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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.


vtskier said...

Southern Vermont has received far less of the snow love this year. We need a legit Nor'easter with some serious bombogensis action right off the coast to turn this thing around. None of these weak sauce clippers (that have all veered well north or Rutland anyways). Any shot we get one?...and I mean one that drops in the form of the cold white stuff not this cuspy rain/snow sierra cement or straight up R!

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