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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.


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