Another day and another potential storm makes a critical northward shift. Though with this upcoming Wednesday storm, the shift is not as dramatic, the consequences sing a familiar tune including less snow and more sleet and freezing rain. At least the mild weather Monday will give way to a stretch of subfreezing temperatures that should persist through the first full weekend in March. Beyond that, some troubling signs are emerging.
Here is the situation with Wednesday. The storm is a garden variety weather system which will organize Tuesday in the Ohio Valley and head northeastward. Like many of its predecessors, this is a storm that could have provided much of the Vermont ski country with a nice 8-14 but this was predicated on a storm track over central New England. Once again, the forecasted storm track has shifted slightly north so that the center of the storm moves over southern Vermont. It was a subtle and seemingly small shift but we had little room to play with as indicated in the last update. The result still includes a few inches of snow early Wednesday morning followed by a period of sleet and freezing rain around daybreak. The best precipitation with this storm however will be over Quebec and southeast Ontario. From the standpoint of snowfall, it is typically problematic to be too close to the center of central lowest pressure. In the parlance of "weather geek speak" it is the "shaft zone" but the simpler scientific description would be to call it the "dry slot". By midday Wednesday morning, I think much of central Vermont including MRG is precipitation-free. Later in the day, some minimal wrap around moisture could allow for some snowfall but I wouldn't expect much more than an inch. Overall the storm is another dud; 2-5 inches of snow and ice and more ice farther south and more snow farther north.
What is with these northward shifts, they are killing us ? No doubt. Actually sometimes the "northward shift" brings snowfall when we expect nothing. In early March 2001, there was a conventional wisdom in the forecasting community of a big snowstorm for the big east coast cities and partly cloudy for Vermont. 5 days later, northern Vermont was putting the finishing touches on a 50-70 inch dump. This year however, we have seemingly been the focal point for a bunch of argumentative weather situations and about lost every one. The ice-free and relatively warm Great Lakes has been a major problem here. They are pulling some of these weather systems northward and the models are having a tough time resolving all of this until very late in the forecasting game.
The end of the week we will be spat on as another Mid-Atlantic storm deposits snowfall well south of us. This storm could also make a northward jump late, and it may do so, but it would have to move about 300 miles farther north for Vermont to get the good snowfall. Instead, we are expecting dry and cold in the period beginning Thursday and ending Saturday. On Sunday, the polar jet, will start to recede but may deliver one last clipper system before doing to which could result in some snowfall though models don't agree on that as of yet.
What models do agree on now is a March thaw which will commence around March 8th and continue for several days. The European was teasing us with a total capitulation of winter for several days though it has backed off somewhat this morning. What seems likely is that winter makes a substantial retreat and the minimal Vermont snowpack is once again dented. It does seem possible that a stormier pattern emerges by the middle of March with a return to more seasonable temperatures around March 12th-14th but there are no indications of glaring cold weather support. The thaw should peak out around March 10th and 11th and could include readings in the 60's for a day or two.