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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.


Anonymous said...

Love this blog. Fingers crossed for winter's return

Ellen Johansen said...

Thanks for your perspective. It's good to hear a more balanced report. Skiing is expensive and drive is long from where we live. Knowing the real condition rather than the happy spin most resorts give on their conditions gives us the information to with go or cancel. This weekend we cancelled.

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