Think Snow, Tweet Snow !!!

Friday, March 10, 2017

March 14th storm could bring us back from our early grave, but we aren't locked and loaded quite yet

We suffered some "underperformance" in terms of getting a much needed accumulation from the recent snow squalls and some glaring bare spots remain on some of the low lying terrain at MRG. That said, winter is firmly entrenched in northern Vermont and temperatures are poised to drop below zero on a succession of nights thanks to a polar vortex which will spin by a few hundred miles to our north. Snow showers Friday and Friday night might bring an inch or two to the mountain but aside from some flurries on Saturday, the weekend is expected to remain dry and frigid. My guess is most readers will find these details meaningless. We have a giant winter storm that threatens a large swatch of the eastern seaboard but could also bring Mad River Glen roaring back to life by the middle of the upcoming week. The details of this should and will consume most of this discussion.

Various computer models have actually done a very nice job in consistently indicating the presence of this large storm for several days. It was discussed in the blog as early as this past Monday. The finer details have been a source of some disagreement however and this remains as of Friday. The rather subtle details have absolutely massive ramifications as far as snowfall totals are concerned for MRG. As of now however I remain optimistic and almost downright excited. There are some very intriguing analogies that can be drawn between this upcoming storm and some of the past great ones such as Valentines Day 2007 and a few storms dating back to the 90's. That said, there are ways in which we could get confined to the "glancing blow" we have often been forced to swallow for many storms the last several years. I don't actually think that will happen this time but it is a possibility.

The different outcomes proposed by various models have everything to do with track at this point. The American GFS model has suggested that the storm consolidate near the Delmarva Peninsula and proceed to track north toward Worcester, MA. Such an outcome would put northern Vermont in an enviable sweet spot and would produce our needed 2-3 footer. The European ECMWF took the storm about 50-100 miles east of Cape Cod and yielded a 4-8 inch snowfall but spared northern Vermont of some of the best snow. Information from the European Ensemble member mean was better however, suggesting that the storm would track within a few miles of Cape Cod and snowfall amounts would be higher. Data from the Canadian simulation was the worst for us and generally had the storm 100 or more miles east of the Cape and would produce little to no snowfall for Vermont. The trend of the models over the last 48 hours and the average of all outcomes is pretty darn good right now. I am anxiously awaiting the Friday afternoon run of the ECMWF and hope it better aligns with the American Model. Ideally we want the storm to track right over the city of Boston but I would take any track west of the Cape or east of Worcester.

Snow from all this begins early Tuesday persists through the day into Tuesday night. If we get the optimal outcome, the snow will continue into part of Wednesday and we will be counting the feet. If not, Wednesday will be dry and chilly. We can be assured of a week of sub-freezing temperatures however and a blustery couple of days Wednesday and Thursday. Friday should be dry and a bit more tranquil from the standpoint of winds.

Some sort of storm system remains in the cards for the weekend of March 18th and March 19th. A push of milder temperatures will try and loosen the grip of the recent stretch of cold weather but this will be associated with another potentially intriguing storm system. There won't be as much cold air available but there will be a limited supply and chilly temperatures are expected to return in the March 20th-March 22 time frame. This ensures that if mother nature indeed provides on March 14th, we could be skiing for a while thereafter. Think snow folks we almost have this.


Michael Moriarty said...

You have a knack for weather drama good sire! Dear Ullr (Norse God of winter) and Mother Nature we need this so bad after the horrific warm up earlier this month. Please deliver. Thanks for your analysis Josh. Always appreciated. -Mike

billski said...

thanks for characterizing each of the models behaviour. It's kind of like having four different testimonies out there and it's our job as the jury to seek the truth from limited evidence. With time, as more testimony comes in, if the witnesses change their stories, we get to a point of being able to come to an appropriate verdict. Weather, unlike trials will ultimately reveal the truth.

It seems as if modern forecasting has become almost entirely wrapped around models, limiting their scope of work to local phenomena. At least it's where they seem to spend most of their time, around the models.

In 1980 we took a ski trip to Stowe and stayed in a hotel on Mountain road. When we awoke in the morning, there was a foot of fresh pow on the deck. Nobody had expected it. Well, maybe except for a few mets buried in some chamber somewhere. Weather forecasts on television were done with a map and marker. Snow condition reports were relegated to finding the person in the office who had last visited. Usually that information was a week old. The ski phone was filled with misleading superlatives. Nowadays resorts seem to have a lot of transparency on what we they don't know and stick to the facts and optimism.

You give us a lot to ponder, with near instant analysis, which sometimes takes the excitement out of Christmas, old ma nature still holds the final surprise.

Thanks for all you do.

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