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Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Colder weather on the way but can we get rejevunated ?

Another "corn horn" is sounding through the Single Chair towers as the month turns from February to March. No doubt that "corn" can be nice to ski but the mountain could use some serious rejuvenation if we plan to extend our skiing through much of the upcoming month. Colder weather is certainly on the way but we need the snow as well.

March starts out with another day of excessive warmth. Rainfall forecasts have diminished somewhat in the last few days. I would expect a small amount Tuesday night followed mostly by intermittent showers throughout the day Wednesday into Wednesday evening. Mild breezes will help to efficiently mix out the atmospheric warmth and push temperatures well into the 50's. Though we were turn dramatically colder by Thursday, the wave of low pressure that I was hoping would help deposit some snowfall on the northern half of Vermont is not materializing quite as I had hoped. The snowfall will happen but most of it falls over Quebec north of the St Lawrence River. What is further insulting is the vigorous jet stream short wave that will pass well to the regions south Thursday night and Friday bringing snowfall to areas such as Washington D.C.; a place already seeing an early start to another growing season even a few cherry blossoms. The jet stream feature responsible for Mid-Atlantic snow will also rob the region of some of the potential low level instability. We will see some snow showers Thursday that will amount to a few inches along with temperatures hovering in the high 20's. Friday will only feature flurries however, along with substantial amounts of sunshine. Temperatures Friday may struggle to get into the low 20's along with strong winds.

As promised, we will have a wintry weekend. Saturday will be the chilliest day (and blustery) since early February with temperatures starting below zero and only reaching the teens during the afternoon in spite of more sunshine. Bit and pieces of some of the intense storminess in British Columbia will then begin to travel in our direction. One rather small piece will bring clouds and some snow later in the day Sunday or Sunday night. This rather putrid looking storm system may be our most definite chance for snowfall in the near term. Though we could see a 3-6 inch event, the storm will also bring with it a push of warmer air and temperatures are expected to moderate somewhat Monday and Tuesday.

This brings us to the questions relating to our more significant Tuesday system. This is the more significant part of the British Columbia stormy onslaught and there are certainly concerns that this low pressure will become too wrapped up and amplified too early. That said, the storm could also amplify, occlude and arrive in a weakened state on Tuesday March 7th. Though this would remove the possibility of a 2-foot snowfall, it would also thwart the possibility of another big mild surge of air. An occluded storm also brings with it a healthy pool of instability which could set the stage for terrain enhanced snowfall on Wednesday and Thursday of next week. I am inclined to think this is the most likely scenario for next week. Mixed bag of precip Tuesday and then snow and winter-like temperatures Wednesday and Thursday.

Colder air should remain in place through at least March 10 and then long range indications are mixed. Milder air is expected to again dominate the middle part of the United States but parts of the northeast could remain mostly wintry through the middle of the month.

Sunday, February 26, 2017

More rain in the days ahead but March 2nd - March 14th look mostly wintry

I owe the SCWB community a bit of a"Mea Culpa" for the "heated" meltdown we just experienced. Yes, yes, I predicted both some mild weather and some rain but certainly did not expect such a historic run of temperatures. We saw plenty of sunshine when more clouds were expected and the mild breezes effectively mixed down some of the excessive atmospheric warmth that many of the models had suggested would remain aloft. 4 consecutive days of 50-plus temperatures is astonishing in late February for the Mad River Valley and would probably be more so were it not for the fact that we experienced a similar run of temperatures in early March last year and an even more anomalous stretch of weather in March of 2012. I hesitate to use the word "unprecedented" because our recorded history is very short relative to a span of geological time but a few generations of data was blown out of the water across the entire eastern seaboard including Vermont.

All that is over for the time being but an event as anomalous as that is apparently worthy of an "aftershock" and we will get one during the middle of this week. Clouds will advance into the region Monday night and though the region might see a brief period of snow very early Tuesday, most of the day will feature gradually rising temperatures which will set the stage for multiple periods of rain. One which should hit Tuesday night with temperatures in the high 30's and another milder rain later on Wednesday with temperatures well into the 40's. This system is a strong one and is expected to continue to strengthen as it moves off into the Canadian Maritimes. A wave of low pressure along the storms associated cold front is the feature that might bring snow to the mountain very early Thursday. Models have been waffling around regarding snow amounts from this particular feature and the overall prevalence of this feature. For the time being, I am still willing to suggest that 6 or more inches of snow is possible early Thursday but models have moved away from this scenario as of late Sunday.

Although we are experiencing delays in the long expected return of winter, a return is still expected. Some decent, though not overwhelming fundamentals should also ensure that it should remain in place for a period of at least 10 days beginning March 2nd.  We should see some fresh snow from a clipper-type system during the first weekend in March but a more significant weather system should impact the region during the March 6th -7th time frame. This system is a product of some of the intense storminess that is expected late this week and over the weekend over British Columbia. If the system in question over-amplifies in the middle of the country it could suck some mild air into the region but unlike the recent stretch of weather, we have some available cold air and a somewhat negative NAO. These ingredients could provide some fireworks and even a less than ideal scenario could result in some significant new snow. Beyond March 7th, I think we can expect at least another week of wintry-like conditions. I understand that the damage to the mountain has been rather substantial and that it will take substantial snows to restore conditions to prime form. Its possible for sure but we do need to catch a few breaks which may be asking a lot at this point in the season.

Friday, February 24, 2017

Winter getting closer to a full return follwing extended thaw

The corn horn has been echoing through the Vermont high country this week as temperatures have surged and in almost every case, bested expectations. Valley locations saw 60-degree readings and the hills saw readings surge into the 50's. If you like the warm, soft snow, you basically have one more solid day to enjoy it Saturday. We have weather system approaching and this will bring a very well-defined line of rain, perhaps even a thunderstorm to the region but the ski day is expected to remain mostly dry with the exception of a few sprinkles. Strong southerly breezes will help push temperatures into the 50's again.

I expect a quick half inch of rain Saturday night beginning within a few hours of 8 pm. Interestingly, the latest model data has trended a bit toward a more anafrontal system which means the incoming cold will undercut the area of moisture. This will allow for a brief window where snow is possible starting around midnight and persisting for 1-3 hours. 1-2 inches  of snow and a return to sub-freezing temperatures will greet the Mad River Valley Sunday morning but temperatures should again climb above freezing in low lying areas as the cold weather isn't particularly intense. At the summits, I'd expect temperatures to remain below freezing throughout Sunday and this will certainly make a difference regarding the condition of the snow above 3000 feet.

Beyond Sunday, the outlook has trended more wintry and the period beginning March 2nd through around March 12th looks especially intriguing. I was reviewing Arctic Oscillation (AO) data through the early part of the season and noticed that since December 1, there has been only 1 period where the index went negative. It explains the lack of mid-latitude cold especially across the southern part of the United States. The only period where the index went negative was during 10 days in the early to middle part of this month during the period where the mountain received its multiple feet of snow. The second such period is likely to begin in early March and persist another 10 days or so. This will for a time be combined with the dip in the EPO (which is not expected to last) and the establishment of a nice blocking feature that appears fairly broad over the Bering Sea area. Winter will thus make a return to Vermont and I expect things to get exciting for a time.

Interestingly, the storm I have been especially disappointed with for several days. The one expected to consolidate over the Rockies early next week does not look nearly as organized or as consolidated on the models today. This means that the recent spring-fest might be over and sooner than expected with no return to excessive temperatures around the changing of the month. Precipitation could arrive as some snow on Tuesday February 28th although temperatures are likely only capable of supporting wet snow. Most of the model data does show a mixed bag of precipitation and even some rain before precipitation ends during the day Wednesday but this is a drastic improvement over what appeared to be another round of 50 degree temperatures and rain which was shown two days ago.

Colder and more legitimate arctic air is then expected to filter into the region by later in the week and that's when things could get interesting. The pattern is expected to remain relatively stormy thanks to  a multitude of intense looking systems that will impact British Columbia. These storms, and I expect there to be a few of them, will cross the Canadian Rockies and encounter the presence of the polar jet. Things could go array with one of these storms and warm Atlantic Ocean air might ruin a nice end game but if this happens at all, I'd expect it to be isolated to one event. What appears more likely right now is for some East Coast fireworks and a big snow producing system, at least one and maybe more, sometime in the time frame between March 2nd and 12th. Models are painting a variety of pictures on how it all might play out but lets just keep it simple and say that that there are multiple storm possibilities and expand on details later this weekend.

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Early March could bring some excitement but we aren't out of the woods yet

With the help of some sunshine on Wednesday, temperatures have surged even higher than was expected. Good news if you like the soft corn, which we should have plenty of over the next few days but we are certainly not expecting any new snow in the short term. Thursday should again see temperatures soar but there should be more clouds and there could be a brief period of light rain later in the day.

As everyone is quite aware by now, our big weather system over the next few days approaches Saturday. Though we will see some more light rain or drizzle with impaired visibility Friday, most of the rain will come in one relatively well defined period after the ski day on Saturday. This means that the actual ski day will feature some pretty decent weather, especially if you like it very warm. The lower part of the troposphere is actually expected to mix out which will allow for some sunshine, very mild breezes and excessive temperatures for the season. Forecasts show readings in the low 50's, if you are watching your smart phone but with a little sun and a little wind, readings could approach 60 at the base. Needless to say, it will be an excellent spring skiing kind of day. The rain then arrives late in the evening and may fall somewhat heavily for a short time before colder air returns for Sunday.  Snow flurries are expected to accompany the colder air but accumulations are likely to be limited to an inch or two.

On Tuesday I certainly conveyed my frustration with this evolving weather pattern and it continues today. Though we expect a bit of cold for the early part of the week, it doesn't appear as if a sustained period of winter-like weather begins at least yet. A massive winter storm will hit the Rockies during the Monday and Tuesday time frame and because the jet stream became so amplified as a result of this weather system, it will allow mild air to take another run at the region by later in the week. There have been some hints that a piece of the Rocky Mountain system brings some limited snowfall to the region on Monday night or Tuesday but don't expect this to be our savior. What appears more likely is that some wintry precipitation arrives Tuesday night or Wednesday and then another onslaught of above freezing temperatures allows for another period of rain. Fortunately, this period of warm weather appears short-lived and colder air will again encompass the Vermont high country by later Thursday.

In spite of the less than ideal 7-day outlook, there are some encouraging signs regarding the overall weather pattern. Whether or not some of these developments can actually result in another sustained period of great skiing remains a big question. By early March, we are certainly going to see a drastically weakened jet stream in the Pacific which is measured by an EPO index that will be decidedly negative. Tag team this with a large ridge and for at least a short time in early March, a full scale blocking feature over the Bering Sea. We saw a similar type feature form in early December and the mountain got clocked with 4 feet of snow. In that particular case, the forecast suggested the high latitude block might situate itself over the Bering Sea and it ended up farther east over Alaska. That difference allowed much of Vermont to stay on the cold side of what turned into a rather striking north-south batttlezone of airmasses. This situation appears to have some similarities. The pattern will fully support a large amount of cold across the United States but a block across the Bering Sea certainly allows for the possibility of some warm air along the east coast.

It all boils down to what should be an interesting first half of March. I can't guarantee we will be on the right side of all the action (we could actually get another snow to rain situation) but we should see some cold, some storminess and if things break right, the mountain could certainly receive a good storm and multiple powder days.

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Frustrating stretch of winter weather may continue thorugh part of next week

This has officially evolved into the kind of weather pattern I just outright despise. We have a bunch of warm days and a substantial amount of rain over the next few days. Yes colder weather does follow but the forecast data seems hellbent on creating an over-amplified negative PNA pattern which is fantastic if you ski in the west but not so much for the east.

Vermont managed to get a 36 hour reprieve from the thaw but temperatures have moved past the freezing mark as of midday Tuesday and for much of the rest of the week they will stay there. Specifically speaking,  Wednesday is primarily dry though cloudy with temperatures rising from near the freezing mark to near 40, Thursday we should expect to see more clouds with temperatures hovering near 40 and Friday the mild air will get an additional northward push and that process will allow for more clouds and some potential rain. Saturday appears to be a potential blowtorch with a sizable weather system tracking well into Quebec. Temperatures will soar into the 50's and a period heavier rain, even potentially a thunderstorm could impact parts of the state.

The forecast discussed in the previous forecast is certainly disappointing but not that surprising. We more or less knew this was going to be a rough stretch, we were simply hoping to merely minimize the bad. The most frustrating part of the outlook going forward lies beyond Saturday. Over the weekend and in spite of our rain, the jet stream in the Pacific will weaken quite substantially and by early next week, a large ridge and quite possibly even a blocking feature will develop in the Bering Sea. This should allow arctic air to move south toward much of middle latitude North America and it will, but much of it will attack the western United States as a storm is expected to amplify across the Rocky Mountains and bring widespread amounts of snow to western ski areas. This allows an upper level ridge in the western Atlantic Ocean to have a negative influence on our winter weather. The storm in the Rockies will move out over plains by around Tuesday and head toward New England. There will be a supply of cold air but an over amplified system in the plains will make it difficult to retain any of this cold. Snow and mixed precipitation would give way to move above-freezing temperatures and rain in such a scenario. We have to hope that the system doesn't consolidate across the west as is the current indication. It this happens the outlook for next week would improve dramatically.

Beyond the middle part of next week and into the early part of March, the negative EPO will continue to allow arctic air to have an influence over the region. But all of the major ensembles also continue to show repeated jet amplifications over the west and this is illustrated by the PNA outlook which is negative from day 5 to day 14. This is great news for the west as we head toward March but the bigger the storms are out in Colorado, Utah, Wyoming and Idaho, the worse our forecast will turn out to be. If some of these potential storms turn out to be weaker and a bit more disorganized, our forecast will get better.

Saturday, February 18, 2017

Tough stretch over the next week, but don't throw in the towel on winter yet

Yes, all good things must come to an end. 5 feet of snow in 3 weeks with a tiny bit of mixed precipitation in between is a welcomed event in any season. Temperatures have soared beyond the freezing mark early during the President's Day holiday and it marks the beginning of what we expect to be a rougher stretch of weather. I am hoping it only lasts a week, but the duration of our latest round of skiing adversity is the biggest weather question today.

A weak weather system will pass well to the mountains north on Sunday and do so rather innocuously.  That's a good thing because we lack the temperatures to support any snowfall as we will see another day with above freezing readings. Fortunately, this weather feature does have an accompanying cold front and this will usher in some cold Canadian air. New England will be the lone spot receiving any dose of winter from this as the rest of the eastern half of the country will continue the 2017 February mild-fest. Can't promise any snowfall for Monday or Tuesday, but temperatures will mostly be sub-freezing until late Tuesday afternoon when low lying areas may again top out in the middle to high 30's.

The culprit for the widespread warmth is another round of big time storminess that has already begun in earnest way out west. If you have been watching the news, you might have heard of flash flooding, mudslides and sinkholes in and around L.A. and San Diego. This level of storminess in the Pacific is often not a good thing (unless we get big time split flow) for winter in New England. The storminess will keep its distance from us for a time but by early Wednesday, we could finally see some light precipitation. We don't have the cold air to support any snow so we will probably just see some very light rain or freezing rain in a few spots Tuesday Night or Wednesday.

Another piece of Pacific stormy onslaught comes Thursday and again may spread some light rain into Vermont with temperatures generally in the high 30's. There is a minimal amount of arctic air available behind Thursday's weaker system and it remains a critical question how much of this we can tap into. Models have not been suggesting that mother nature is in the mood to dole out any favors but it's not a impossible scenario. That said, models have not been trending in our direction for what appears to be a stormier period between Friday February 24 and Sunday February 26h. In that time frame, a stronger storm system tracks from the eastern Rockies up through the central Great Lakes and eventually deep into Quebec. Models have over-advertised mild pushes in the past this year and I sure hope to god they are doing it again. If not, we are going to receive a round of rain and temperatures as high as 50 including 36-48 hours of well above freezing temperatures.

After Sunday, there is some better news stemming mostly from a large weakening of the jet stream in the Pacific Ocean and a rather assertive push by the EPO into negative territory. Limited blocking is expected to develop in coordination with all of this over the Bering Sea and parts of Alaska. This will allow Arctic air to make a late February return to the central United States. Some of this chill will make it to Vermont behind our potentially rainy system on Monday February 27th. All this is good news but ensembles right now have outright refused to eliminate the upper air ridging in the extreme western Atlantic. The suggestion right now is to have this pesky ridging thwart what could be the start of another nice stretch of winter for MRG and surroundings. There are hints of a follow up storm right around the turning of February into March but the aforementioned ridging in the jet stream could prove problematic.

For those ready to throw in the towel on winter, I wouldn't advise it. Even when the ensembles take a bad turn and produce a sour looking outlook, just wait two days and they tend to reverse. The negative EPO should above all else prove to be quite beneficial. It may just take some time to reap the rewards of this change.

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Powdery Thursday and a slightly improved longer range outlook in spite of some milder weather

The Manitoba Mauler has spread very light snow into Vermont as of Wednesday afternoon. Models have finally forged a truce on this storm after arguing for days over subtle nuances. The bulk of the snow falls this evening, tonight and early Thursday as the system becomes better organized and strengthens into a poor man's nor'easter. Terrain will provide some assistance to snowfall totals as well, so I continue to expect some healthy 6-12 inch accumulations at MRG and some fantastic skiing on the mountain Thursday and Friday. The added snow Wednesday night and Thursday will pull the cumulative 3-week total to over 5 feet. Yeah we've had some mixed precipitation and ice in between but it's been an outstanding stretch.

Adversity is never far away in many Vermont winters and unfortunately a little bit of that confronts us now for the upcoming holiday week. Temperatures on Saturday will start in the single numbers but the higher angled February sun and a push of mild air will move temperatures toward the freezing mark. On Sunday, much of the day will feature above freezing temperatures but fortunately no rain.

A series of powerful Pacific weather systems is largely responsible for the milder temperatures in Vermont. Yet again however, interior New England is going to avoid the unmitigated blowtorch and the record-breaking warmth which has impacted a good portion of the central and eastern United States both last month and early this February. After Sunday, the jet stream will provide the region with just enough of a northwest to southeast trajectory to keep temperatures at least somewhat winter-like. By that I mean, low temperatures in the 20's and high temperatures Monday and Tuesday in the 30's. A couple of blog posts have highlighted the possibility of an intense mid to late week storm and that part of the outlook needs to be adjusted somewhat. One to two smaller pieces of some of the Pacific storminess will head towards New England Tuesday and spread a variety of precipitation types. The Euro has hinted that some of this could be snow while other models paint a somewhat rainier or icier scenario.

The possibility of a bigger storm has been pushed back toward later in the week and into the weekend. Any such storm would encounter the same challenges from a snow standpoint. There is no available cold air through the middle to late week period. That said, the jet stream in the Pacific will quiet down and allow this storm to pull in some colder temperatures and certainly allows for the possibility of a rain to snow  or a mixed precipitation to snow scenario over the weekend period of Friday February 24th to Sunday February 26th. For you model watchers out there, I know there have been some warmer scenarios shown with this storm but I would not give up on it, there is certainly a chance for a decent hit across interior New England by the end of the last weekend in February.

The longer range outlook has continued its tradition of oscillating back and forth beyond 12 days. It didn't look particularly great two days ago, it looks much better today beyond February 26th. Both ensembles have trended toward a much more negative EPO toward the end of the month which allows for the southward migration of cold toward the mid-attitudes.  All of this is vital as we move toward March and try to keep winter in play for as long as possible. 

Monday, February 13, 2017

Round 2 Wednesday/Thursday will bring additional snowfall but won't duplicate or exceed the Sunday/Monday totals

Our recent nor'easter was a winner for the state of Vermont and big winner for Mad River Glen as one of the few ski areas to spin its major lifts on what was a very blustery Monday. The winds will subside, visibility should improve and the sun may make a brief appearance on Valentines Day. This Valentines Day marks the 10 year anniversary of one of the best storms in the history of the coop and certainly the best in the now 12 year history of the blog. The number 1 storm in the history of the coop is probably the early March 2001 storm, but I'll defer the anointing of that title to others that may have had the fortune to ski during all those storms.

No such storm appears to be in the cards as a follow-up act on Wednesday and Thursday. That said, we didn't miss a big one by much and it appears likely that some healthy additional snows are on the way. The Manitoba Mauler will provide most of the action as it drops through the eastern Great Lakes. Snow should begin by daybreak Wednesday and continue throughout most of the ski day at a mostly light but occasionally moderate clip. This weather system will get an infusion of subtropical moisture, albeit later than we wanted, and this will cause the storm to "mini-bomb" in the Gulf of Maine. Yes, this will consolidate the snowfall once again to coastal Maine but it will also allow for an elongated period of snow across the Vermont high country both Wednesday night and Thursday. I've been suggesting a 4-8 outcome, but as of late Monday evening I think we can put this into the 6-12 category over the two day period with 3-6 inches being the range for each individual day. The American GFS model is the solution suggesting lesser amounts but it appears to be outlier mainly because it has the track of the storm farther north.

The chilly subfreezing temperatures should continue to prevail across most of the state through Saturday. Thursday appears to be the blustery day accompanied by the aforementioned snowfall and Friday and Saturday look to feature better visibility and less winds. There has been some concern expressed about a warming trend that would have us stuck with a few days of above-freezing temperatures. A tremendous amount of jet energy in the eastern Pacific will consolidate just off the West Coast and this will try and force the jet stream northward downstream. Models are suggesting one of those above-freezing days, the first, could come Sunday. Fortunately, jet stream amplification downstream of New England is now expected to mitigate some of the mild push. Sunday, looks relatively mild with temperatures well into the 30's, but the President's Day holiday and Tuesday both look chillier with temperatures well below freezing at night and only climbing to 30 during the day. The snow outlook between this upcoming Saturday (Feb 18) and Tuesday (Feb 21) looks rather bearish, as in hardly any, but I've been wrong before about such prognostications of zero snow so stay tuned.

As the holiday week progresses, there are continued signs that storminess might impact a broad portion of both the Midwest and Northeast United States. This happens however with very little cold air however and most places are likely to see rain as a result. As the week progresses into Thursday and Friday, cold air is likely to become more available and snowfall is possible. The pattern doesn't look entirely great however for the end of the month I am sorry to report. Not cataclysmic by any stretch but the absence of any high latitude blocking to provide eastern North America with cold weather is a little concerning. As I have mentioned previously, the outlook beyond 12 days has been especially difficult to decipher this year so if we don't like the long range outlook today, lets wait a few days and hope it improves.

Saturday, February 11, 2017

Bombing storm in Gulf of Maine to deliver 12-16 to MRG Sunday/Monday and more is likely later in week

Game on indeed ! Though we've been a bit of a red-headed step-child throughout 2016, Vermont will, for a few days, assume the role of mother nature's favorite son. Nothing wrong with a little favoritism when it comes to snow. We are locked into one storm Sunday/Monday and the potential for another substantial snow producer remains for Wednesday/Thursday.

Winter's grip on Vermont has held firm and while much of  the rest of the U.S. east coast is experiencing spring-like warmth Saturday and Sunday, the snow continues to fall in the Green Mountains and temperatures are well below freezing. The clashing airmasses will help fuel our first big snow producer. The low pressure center will intensify as it travels near the Mason-Dixon line Sunday and merge with an incoming clipper system Sunday evening as it approaches Cape Cod. The merging of the two storms creates the "bombs away" scenario in the Gulf of Maine as the storm will deepen to 980 mb or less before exiting stage right into the Canadian Maritimes.

The storm will be a colossal hit for the Maine coast where 18-30 inches along with near blizzard like conditions can be expected. For us Vermonters and specifically for us MRG skiers, we can expect snow to begin around 1 PM Sunday and become rather steady by the end of the ski day. I think 2-4 inches is about the most we can hope for in those late day hours on Sunday but the snow should continue through the evening and into the night at varying rates. The big question in these type of events relates to the frontogenetic forcing which clearly appears to be the best in the area from New Hampshire to the Maine coast based on model data. Excuse the frontogenetic lingo, but many times the "lack thereof" can result in the dry slots or precipitation lull's that can hold accumulations on the lower end. Though we aren't likely to see the heaviest precipitation from this storm, it looks like most of Vermont is in a relatively good position from the standpoint of frontogenetics. Southern Vermont, western Mass and appear more likely to get impacted by this. Accumulations should approach 1 foot by Monday morning and a few additional inches during the morning should move our storm total into the 12-16 category. Winds will whipping through much of the night and into Monday and though temperatures should remain in the powdery 22-28 zone Sunday and Sunday night, snow will get a bit wind packed by Monday. The winds will however switch to a more northerly direction Monday which drastically reduces the risk of wind holds on the single based on my experience only. That opinion is my own however and not necessarily reflective of the views held by MRG or anyone that works there.

Moving along, Tuesday appears like a very tranquil winter day with much lighter winds, relatively good visibility and perhaps even a period of sunshine. While we bask in our snow-blanketed tranquility, two weather systems, one near the Gulf Coast and another "Manitoba Mauler" will have to decide whether or not they want to play in the sandbox together on Wednesday/Thursday. The sub-tropical jet has been a tricky one to figure this year. With the Super Nino gone, it goes as no surprise that this portion of the jet stream has lost much of its influence but it hasn't vanished completely. The eastern Pacific Ocean equatorial regions have also remained warm and may have had an impact this. Anyway, models remain in disagreement about the handling of these two systems. The European ECMWF is for the dreamers. The two systems do indeed have some fun in the sandbox and Mad River Glen gets another significant snow. Most of the data holds the subtropical feature to the south and west and allows for no such fun. Even in this scenario, the Manitoba Mauler would deliver some additional snow Wednesday and Wednesday night followed by some terrain enhanced snow Thursday and Friday

I've been dragging on long enough in this update but the longer range outlook still consists of a period of milder weather beginning around the President's Day holiday and persisting through a chunk of the holiday week. A storm sometime around the middle part of that week is possible and this could be some sort of rain to snow situation. I would expect some above freezing temperatures between the 20-22nd at least following what should be a fantastic upcoming 7-day stretch.

Thursday, February 9, 2017

Big snow event Sunday/Monday highlights a potentially epic week

Winter is back after the brief hiatus Wednesday and it looks like another decent stretch of sub-freezing temperatures along with LOTS of snow potential.  Details are coming into view but at a very slow pace. In summary, we have some snow this Saturday, we have an excellent chance for a significant snow Sunday/Monday and a chance for another significant storm later in the week. It doesn't get much better than that over a span of a week.

Some serious chill is gripping the region and the airmass responsible will bring temperatures below zero Friday morning and keep temperatures near zero during the day along with snow flurries. While Vermont is in the deep freeze however, mild air will be pushing east and attempt to displace the cold weather we are currently experiencing. This attempt will be a failure I am happy to report; instead, the clashing airmasses will create a nice overrunning surface to support an outbreak of light snow which should provide a light accumulation of 1-3 inches. Temperatures will climb into the 20's Saturday but will be substantially colder than the 60-degree readings a couple hundred miles farther south.

The overrunning surface and temperature boundary discussed above will lay the ground work for what will ultimately evolve into a significant storm system. It will begin to take shape in the Central Plains on Saturday and advance toward New York State Sunday, intensifying as it does so. By Monday, several models, including successive runs of the European are showing "bombs-away" in the Gulf of Maine. The track of this storm has not yet been completely fine-tuned as of yet and I would like to see one more round of upper air data confirm the "bombs away" scenario. That said, what a scenario it would be. Substantial snow would develop during the day Sunday and would continue into Monday accompanied by strong winds. The snow would be of the 1-2 foot variety and produce some epic albeit wind-blown powder. So yes, get yourself excited, but temper that enthusiasm for another 24 hours or so and let all the data confirm or not confirm the potential results.

Any snow moves out by Tuesday leaving us with average temperatures. As the week progresses though the pattern will prepare for another amplification that could involve the merging of a clipper system and one sub-tropical system. It is also possible that no such merging occurs and models continue to suggest a bunch of different outcomes. The clipper system itself is capable of delivering some additional snowfall Wednesday and this is followed by colder weather and a period where terrain enhanced snowfall is likely Thursday into Friday.

In the longer range, solutions continue to oscillate somewhat. There certainly appears to be a troubling period 2-3 day period that is emerging which begins around the President's Day holiday and ends during the middle of the week.  This happens as the EPO turns more favorable for us but the Pacific jet energy responsible for the brief EPO surge will push the jet northward across eastern North America briefly. Interestingly, both major ensembles indicate a massive weather system which will have little cold air support initially but will ultimately result in a major pattern amplification that could eventually result in substantial snowfall in many places even if these "many places" see rain initially. This is way out on the forecast timeline around time frame of February 22, 23 and 24th so I am sure we will see prognostications change a few times before a solution is ironed out.

For now lets hope for big things from Sunday/Monday. It looks increasingly good and I think we are one good round of model data away from "game-on" mode.

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

So much to covery today and most of it is very encouraging for us Vermont skiers

Tuesday ends a glorious 12-day stretch of weather which included over 3-feet of powder at MRG. The freezing rain Tuesday night puts a stop to that unfortunately. We can expect approximately a quarter to a half an inch of glaze as temperatures warm toward the freezing mark. Plain rain is possible for a brief period around daybreak Wednesday but most of the precipitation will be over and done with as temperatures cross the "freezing" threshold and approach 40 Wednesday. We can expect 5-10 hours of above freezing temperatures Wednesday depending on where on the mountain you're keeping score. Snow flurries will return Wednesday night along with temperatures that will plummet into the teens. 

An upper level impulse in the jet stream is going to ignite what will become a big east coast snow event on Thursday, the biggest of the season so far for all of southern New England. The storm will take shape as an anafrontal wave initially Wednesday night but evolve in to a significant low pressure system as it encounters the relative warmth of the Atlantic Ocean early Thursday. Heavy snow (and some rain over SE Mass and the Cape) will persist through much of the day and the thinking for a time was that this snow would not make it into central and northern Vermont but this thinking is getting a challenged as of Tuesday afternoon. MRG is likely to taste the northern edge of this wintry weather system and receive a 1-3 inches of snow while considerably higher amounts fall further south. Friday will be a mostly snow-free day but very cold, one of the coldest days in a month actually with readings starting the day below zero and struggling to get past 5 degrees during the day. 
The upcoming weekend had significant questions a few days ago and we hope to answer all of these in a mostly positive way. Much of the eastern United States, as expected, will see a big push of mild weather and much above normal temperatures both Saturday and Sunday. Can this mild air bully its way into New England however. A "yes" answer would have meant some spring-like skiing for a day, a "nay" answer means new snow. I am relatively confident as of Tuesday afternoon that the "nays" have it. The mild push will mostly fail in its attempt to reach Vermont but will instead provide the necessary overrunning surface for new snow either Friday night or during the day Saturday. I can't promise a ton of new snow, but a few inches is certainly better than 45 degrees and slush. A storm system is also expected to impact the region during the day on Sunday. Cold air will have a very tenuous grip on the region by then, but it may have just enough of a grip to keep temperatures cold enough for snow or a snow/sleet mixture. 
Beyond the weekend, we got have lots of interesting details that need to be resolved. Generally speaking however we have seen some fundamental changes in the outlook over the past two days that are very positive for us Vermont skiers going forward through the end of the month of February. I'll summarize them bullet-point style here. 
1) The emergence of split flow in the jet stream over the next week which will include an active southern branch of sub-tropical jet stream. This should begin manifesting itself in about a week's time but should help keep things very interesting from the middle of the month forward. 
2) The decisive turn of the NAO and AO into negative territory. We will see the polar jet recede this weekend but the aforementioned indices will help allow the cold air to return for time by around the 15tth-16th of the month. 
3) The EPO which had turned adversely positive and will be so through the weekend, will return to neutral and perhaps even go negative in two weeks. 
Though some of this was mentioned two days ago, the ensemble data is more decisive today. The details beyond a week still look a bit cloudy however. We might have some snow on the backside of Sunday's system if we are provided with some low-level instability capable of putting our upslope machine into action. The middle part of the week might see some snow from a small disturbance but the real question surrounds a potential system later in the week. This would be the first stemming from the more active southern branch and could quite possibly turn into a big event or could be nothing. The indices mentioned above should help the holiday weekend be wintry however and this is a significant change and a much needed one, relative to how we looked 2 days ago. It's a good lesson also to not overweight ensemble data beyond about 12 days particularly this year. There have been a few big false alarms both on the warm and cold side over the past two months. 

Sunday, February 5, 2017

Outlook slips back into the mediocre category but Tuesday looks powdery

Some good news regarding Tuesday but the overall outlook for the next two weeks is not quite as promising. I wouldn't call it a "bad" outlook right now but it certainly has dropped back into the mediocre category since we last discussed. A minimal amount of snow around the time of the Super Bowl is unlikely to do much better than an inch. Higher amounts are possible near the Canadian Border. The storm will help to reinforce and reestablish a fortress of cold air on Monday and we will need every bit of it to combat what looks to be a less than ideal storm track Tuesday/Wednesday.

There was some twitter discussion this morning regarding some of the higher resolution model output which has our storm in question tracking much farther south and in doing so keeping northern Vermont below freezing and most of our precipitation snow. The high resolution model output can help us with some important details but when the data provides us with an outlying solution more than 48 hours past its initialization, I get suspicious. That said, models haven't quite come to a complete consensus on the track of this storm with the European model seemingly carving out the middle ground by having the system track just northwest of the St Lawrence Valley. Our best news stems from the fact that in spite of the less than ideal track, the overrunning surface out ahead of the storm looks terrific and will help to establish a conveyor of moisture that will allow for snow for much of the day Tuesday. Snow is not indicated to be particularly heavy, but temperatures should stay in the 20's and snow should be persistent enough to produce 4-6 inches, much of it falling during the ski day. Late on Tuesday evening, the atmosphere doesn't appear capable of sustaining snow given the storm track, precipitation should go to a period of freezing rain with some sleet mixed in. When temperatures climb above freezing mark, as they are expected to do Wednesday, most of the precipitation should be over and colder arctic air will then displace the mild weather Wednesday night accompanied by flurries. Models have unfortunately trended away from any wrap-around or terrain enhanced snow Wednesday night and Thursday but this system overall is unlikely to do any substantial damage to the base, but we will have the unwanted icy glaze.

One big reason for the lack of wrap-around terrain enhanced snow in the forecast for Thursday is the possibility of what appears to be an anafrontal wave which is expected to form over the Carolinas and Virginia. This feature will bring the possibility of a wet snow to the I95 corridor but will have the effect of removing instability from areas farther north. This kind of thing has happened a lot in recent years but not so much this year and we have thus seen excellent amounts of terrain enhanced snow.

Cold weather and well below freezing temperatures will prevail on the mountain later in the week in spite of the less snowy forecast. For the weekend of February 11th and 12th however, the outlook looks milder and somewhat more troubling. A PNA ridge is expected to temporarily form by the 12th which is a net-positive but as it does so, a wave of mild air will push across the country from west to east. New England stands the best chance to avoid the mild weather and if we remain on the north side of the mild push, we could receive some new snowfall for the upcoming weekend in question.

Arctic air should reemerge on to the scene by around the time of February 13th and we could see some snow associated with its return. The large ridge in western North America which is the culprit behind the PNA surge will be short-lived and that unfortunately has been a pattern we have seen repeatedly this year. Storminess in the Pacific will ultimately break down the dome of stability in western North America and the weather map is thus expected to look very different by the time of the Presidents Day holiday weekend. For us east coast skiing loyalists, we can expect cold weather and the possibility for snow through about Thursday February 16th, after that the pattern looks milder again. This remains way out on the horizon and ensembles have not displayed a tremendous amount of skill this winter predicting out that far so lets see how things look in a few days.

Friday, February 3, 2017

We are killling it now and it would sure nice if our Tuesday/Wednesday storm would cooperate

With the "fast 5" that Brian at the mid-station reported early Friday (add  additional inches to that as the day progressed), Mad River has blown through its snow totals from 2015-2016. What a spectacular week and a winter that has turned out to be incredibly shaped by elevation. Low lying areas haven't performed particularly well, failing to receive the orographic enhanced snowfall and not performing particularly well on the few winter storms the region has seen. The high country, particularly in northern Vermont has done quite well and is on track for a  decent winter. We need to freeze and provide some cover for some of those backcountry brooks but I went into this season as a beggar so I won't be a chooser.

With some additional snow expected Friday evening, Saturday is shaping to be another fantastic one. Imagine that, two Saturday's in a row ! I nearly broke down and referred to last Saturday's powder fest as an "Alt-Saturday" but lets not go down that road. Saturday we can expect some flurries but high pressure is likely to prevent additional big accumulations although I am sure there will be plenty of stashes. Sunday may feature some early peaks of sunshine but clouds should overspread the region and some light snow should begin following  by evening. This storm is looking less and less impressive with time and I am doubtful now that it will produce a big powder day Monday. A fluffy 1-2 inches might be the best we can do. Temperatures will be chilly this weekend but generally seasonable with teens expected Saturday and 20's Sunday. Neither day is expected to be especially windy.

Our Tuesday/Wednesday event is the biggest storm on the forecast horizon right now. Models have shifted the track of this storm just slightly north again with a track that has much of its energy consolidating over the Central Plains late Monday and heading to southern Michigan Tuesday and ultimately up into the St Lawrence Valley or perhaps even north of there. Monday's weak-sauce of a storm will bring a small reinforcing shot of cold prior to the arrival of the bigger system but we still need some help on the storm track. We remain in the game for this, if the storm tracks over northern New England as opposed to Quebec it could transfer its energy to the Atlantic and save us from any melting. Even without such a track, Tuesday is likely going to be powdery. A nice zone of overrunning moisture should provide for a good period of snow that begins early in the ski day Tuesday and persists into the evening. It's early to make a call on how much but I would expect a few powdery inches at least. Wednesday is the tricky one. The storm could pull mild air into parts of the lower atmosphere and change precipitation to an icy mixture early in the day followed by a period of above freezing temperatures and rain. This forecast isn't etched in stone and don't count out the notion of some good news regarding this forecast situation. Even with a less than ideal track, models suggest the possibility for more terrain induced snowfall Thursday which we hope will start another ideal period.

The situation with the jet stream in the Pacific is not ideal in the longer range. Much of the storminess will actually focus on the mid-latitude Pacific for a time and although I would not necessarily prefer this, it isn't an evil empire. In addition we do have friends ! We have the support of the PNA index and some tepid support from the NAO and AO. The energy in the Pacific will likely prevent bone-chilling cold from gripping the eastern part of North America in the period starting February 10th but it doesn't look especially mild either and New England looks to be in a well-positioned area for another long stretch of winter. A little split-flow and some subtropical moisture could go a long way as far as increasing our prospects for a big winter storm. That isn't shown right now but I wouldn't completely rule it out (long range forecasts do  have some accuracy issues, imagine that ! ). Models at face value do show some additional chances for snowfall leading up to the Presidents Day holiday though and my guess is for another generally productive period between February 9th and 17th.

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Questions for next week yes, but overall outlook still looks pretty darn good

There was a small hue and cry Tuesday when a succession of computer models from two successive sets of upper air data showed uninhibited blowtorch toward the middle to end of next week. Given the inconsistency of the winter and propensity for thaws, the concern is certainly understandable. As of Wednesday, the consensus of data for period between February 7th and February 9th remains warmer compared to how it looked the last update but not nearly as warm as model projections Tuesday. The moral of the story here is don't model hug ! Specifics beyond a week out are hard to pin down and upper air data, which is collected only 2 times a day can lead you one direction one day and an entirely different direction the next.

Snow remains in the forecast for the next couple of days but both stability parameters and available moisture are not what they were late last week and weekend when the nearly 20 inches of snow fell over a couple of days. The occasional snow Wednesday will evolve more into snow showers Wednesday night and Thursday. 1-3 inches is my best guess on accumulations for Thursday with a bit more falling farther north. On Friday there is a very weak disturbance that is likely to rejuvenate the convective snow activity after a break Thursday night. Between Friday and Friday night, this is probably a 1-4 inch snow total with a bit more falling farther north. The end of the week will also see the first foray of below normal temperatures in quite some time with readings in the teens during the day and 5-10 during the overnights.

The upcoming weekend is set up to be a wintry one and quite a good one. The aforementioned new snow Friday/Friday night should freshen things up somewhat for Saturday which should feature some minimal sunshine with temperatures in the teens.  The Pacific Northwest will see an increase in storminess late this week and into the weekend and a piece of one of those storms is expected to advance through the Great Lakes on Sunday. I know that I promised a period of snow-free weather while New England hunkers down and watches the Pats play in another Super Bowl. Opinions do change however and it looks as if snow might advance into Vermont around midday Sunday and continue through the evening. The storm is expected to intensify as it bypasses the region and although the best snow is likely to fall farther north again, additional accumulations are likely for MRG setting Monday up for a mini powder day.

Moving on to next week is where all the big questions have suddenly arisen. Will we ultimately succumb to a 2-day blowtorch as was indicated on Tuesday ? I doubt it; and there is a good chance, that the week actually turns out to be a productive one though I will admit it looks closer than it did a few days ago. The winter of 2015-2016 was one that featured a devastating blowtorch at every opportunity but 2016-2017 has followed a different pattern in spite of what was a largely adverse pattern for the better part of January. The evidence for this lies in the 3-4 feet of snow that still covers much of the Green Mountains above 3000 feet. Not much of this actually been eliminated in spite of temperatures that averaged 8 degrees above normal for the month. The Mt Mansfield snow stake remains above average for 2017 even as some valley locations, particularly the Champlain valley have some bare ground to display.

From a forecasting standpoint the question relates to how much of the storminess in the Pacific Northwest coalesces into one big system or not. A giant amplification and storm coming out of the Eastern Rockies will not evolve in to a good situation for New England ski country. A more likely scenario is that the storm comes out in a few pieces and winter holds a tenuous group on interior New England throughout next week. This forecast would include some significant snow and the possibility for mixed precipitation but very little in the way of rain and above freezing temperatures. Could the models trend back toward what was shown Tuesday ? Yes but that's not where I would put my chips right now.

As we move toward February 10th the big concern remains the EPO and the tightening Pacific Jet. My concern, like with any upward move in the EPO index, is that an Evil Empire will emerge, crushing winter-like weather for a two week stretch in mid-February. Ensembles have moved away from this conclusion however and have indicated that the EPO will indeed make a move in a positive direction but will peak on February 10th and then weaken slightly thereafter. In addition there is some loose support for the NAO and AO to turn move favorable which would thus provide us with some much needed support to counter what would then be a more benign Pacific jet tightening.

So overall, yes there are some concerns for next week but lots of reasons to be optimistic for February.