures. Our first true above-freezing afternoon of the month will come Friday as March sunshine boosts readings into the mid-30's. With no wind, the warm afternoon sun will make it feel like Key West, FL by 2 PM.

The 39th annual Telemark fest is coming this weekend and there is all sorts of features on the weather map in the 7-day period beginning Saturday the 8th. Between Saturday and Tuesday the 11th, a weak upper air ridge in the southeast U.S. will battle it out with the arctic cold, the core of which will establish itself over eastern Canada. A series of fast moving weather systems have a chance at bringing some fresh snow to the mountain almost every day during this period. Some will probably miss, some will deliver and none are likely to deliver "a lot". The first chance for a light accumulation of snow comes Saturday as a cold front brings a reenforcing area of below normal temperatures. Another compact system Sunday makes a run at New England and may or may not bring its moisture far enough north for some additional snow. On Monday and Tuesday, one or two fast moving disturbances marking another advance of arctic air are likely to deliver at least some snow but specifics remain a little cloudy. A lot to digest there but it's the end result of being in the nexus of airmasses with the fastest jet stream current directly overhead.

There is another chapter in the story since the European Model, along with both the European and Canadian Ensembles all develop a much more significant storm system during the middle of next week. This is a tricky one; since if the personality of the winter to date is any indication, the polar jet in eastern Canada next week will overwhelm the pattern and force the entire storm track southward and thus keeping MRG and surroundings cold and dry from the 12th-14th. There are hints of this already but we have a ways to go yet. Beyond the 14th, the pattern seems content with serving up at least some cold weather, at least enough to prevent much in the way of melting, through St Patrick's Day.