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Friday, May 4, 2018

Winter 2017-18 gets high marks for longevity and resilience but one can't forget the nasty interruption

If nothing else, one has to admire the persistence and certainly resilience of this most recent winter. After reaching 70 degrees in parts of the Mad River Valley on February 21st, the mountain failed to see any matching warmth until late April or early May. The past winter was unique for its longevity and appreciated for the longer, more sustained cold outbreaks. That said, the 7-week stretch which began on that catastrophic Friday January 12th and extended through February was very unappreciated and severely crippled what is traditionally the heart of the Vermont ski season. A 2nd straight March recovery was epic, but it would be nice if we could reach March without needing a "Hail Mary" to save the season. 

Going back to early last autumn, it looked as if the unabated succession of anomalous warmth across eastern North America had broken. The summer was milder, autumn appeared to be arriving quickly and perhaps we could align ourselves for a succession of cooler months that might extend through the cold season. Then, for the 3rd consecutive year, Vermont experienced an autumn blowtorch with summer-like heat late in September and very warm weather for much of October. When "El Torchy" type patterns linger for such a duration, I tend to get concerned there are extraneous sea-surface temperature forces that are steering the outcome. Indeed, one could make that case given the configuration of sea surface temperature anomalies in the mid and high latitude Pacific and what appeared to be a building La Nina in the equatorial Pacific. Some of those sea surface temperature anomalies shifted in November however and the blowtorch abruptly ended. Winter didn't exactly break the door down in November but it did make itself known. Temperatures were generally below average and the mountains secured 10-15 inches of snow by the Thanksgiving holiday with a favorable looking pattern emerging for early December. 

The Arctic Oscillation (AO) provided a massive boost for the colder weather both in November/December and the season generally. By way of comparison, the 2016-2017 winter featured an AO that averaged over an index of 1 which in the aggregate is quite substantial while 2017-2018 featured an AO that was a shade below zero. The effect of this was felt instantly. Though the state saw a few mild days very early in December, a somewhat blocked arctic combined with ridging in western North America to produce a nice succession of sub-freezing temperature days beginning around December 7th. Lighter snows accompanied the colder weather initially but a clipper system arrived on December 12th, blew itself up into a full fledged winter storm and deposited over a foot of snow on the high country by the end of December 13th. For almost 2 months (way too long thinking back), the 12/12-13 event was the best of the season. The colder weather was more of the garden variety type through mid December but the pattern strengthened as the month progressed. There were significant questions relating to all this, as it appeared that a developing block across Alaska would be in direct competition with a building ridge across the southeast United States. Would another Christmas holiday feature a big thaw or would arctic air prevail ? In the end, the arctic cold won and won big. Christmas weekend saw some snow to ice and Christmas Day featured some powder though not as much as we might have liked. The ensuing days were brutally cold with temperatures spending much of that period between December 27 and 31st below zero. 

The onslaught of cold continued into the New Years holiday weekend and through the first week of 2018. All sorts of terms were thrown describing the deep freeze, my favorite being "The Arcticgeddon". Though it was impressive, sustained outbreak of extreme cold are not uncommon and typically impact much of the eastern seaboard every 2 years or so. For Vermont, the cold rivaled and even exceeded in some instances that of February 2015 with nighttime and morning readings of -25 and daytime temperatures failing to climb above zero both on January 1st and 2nd (the coldest two days of the winter season). The northern green mountains were hit with a unique warm advection snow event late on January 2nd, but for the most part, the period after Christmas through the first few days of 2018 was dry thanks to a suppressed storm track and the very shallow stable layer of cold that typically accompanies the polar vortex type events. Coastal areas did get a big impact from what many referred to as the "bomb cyclone" on January 4th. Meteorologically speaking, this was a truly mesmerizing storm since it strengthened to a hurricane-like intensity (~970 mb), producing 30-50 foot swells along the Massachusettes coast that were captured in full fury on YouTube (I highly recommend looking this up if you haven't seen it). I've provided another link here 

Scituate, MA video from 1/4/18

The storm stayed offshore but nonetheless caused a healthy swath of cold, powdery, snow in coastal sections and grazed Vermont with a few cold inches. Wind chills were 40 below or lower at the summits that day and into Friday making the skiing a bit of a challenge, but the snow was piling up and the season (aside from the extreme chill) seemed to be firing on all cylinders.

And then came January 12th. There were some glaring signs that the arctic cold would make a big retreat during the back half of the month and a rough 1-2 weeks of skiing was likely state-wide. The actual weather played its own little tune however, improvising quite a bit and deviating verses many of the expectations put forth early in the month. The January 12th event was some seriously bad improv. A combination of features in the jet stream conspired to produce an absolute worst case scenario for New England skiing. This combination included a somewhat phased amplified jet stream across the high plains and a resilient upper air low pressure center over Florida. The surge of warmth across New England was simply overwhelming and was accompanied by rain, high winds and temperatures well into the 50's. The 24-plus hours of all this was simply too much or much of the snow pack, even across the high country. Yes we retained a minimal amount of snow when the snow and sleet returned by Saturday the 13th (MLK weekend) but it wasn't much and thus the Vermont "frozen hellscape" as one follower of the blog called it had officially commenced. 

The improvisation actually continued for another week in January, as arctic cold made an impressive southward surge thanks to the formation of a powerful ridge in the jet stream which took up a position over the Canadian Rockies. The surprisingly strong outbreak of widespread cold provided a golden opportunity for a quick recovery but all of the precipitation and specifically snow was confined to areas well, well to the regions south or well offshore.  And then the cold finally did retreat as the MJO cycled out of the more favorable phases allowing the jet stream to tighten and the infamous "evil empire" to set up shop north and east of Hawaii. January ended quite horribly with lots of mild weather, mixed precipitation or rain and only isolated days of colder weather that included little if any snowfall. Hope came alive toward the end of the month in the form of what appeared to be a much improved weather pattern in February, but the weather continued to improvise and prognosticators that opted to marry themselves to specific ideas regarding the February weather pattern were taken to the woodshed yet again.

February indeed started promising and included both new snow and colder weather. Man it looked good too, especially for those weather enthusiasts that love to hyper focus on the MJO which I can tell you from experience is not running in short supply right now. The MJO had, as expected, move into some of the mild phases in the cycle during the latter part of January but was proceeding very quickly and a 3 year old could have quite easily extropolated that the MJO was riding toward glory in February. Extrapolating the MJO is a dangerous game however, about as dangerous as over-emphasizing the cycle as the single best determinant for the ambient North American weather pattern. Everything was on track initially with snow falling late on Superbowl Sunday and then a foot of snow falling during the middle of the week from a garden variety system that tracked beautifully for interior New England. It all fell apart thereafter however. The MJO stalled, the ridge in the jet stream across western North America fell apart and it finally started to snow across Colorado which had been barren for the entire season. It began to get mild across Vermont by the weekend of the 10th and 11th and then it got milder and then even milder. We got some rain, we lost some snow and then we got more rain and lost more snow. Then the mountains got 60-degree weather on February 21st and many places at 2000 feet had little if any snow. By the end of the month it appeared hopeless. Though improvements were right around the corner, the snow was almost entirely gone below 3000 feet. Pictures taken at Mad River Glen on April 30th show more snow on the mountain verses what was present during the last few days of February. It was a truly depressing state of affairs
  
Morale always takes a beating during blowtorches and meltdowns and in recent years it has been accompanied by doom, gloom and despair. Each round of anomalous warmth always brings discussion of global warming/climate change and comments are often suggestive that winters are "going, going gone" as are decent ski seasons. All of this is actually true if the warming experienced over the last 150 years persists for another 200 years or beyond. Generations from now, winters in Vermont might be unrecognizable compared to what we are typically accustomed. We as a globe have to make it a priority to rethink our carbon footprint if we are to conquer this challenge. All that said, global land and sea temperatures have moved up about one or two hundreths of a degree F every year. Speaking strictly in the scales of geological time, these are alarming changes. They are not changes however that can be easily separated from typical statistical noise associated with variability which as we all know occurs through time and across geographical space. Cold happens, warm happens, storms happen, drought happens and all these things will continue to happen regardless of climate changes. Attributing each anomalous weather event to global warming and climate change introduces some sketchy science unless compelling scientific and data driven arguments are made to support such assertions.  Hurricane season seems to bring out some of the worst actors in this regard. Though warmer water temperatures undoubtedly support stronger storms the available data has not suggested that hurricane activity in a general sense has increased at least during the satellite era. The climate change/global warming issue is a vital one that requires a mass movement just for general awareness. Like any movement of this scale and importance, there are going to be bad actors that rely too heavily on bad science or are simply using the platform to garner attention for themselves. If you are one that tends to be disinclined to take the climate change issue seriously because of characters like Al Gore (who I don't consider the worst actor but is still guilty of using reaching scientific arguments to make his case) I would try and move past it and understand that although some of the alarmists might be seriously wrong about their claims, one still has be extremely concerned about what the climate might look like 100, 200 or 300 years from now. 

One glaring, completely non-sensationalistic example of some early manifestations of climate change is the ongoings across the Arctic and specifically Barrow AK. Barrow, also going by the more indigenous name of Utqiagvic is considered, by some, to be one of the oldest inhabited towns in the United States, sitting at the northern most point of Alaska bordering the Beaufort sea and the vast but rapidly decreasing plate of arctic sea ice. Barrow is a place of -80 degree wind chills with an economy that is geared toward local oil exploration or feeding itself through whaling, fishing or hunting. The town, which remains majority indigenous is a place where memories are stored and past forward over multiple generations and where changes in the climate have real impacts on daily life. And it would be difficult to find a place anywhere in the world where those changes have been as dramatic. The autumn months in particular have been running warm and the weather was so incredibly anomalous during the last few months of 2017 that a statistical algorithm automatically flagged the data and tossed it out of the global aggregation. A more detailed narration of this occurrence can be found in the write-up by Angela Fritz of the Capital Weather Gang in December. 
 
 
In a span of just 20 years a typical October has warmed almost 8 degrees F, almost 7 degrees in November and almost 5 in December. The warming, especially at this latitude is a direct result of climate change and on multiple fronts. Almost every month has experienced at least 1-2 degrees of warming but the autumn months have been especially dramatic because of the dramatic loss of sea ice. 50 years ago, the arctic would usually freeze by October and is now remaining unfrozen through part of November. Barrow has literally become a maritime climate for two additional months. Though there are several visible signs of what has already occured, Barrow stands out to me as being one of the most glaring.

Back to Vermont and the incredible "don't call it a comeback" (yet it really was) month of March 2018.  The month rolled in with the snow mostly obliterated and MRG looking at “practice slope” only conditions and Stowe was forced to cancel their annual cross country derby for the third year in a row. Once again, a Hail Mary was needed to extend the season in any material way.

The pattern looked promising even as the February torch was annihilating what was left of our snow. The pattern change was triggered by the formation of an intense block in the jet stream over Greenland to go along with a negative Arctic Oscillation (AO). Interestingly, there was no available mechanism in the jet stream to transport significant amounts of cold in New England so that hope was that the pattern would deliver simply through sheer storminess and deliver it did. Big storms impacted the northeast on March 2nd, 7th-8th, 13th-14th and 21st-22nd. Not all of these big weather systems impacted northern Vermont; in fact, MRG was hardly the best spot, but during this crazy March, one didn't even need to be in the best spot. The first storm on March 2nd was the most impressive meteorologically speaking, causing wind damage and power outages along with producing heavy wet snow. Most of the snow missed northern Vermont, smacking the Catskills instead with 2-3 feet and delivering a foot to southern Vermont. Mad River did better from the subsequent storm on March 8th and though the storm was notable for the intense 5 inch an hour band that smacked suburban New Jersey, General Stark was back in business to the 1-3 feet that fell by Friday March 9. 

15-30 inches were back on the ground and March 13th had yet to arrive ! Our recent propensity for recording big storms around that date was further ironed into Mad River Glen tradition this year when for the 2nd straight year our best storm smacked the mountain. Though certainly not the strongest system to impact the northeast that month, the set up was absolutely perfect with the block across the Davis Strait prohibiting the storm from a clean getaway and allowing for continuous snowfall for roughly 60 hours. From virtually nothing to some of the deepest snow since 2015, March of 2018 was one of the more remarkable turnarounds. Vermont mostly missed the next big east coast system on March 21st and then received some mixed precipitation and rain during the last few days of the month.


As snowy as March of 2018 turned out to be, it was not especially cold. Temperatures averaged out to about normal during the month and bitterly cold arctic air never really became a big part of the equation. All of this changed ironically when April came around. The blocking in Greenland disappeared and eventually reemerged in a rather substantial way over Alaska and within a few days, extreme cold began making big hard charges southward. Temperatures averaged 7 degrees below normal for the month and when all the numbers are tallied, it will likely rank as one of the 10 coldest April's on record. One would have thought that with all that cold in April, the snow would also fall in abundance. Though enough snow did fall to bring the seasonal total up past 200 inches, the total for the month was actually a little disappointing and only in the vicinity of 10-15 inches or so. Much of the snow that fell in March however, continued to remain on the ground through most of April. As of early May, snow remains across the high country and the growing season is only finally readying itself to commence for the year. 

In the end 2018 managed to provide a little of everything. Though the snow season and Sugarbush ski season extended to nearly 6 months, February has to stick in one's craw. The traditional peak of the Vermont ski season was torched away by warmth while especially intense bouts of winter in varying forms ravaged Vermont both prior to and after February. The season was decidedly colder than the previous two, accompanied by either normal or below normal temperatures in November, December, January, March and April. There was plenty of snow across the northeast as well, but northern Vermont simply was not in the best place for it. The over 200 inches recorded by the end of April is within the vicinity of normal but a vast area beginning not far to our south recorded well above normal snowfall. Compared to normal, here is a breakdown of how certain regions did surrounding Vermont. 

Southern Vermont: 125-175 % of normal 
Coastal New England: 125-175 % of normal
Maine: 100-150 % of normal 
NYC/The Catskills/The Poconos/Jersey: 150-250 % of normal
Mid Atlantic Region: 75-125 % of normal 
CentralAppalachian (PA/WV) 125-175 % of normal
Southern Snow Belts: 150-250 % of normal
Northern Snow Belts: 75-115 % of normal

Northern Vermont in regards to snowfall was actually on the eastern edge of a broad area that extended through the Upper Peninsula of Michigan that under performed relative to their southern counterparts. In the case of Mad River Glen, it was simply being too far northwest for the most intense areas of precipitation. It seemed as if almost every storm got the mountain a little but only a select few got the mountain a lot even though we had so much winter to play with. It's all apart of the history books now and hopefully most that follow the blog got a chance to play in it a bunch. Enjoyed the effort once again as always and will be talking winter once again on the other side of the upcoming summer.

Monday, April 9, 2018

Last standard update of the season has minimal snow this week with gradually moderating temperatures

We got one 4 incher on Friday and a lot of cold weather over the weekend, but I was hoping for substantially more out of this 2018 winter encore. The big disappointment is the early week storm which was certainly capable  making an impact but will exit the east coast with a whimper early Tuesday, April 10th. This meager system does have an inverted trough structure which will spread some light snow or snow showers across both New York and New England Monday night into Tuesday. Mad River Glen and surroundings could score about an inch out of this but the event will fall well short of what will be needed to open the re open the mountain. The spring warming trend will commence in the wake of the light snow on Tuesday and though this process will be rather slow over the coming week, the snowmelt will begin to speed up across the high country. Given this information, today's update will be the last regular one of the season before the blog's traditional summer hiatus though a proper end of season summary will follow this in the coming week or two.

Wednesday will start out chilly with another round of near 20 degree temperatures but some limited April sunshine will boost readings into the 40's. It will take some time to soften up some of the snow near the summits  of the mountains that remain open. Lower dewpoints (near 20) Wednesday might also keep the corn horn at bay but Thursday's temps will be a few degrees warmer and so will the dewpoints which could prove to be the difference. Thursday could also feature some mixed precipitation especially late which will end as some plain rain. Friday looks a few degrees milder yet again, near 50, and most if the opened terrain should be softened.

The weekend forecast has taken a turn for the colder in recent days. Some chilly arctic air is looming in Canada and seems intent on making a charge southward through the New England side door this weekend (via Quebec). Models have yet to give us a conclusive read out of the weekend's weather but I trust the Euro which has established some consistency over the last 48 hours. Some forecasts still have readings in the 50's this weekend but I expect this to drop in the coming days. In the end, both Saturday and Sunday should feature lots of clouds and temperatures between 32 and 42. Visibility might also be pretty limited and some rain is likely though the timing of this remains uncertain.

Heavier rain is likely for a period early next week (April 16th or 17th) which might end as some snow during the middle of the week. For the most part, temperatures should remain well above freezing during the day with only a few hours of below freezing temperatures during the overnights late in the week.

Wednesday, April 4, 2018

The winter encore continues for another week with snow Friday and possibly more after that

The upcoming week is likely to be the last "serious" roar of the 2017-2018 winter season. I woudn't crown the season has historic by any means, but one has to credit the longevity. The upcoming week will feature plenty of anomalous cold and 3 decent chances for snowfall. The first chance Friday is a near certainty at this point, the next two not as much.

Visibility will finally improve Thursday with the arrival of a serious charge or cold dry arctic chill. Thanks to some blustery winds, the day will have a mid-wintry feel to it with readings starting out in the teens and struggling to reach the freezing mark. Any morning flurries will give way to some sunshine, a welcome sight given the dreariness of Tuesday and Wednesday. A strengthening clipper system will bring snow back to much of Vermont Friday. Clouds will arrive in the pre-dawn hours Friday and the snow comes soon after with temperatures predominantly in the 20's. The snow should accumulate 3-5 inches across the high country by the middle of the afternoon, diminish for a time and then resume as occasional snow showers Friday night. Temperatures Friday are likely to reach the freezing mark, allowing the snow to be on the wetter side in the valleys though its likely to remain powdery closer to the summits.

Arctic air will gradually attempt to rebuild across the region on Saturday but a wave of low pressure will try and establish itself into a full fledged storm along the Carolina coastline by late in the day. Incoming energy in the polar jet has the capability of further igniting this system and allowing for a period of snowfall in the Saturday night time frame. Significant snow is not a likely outcome with this storm but it bears watching as almost anything is possible in this type of set up. The masters golf tournament will finish up this Sunday but Vermont will spend most of the day in sub-freezing country with readings in the 20's during the morning and 30's during the afternoon. Snow is possible early Sunday from the aforementioned storm, but again, the chance for a big accumulation is on the low side.

The pattern does have a caboose. The jet stream will be relaxing early next week as some of the polar jet energy diminishes or retreats. Meanwhile, a weather system will gather some steam as it crosses the middle of the country Monday and begins gathering a bit of Atlantic Ocean moisture Monday night. Without the full ferocity of the polar jet, the storm will not have as much cold air to work with and will be moving decidedly slower. That said, it has the capability of becoming a rather potent east coast weather producer by Tuesday April 11 and snowfall will largely depend on the track of whatever develops. For now, better to just emphasize the potential and also understand that the system could stay south, move well north or just fall apart altogether. I would place the chances for significant snow at 30-40 percent though which isn't bad 6 or so days out.

I suggested a pattern change toward the warmer side around April 10 during the last update which obviously appears delayed but not by much. The relaxing jet stream will allow temperatures to modify by the end of the week and readings are likely going to reach the 50's and even 60's by the middle of the month. Though winter is likely to take an isolated punch or two at us after that, I am guessing that this is it as far as sustained wintry weather is concerned. Enjoy 


Thursday, March 29, 2018

Colder, wintry weather is on the way but we need the storm track to cooperate next week

The "corn horn" was finally sounded and unfortunately the rain horn has also been sounded. After about a quarter to a half inch of rain Thursday night, the rain will move out on Friday and some partial clearing will accompany a push of colder temperatures. The last full day of March, Saturday, will start with sub-freezing temperatures and with the help of a healthy dose of sunshine, readings will climb into the 40's. A "BC bomber" then attacks from the west on Saturday night bringing clouds and some elevation sensitive rain/snow showers. Unfortunately this system is expected to track through Quebec leaving us on the warmer and less precipitous side of things. We could see a small gloppy accumulation above 2500 feet prior to Sunday morning but I don't expect a powder day Sunday. It will however be colder with temperatures again starting in the 20's and only rising into the 30's.

Now I know the updates have gotten more sparse and we are expecting some winter weather to return to the region, so my apologies for the lack of updates. Since the weekend, the intensity of the chill next week looks slightly less. Still, a very impressive area of anomalous April cold will set up shop across the middle part of North America and though its reach into New England looks a bit more tenuous, we are still .lined up for some below normal temperatures and potentially some snow. Monday appears to be a dry day with morning temperatures in the teens and afternoon readings struggling to get above freezing. After that, the first of what I think will be two significant weather producers will impact the region. With the center of the cold and supporting trough in the jet stream set up across the middle of the country, this first storm has been advertised to take a less than ideal track later Tuesday into Wednesday. This puzzle has yet to be pieced together however and even given the aforementioned scenario, we could still be looking at a period of snow turning to mixed precipitation. If we intend to get any powder however, we will need this system to track further south and not close to the Canadian border or even farther north. Colder weather will follow for Thursday and send temperatures at least partially back below freezing through Friday and then another weather system is likely to impact the region around the weekend of April 7th and 8th. We have the cold weather in place but will need the storm track to cooperate much like we need it to for the first storm on Tuesday.

 Around the time of April 10th, the jet in the Pacific will tighten a bit and although some cold weather is indicated to linger across the Plains, it will likely loosen its grip on New England. Hardly a bold prediction given the time of the year, but we should expect temperatures to spend a greater percentage of time above freezing with readings reaching the 60 degree mark at least once between April 11th and 15th.

Saturday, March 24, 2018

A few inches Saturday night keeps the winter vibe alive and after some milder weather this upcoming week, winter will make an April return

Still talking about fresh powder on March 24th and we could be continuing such discussions into April by the looks of things. Strong northerly flow at Jet Stream level typically means dry weather in Vermont and for the most part it will be in this case, but a quick moving impulse will drop down this chimney Saturday night and allow for a burst of snowfall across the high country. The snow won't last long but will accumulate 2-4 inches before ending by morning. Temperatures as I indicated, are good enough for powder - near 20 degrees.

Sunday will feature increasing amounts of blue sky and Monday will feature a total blue sky and will probably rank as one of the best visibility days of the year. Temperatures will generally stay below freezing on much of the mountain Sunday but the strong late March sunshine will help boost temperatures to within a few degrees of 40 Monday. The warming, given the time of year, was pretty imminent this upcoming week, but we've had thaws already this year that were more destructive. Readings will climb into the 40's on Tuesday and up near 50 on Wednesday, but the warmer temperatures won't be accompanied by high dewpoints or strong winds and will thus leave much of the snowpack in tact in the mountains.  Rain showers late on Wednesday or Wednesday night will melt a little more snow, as will some lingering mild weather on Thursday, but the cold is returning by the weekend and new snow might very well arrive with it.

Arctic cold will be on the move southward late next week and into early April thanks to a plethora of favorable teleconnection indices, mainly a relaxed Pacific Jet stream. There are hints of a significant storm late Friday into early Saturday capable of providing a multitude of precipitation types to New England. Temperatures on Friday are likely too mild to support snow but an infusion of arctic chill could make things more interesting by Saturday March 31st. Cold, below normal temperatures will continue at a varying intensity for at least a week into April and the wintry temperatures are likely to be accompanied by some wintry weather. If we can continue to keep the subtropics involved as we have through much of the last month, be prepared for some intrigue.  

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Cold weather and some snow flurries through the weekend then a warm-up for next week

Another in a long list of March of 2018 winter storms has raged on the Mid_Atlantic and parts of southern New England, but this impressive system remains and will remain beneath us. This nor'easter, like the one very early this month, features a strong and closed upper low south of the Delmarva Peninsula and this consolidated much of the precipitation to the western and southern flank of the storm. We also have some very dry, cold air in place this week. Though not bulletproof, this airmass also helped shield us from the heaviest precipitation.

We still have a ton of snow on the ground; in fact, its some of the deepest late March snowpack we've seen in a while. Temperatures finally inched above the freezing mark on the lower part of mountain Wednesday, but for the most part, readings will stay below the freezing mark through the weekend with the exception of a few hours during each of the next several afternoons and really only at lower elevations. As for snow, the forecast doesn't have much. A low pressure wave will bring some wintry precipitation to the Mid-Atlantic again this weekend but this system will again follow a very southern path and stay well south of the region. This allows the aforementioned colder air to remain in place and although heavy snow  is not expected, a very weak plume of moisture from the maritimes will keep Friday and Saturday on the mostly cloudy side with flurries and an occasional snow shower. Don't think we can do much better than 1-3 inches by early Sunday from all this, but its worth keeping an eye on.

I advertised another possible warm-up next week and though it looks a day or two delayed, arrive it will. Chilly overnight temperatures will continue into the early part of next week thanks to clear skies and snowcover but sunshine will boost readings toward 40 on Monday and well into the 40's Tuesday. If we don't hear it by Tuesday, the corn horn should sound on Wednesday & Thursday of next week with at least one of those days featuring 50-plus temperatures.

Winter is not done however. The EPO is really expected to crash by late in the month and will be coupled by some significant ridging in the Arctic north of Alaska. Combine all that with a possible reemergence of ridging in Greenland and it adds up to one of the best set ups for cold and wintry weather we've seen all year in eastern North America. The timing has been pushed back just slightly compared to a few days ago but we should expect a big surge of below and much below normal temperatures around April Fools Day and some accompanying snow across the Vermont high-country.

Sunday, March 18, 2018

Upcoming storm stays south of Vermont/MRG but cold persists for another week

Thanks to the deep snow cover and an influx of arctic air, temperatures dropped below zero Sunday morning in some sections of the state and will likely do so again by Monday morning. It's post St Patrick's Day and winter prevails and will continue to do so through this upcoming week with temperatures remaining below average and mostly below freezing. In a way of thinking, winter will prevail a little too much this week as the storm track has shifted south and will help keep the next juicy weather system well south of Vermont.

By midday Monday, the storm in question will be crossing the lower Mississippi River Valley and gathering moisture from the Gulf of Mexico as it does so. The weather across New England has been a lot colder than expected 10 days ago and that is a result of substantial amounts of polar jet energy that has taken up a position over eastern sections of North America. During other polar intrusions this winter and in winters past, we can recall how much this can suppress many storms and this is no exception (though in March, sometimes all bets are off). That said, we have established some pretty good agreement that our next potential big east coast system will stay south of the Virginia tidewater with its trailing upper level support confined to the southern Appalachian Mountains. The storm will take a more northward turn Wednesday get to within 150 miles or so of Cape Cod, but unlike its predecessors, there is no mechanism in this jet stream to hold this storm in the Canadian Maritimes long enough to allow moisture to reach Vermont. The forecast has thus gotten pretty dry and includes lots of sunshine actually with the exception of a period of cloudiness Wednesday and Thursday. Temperatures will modify only slowly and will remain below freezing on most of the mountain through Thursday.

The weekend of the 24th and 25th again looks colder and includes mostly below freezing temperatures thanks to an expected re enforcing of the east coast trough. Milder air will be gathering some steam across the middle of the country and will begin making a push northeastward as the weekend progresses. A series of weaker weather producers will likely divide the milder air from the cold gripping New England and may produce some snowfall as they pass though its a bit early to clearly define the timing. With mid-week storm passing to our south, the weekend is likely our next chance for snow generally speaking.

The mild air is expected to continue gathering strength by the 26th and is likely to make some inroads into Vermont for at least a day prior to March 28th as the Arctic Oscillation neutralizes. Winter is probably not done however as a building ridge in western North America and Alaska will probably allow for a major push of chill around the end of the month.

Friday, March 16, 2018

January-like temperatures will keep it powdery through the weekend while next week storm is still in play but looks somewhat south of us

Half way through March of 2018, nearly 75 inches of snow has fallen across the high country surrounding the Mad River Valley. Just 15-16 days ago, one would have to climb to the summit quad at Mt Ellen just to see consistent snowcover (MRG was closed). It was a depressing state of affairs even as the pattern appeared to be improving dramatically. It was a season truly on the brink to borrow the title from the great John Feinstein book. Going into St Patrick's Day weekend, there is currently snow where there almost always isn't, cliffs that have disappeared, ice falls covered in pow and steeps and chutes that even a hack like me can navigate.

And the snow keeps falling. Flurries in the case of Friday and these will actually continue into Saturday though accumulations will be fairly minimal. As you probably have noticed, the forecast just keep getting colder. Though the snow has fallen at an amazing clip this month, temperatures are still above average ( for the month) and Friday marks the first day of substantially below normal temperatures. Saturday's readings will be colder still, hovering in the teens throughout the day with blustery northwest winds pushing the wind chill down below zero. It mostly sunny on Sunday but wintry with readings close to zero in the morning and near 20 in the afternoon. Monday looks like a repeat of Sunday.

And then on to the next storm, a sizable one, that will dump snow across the Rocky Mountains this weekend and churn  its way across the Mississippi Valley on Monday. With the colder changes in the forecast, the storm track has shifted to the south and there is good agreement  that the center of the storm will be somewhere between the Virginia Tidewater and Cape Hatteras by Tuesday evening. The setup with this event appears a bit different than our recent one. Though some blocking in the jet stream has defied some expectations and will persist through the weekend and into early next week, it is expected to subside during the middle of the week, allowing the storm to have an "escape hatch" as opposed to getting hung up in the Maritimes like its two predecessors. At least that's how it looks right now. It appears like we could grab a few inches from this even in the current setup but we'll likely need the storm to track further north than models currently have for another big snow producer. This is not a big ask, so lets just see how this all looks in another day or two.

Meanwhile, temperatures will gradually modify during the week but remain mostly below freezing on the mountain through the end of the week. The period beginning Sunday March 25th and ending sometime early in the following week appears to be the time frame where a good push of spring-like temperatures could reach the region. Something similar was shown for St Patrick's day weekend about 10 days ago and we can all see how well that worked out. In addition, the warm-up is not likely to last even if it were to happen, as the ensembles are showing a nice looking positive PNA structure in the jet stream by the 27th or 28th of March. This will promote another southward push of cold temperatures that would essentially take us to the end of the month.

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Very snowy in the short term and much colder this weekend

It's March 13th, do you know where your big storm is ? In the case of 2018, about 100 miles southeast of Cape Cod as of midday Tuesday, moving methodically north-northeast. As expected, the storm will turn northward, passing over Nova Scotia/New Brunswick and get hung up a across the Maritimes. Though the southern part of Vermont will see some intense snowfall rates for a time on Tuesday, much of the state will miss the most intense snow bands; instead, seeing mostly steady but lighter snow throughout the afternoon and evening. Nonetheless, northern Vermont appears to be the pivot point (or pivot line) for some of the best moisture as the storm slows its forward progress on Wednesday. Though snowfall rates are not expected to be intense, they will be continuous over the high country, especially from Sugarbush northward and persist through Wednesday, Wednesday night and into Thursday before tapering to flurries sometime during the day. This is an awesome set up for the high country in northern Vermont which should perform exceptionally well particularly Wednesday and Wednesday night with the added effects of upslope . Here is a breakdown of expected snow totals for the aforementioned high elevations.

Tuesday:         5-7" (More in southern Vermont)
Tuesday Night:   3-6"
Wednesday:       4-8" (More in far northern Vermont)
Wednesday Night: 3-6" (More in far northern Vermont)
Thursday:        1-3" (More in far northern Vermont
Total Snow over 3 days: 16-30 inches

Temperatures will remain in the lower and middle 20's through (Thursday) along with rather stiff northwest winds though nothing especially intense. The snowfall will have more of a convective element to it on Wednesday/Wednesday Night into Thursday bringing the fluff factor into play and making it some of the best powder of the year to ski in.

The forecast for Friday and into the weekend and chilled down quite dramatically which eliminates any idea of thawing this weekend. Medium range models basically missed a fairly significant impulse which will help reenforce the eastern trough this weekend and actually bring the first significant round of below normal temperatures to the region in quite some time (The month as a whole is still 5 above normal from a temperature standpoint). Flurries and a few snow showers will also continue on Friday, subside somewhat Saturday and Sunday though remain possible. What a dramatic turn on temperatures though. Teens for lows and 20's for highs on the mountain accompanied by wind chill. Quite wintry indeed.

This wintry theme will continue into early next week. Monday appears dry with temperatures as low as the single numbers during the morning and 20's during the afternoon. Another jet amplification is still indicated for the Tuesday-Wednesday time frame although the colder change in the forecast has also corresponded with a storm track that appears farther south. In spite of this, the possibility of a major east coast storm remains and situation will bear watching for several days especially given the reemergence of blocking in the jet stream across Greenland and the Davis Strait.

Much of this blocking is expected to continue through next week before subsiding by March 24th or so. The substantially negative Arctic Oscillation which has largely been responsible for the southward shifted storm track this month is also expected to subside. Looseness in the Pacific Jet is expected to continue however and should allow colder temperatures to continue to prevail across much of the mid-latitudes of North America through most of the rest of March.

Sunday, March 11, 2018

Rinse and repeat, another 1-2 feet !!!

We've certainly seen some storms slip through our fingers this year and a soul crushing stretch of February weather that appeared on the brink of permanently closing out the 2017-2018 season at MRG. March arrives, the pattern improves drastically and a "trend is your friend" theme has suddenly dominated the blog. Almost 30 inches on the ground with more coming, a lot more actually.

As of Sunday afternoon, a storm is intensifying and gathering a healthy supply of Gulf of Mexico Moisture. It will already be a formidable system by the time it moves off the Carolina coastline on Monday and it will appear as if it will make a full escape out into the open waters of the Atlantic Ocean, but you simply can't count any storm out in this pattern. Jet energy will dive in behind the storm , amplifying the pattern and further fueling the system, while continued blocking over the Labrador Sea prevents the aforementioned full escape. The storm will thus make the critical northward turn, pass just east of Cape Cod Tuesday afternoon and get hung up in the Maritimes for a time, somewhat like the last storm. This is a stronger storm from the standpoint of atmospheric pressure and a larger storm geometrically which means that in spite of the less than favorable track, Vermont will be positioned to get some decent snowfall and better than decent snowfall thanks to the storms temporary maritime "hang-up".

Much of southern and eastern New England are positioned to get clobbered with some of the heaviest snowfall through much of Tuesday. Snow will begin across much of the state of Vermont by Tuesday morning and persist steadily throughout the day, accumulating 4-8 inches by the evening. If the storm track can shift westward by 100 or so miles, accumulations could be double that at then some. Even without the shift, snow should continue into Tuesday night and into Wednesday when lingering moisture will combine with the added effects of upslope. The central and especially northern Green Mountains should do especially well as a result with an additional 2-4 inches Tuesday night and another 2-4 Wednesday. And it won't stop there, as moisture will be allowed to pinwheel around the weakening area of low pressure into Thursday thus yielding our 3-day total of 1-3 feet. I am actually being a bit conservative on snow estimates. It's an excellent setup even without the most optimal storm track and I could see the northern Greens overperforming much like we did Saturday night.

Overall this is both a stronger and colder storm. Snowfall should be powdery throughout with temperatures in the lower 20's and we should see stronger north winds though the strongest winds appear to be reserved for eastern New England mainly Tuesday. Winds will shift to the northwest Wednesday and Thursday but remain in the 10-20 mph range with higher gusts at the summits.

Flurries might continue into Friday but the accumulating snow should be over by Thursday. Temperatures are expected to remain well below freezing on the hill through Friday and the St Patrick's day mild push appears less potent although temperatures are likely going to climb above freezing at low elevations by Saturday afternoon. Some underrated good news is that the potential storm that appeared timed for the 18-19th of the month appears delayed allowing the pattern to supply what will be much needed cold air as the precipitation arrives. Within a day or so of March 20th we could see another and this is followed by more March chill that will persist through the end of the ensuing week. Now when I say "March chill", it's a relative term. Late March weather typically consists of many above-freezing days even in wintry patterns but to readers of the blog, I think that goes without saying.




Friday, March 9, 2018

The March comeback lives and will live on with snow this weekend and more during the upcoming week

Moisture from the mostly stalled and weakening low pressure area in the Canadian Maritimes pivoted west of Vermont early on Friday and sunshine made an appearance albeit sporadically. Some of the snow showers dotting New York state Friday will rotate back into the Vermont high country Friday evening and night and bring a fresh 1-3 inches for first tracks Saturday. It's indicated to dry out a bit during the ski day Saturday and the sun could once again make an occasional appearance. As this is happening, the stalled and weakening low pressure area in the Maritimes will receive an influx of Atlantic moisture. Some of this will rotate into northern New England via Canada and is expected to produce a steadier version of snowfall Saturday evening and night. This all makes Sunday look even better right now with an additional 2-5 inches expected by Sunday first tracks as snow continues to fall through the early morning. Temperatures will remain quite steady ranging between the low 20's to about 30 throughout.

Though our upcoming Monday will not feature any additional snowfall, the rest of the week has intrigue. An influx of subtropical moisture from the Gulf of Mexico, an amplifying jet stream and blocking in the jet stream across the Labrador Sea are all ingredients for all sorts of fun and games including the continued possibility for a big storm. For the time being, models have seemingly put the kibosh on the big storm idea; instead, showing a flatter, less robust system moving off the Mid Atlantic Coast Monday night. The jet being rather log jammed downstream of us makes it unwise to completely dismiss a larger east coast event but even without it, respectable snowfall is likely across Vermont during the middle of the week. Assuming the storm is well out to sea (no guarantee), the downstream blocking will still cause the storm to get held up again across the Maritimes with low pressure extending itself backward toward much of New England. Without the influence of a strong, dry area of arctic high pressure, the gates are open for moisture and snowfall, especially over the high country on Tuesday, Wednesday and even Thursday. One way or another, this seems like an excellent opportunity for the mountains to over perform, even if the sun is shinning on valley locations. Furthermore, I would not eliminate the possibility of a bigger storm, at least not yet.

Temperatures throughout next week will stay below freezing extending the stretch of sub-freezing temperatures to around 10 days which isn't too bad for March.  The aforementioned blocking in the Labrador Sea will break down however and will allow warmer temperatures to move northward for St Patrick's Day. Hard to get to specific on temperatures this far out, but a warm push in mid-March can easily get the corn horn blown and produce 50 and even 60 degree readings. Some sort of storm is indicated to arrive just after the warm air and we could be dealing with a period of wet weather as a result. As this is happening however, the weather pattern seems intent on delivering another round of cold and wintry weather that may persist through the end of March. It comes thanks to the re emergence of a negative NAO and what appears to be a very relaxed jet stream in the Pacific. Whether this colder push arrives in time to salvage some of the potential storm in the March 18th-19th period remains to be seen. Either way, the March comeback lives and will live on !


Wednesday, March 7, 2018

Storm track shifts back to the east a bit but gradual snowfall will bring 1-2 feet for the period beginning Wednesday Night through early Sunday

Snow began across much of Vermont early Wednesday but the heavier stuff arrives Wednesday evening as moisture from a very respectable East Coast arrives. Model data gave us a somewhat cruel tease Tuesday by bringing the track of the surface storm closer to Boston and placing much of the Vermont high country into some of  the heaviest snow. Data from the European model held firm with the idea that the storm will curl around Cape Cod and ultimately park itself in the Canadian Maritimes for a few days starting Thursday. Not a bad scenario for most of Vermont ski country but we are nonetheless on the edge of some of the best synoptic snow Wednesday night and we are not going to see the thump snow that much of New Jersey, NW Connecticut and parts of Massachusetts will see. Expectations should thus be tempered just a bit. 

All that said, steady snow will replace the sporadic snow Wednesday evening and continue through the night and into Thursday morning. The heaviest snow will be southeast of Mad River Glen by almost 100 miles, but 5-10 inches of new snow should present itself to skiers at first tracks time Thursday. The best part of this event involves the continuation of snow, particularly over the high country, throughout the day Thursday and beyond. Though I don't expect the snow to be especially heavy, it will continue to accumulate very gradually and provide an additional 1-3 inches during the day and another 1-3 inches Thursday night.

As mentioned, the low pressure center and much of the upper level support for it, will park itself over the Canadian Maritimes and remain in that vicinity through the weekend. There are surface and upper level impulses that are indicated to pinwheel around this broad area of disorganized storminess. Without getting too bogged down in some of those details, we can expect off and on snow to continue through Friday and into much of the weekend. Whether its snowing and whether its snowing materially will depend on the timing of these aforementioned impulses, but there are indications of accumulating snow almost every period through early Sunday. There are also periods embedded within  that time frame where snow is not indicated to fall. So expect the occasional snowfall to continue with a couple inches by first tracks time Friday morning and a couple more Saturday morning. There's a good chance the concept of "partial refills" will continue all the way into Sunday. So, in spite of missing on the thunder-thump snow, slow and steady snowfall will for an excellent stretch where 1-2 feet can be expected between Wednesday night and Sunday morning.

To address some frequently asked questions, lets discuss wind and temperature just a little. Wind won't be an issue for the most part and though I can't speak for every lift in every location I would be surprised if there are major issues. Temperatures at MRG should remain rather steady in the upper 20's over the next several days thanks to the cloud cover and precipitation. Snow consistency should stay powdery over most of the mountain but across the valley locations, expect not only lesser accumulations but gloppier snow.

Moving along, we still have another potential storm to speculate about. This is a system that will gather significant amounts of Gulf of Mexico moisture over the weekend but most indications have the bulk of this storm to our south early next week. All is not lost however with this storm or this set up. Blocking in the jet stream persists across the Labrador Sea and will not only help with the "partial refills" this weekend, but will also make it difficult for the storm to make a full escape early next week. Instead, it is likely to get sucked into the Canadian Maritimes like its predecessor allowing moisture to find its way into northern New England in varying scenarios. Temperatures won't be frigid but will likely be a shade below normal through the week meaning well below 32 degree nights and near 32 degree days. I might add that one should expect some changes to the specifics next week.

Temperatures are expected to modify somewhat close to or just after St Patrick's Day but the longer range ensembles have moved to weaken the jet in the Pacific and provide more support for colder weather generally thanks to a negative AO. Winter is likely going to continue through a good chunk of  the remainder of March and include another storm of significance between March 18th and 20th.

Monday, March 5, 2018

Vermont to score some decent snowfall late this week with 10-20 inches from Wednesday to Friday

There was a list of 2017-2018 snowfall amounts to date for eastern National Weather Service locations going around the twitter-sphere and Burlington was one of a very select few with below normal snowfall which means the Vermont snow hole is back. One of the reasons the "hole" has been so prevalent is the lack of events like the one we are expecting toward the middle to end of next week. Yes, we finally got one to trend our way and should get the added bonus of some terrain enhanced wrap-around snow, later Thursday, Friday and into the weekend. Ridiculous really that it took so long to score one of these types of events this season.

The northern Plains and Upper Midwest are getting snow and in some locations near blizzard-like conditions thanks to a strong wrapped up weather system that will occlude and gradually decay as it continues to head east. This occlusion will remain important since it will ultimately represent the general area moisture and instability that will park itself over Quebec, southeast Ontario and much of northern New England. The main area of precipitation will be concentrated around an area of low pressure that is expected to form around the Virginia Tidewater region Tuesday night, strengthen and proceed toward the eastern tip of Cape Cod Wednesday night, eventually passing just east of Cape Cod and into the Gulf of Maine Thursday morning. This track places the heaviest snow both south and east of Vermont but not by much. Even a 50 mile shift west would place a good chunk of the state into some pretty hefty snowfall with totals up to and exceeding a foot in a very short period of time. Right now it look like snow begins later on Wednesday, continues at a decent clip Wednesday evening and into the night and becomes more sporadic Thursday. But the accumulating snow should continue Thursday, Thursday night, Friday and even into early Saturday as lingering moisture will situate itself across the Green Mountains and will be converted into snowfall thanks to the terrain. I don't expect the snowfall to be especially heavy, but enough to produce 1-3 inch totals Thursday, and 2-4 inch totals Thursday night into Friday. The three day period beginning Wednesday and  ending Friday is thus capable of delivering 10-20 inches of fresh snow and maybe even more if we get lucky. Though the consistency of this snow could be a little wet in the valleys, I expect mostly powder above 2000 feet. Regarding wind, this is not as strong of a weather system compared to last week's super'easter but it will nonetheless be breezy late Wednesday with 10-20 mph northeast winds but calmer Thursday and Friday.Temperatures on the hill will generally be in the 20's throughout the late week period both morning and night.

Flurries and snow showers will continue even into Saturday and there may even be some snow on Sunday as well, though amounts, if any will be on the lighter side. Temperatures during the weekend will get into the lower 30's on the hill and fall into the 20's at night. By this point, the focus shifts toward the March 12-15th period for what is expected to be a major east coast jet amplification. What is it about these dates that seem to be so prone to the big events. 1993, 1999, 2005, 2007, 2014 and of course 2017 all were years with big snows at MRG during that time frame. Might 2018 be included in that list? Though it remains very possible since the pattern is ripe for a big event early next week, most of the data Monday has all the storminess well south of Vermont. The hypothetical event is a week out however and many scenarios remain on the table. Below average temperatures, which means mostly below freezing, will continue through all of next week whether we get the big snow or miss it. The mountain and many of the surrounding mountains will get another chance for a storm around St Patrick's Day weekend before the pattern becomes more "unblocked" and the Pacific becomes more active. This is expected to allow for the potential for some thawing by the time we get to March 19th-21st.

Saturday, March 3, 2018

Somewhat favorable pattern will produce some snow and seasonable temperatures through St Patrick's Day

Meteorologically speaking, the two most impressive events of the season were what many referred to as the "bomb cyclone" that hit on January 4th and the recent super'easter that smacked the I95 corridor with rain, wind and snow this past Friday. Both events grazed Mad River Glen and surrounding northern Vermont with a few inches of snow and wind but saved the best snow for varied locations to our south. In this recent instance, the block in the jet stream, which ultimately positioned itself over the Labrador Sea, was a bit too close to New England and prevented the storm from making the typical northward turn along the coast that most most do. Through about St Patrick's Day, the pattern looks decent, anchored mostly by the aforementioned blocking which will weaken somewhat over the next week. Weak ridging in the jet stream across the west will help yield what I think will be too fairly substantial east coast jet amplifications and this means chances for snow across Vermont over the next two weeks.

A rather unique looking upper air feature will slide southward in between two areas of jet ridging in Canada. There is a little dissension in the data over who gets the best snow out of this on Sunday and Sunday night but the clouds and light snow should be prevalent over the mountains of interior New England. For Vermont, it looks like some periodic light snow late Sunday and Sunday night worthy of about 2-4 inches. Flurries may continue into early Monday but much of the into Tuesday appears mostly cloudy with temperatures in the 30's during the day and 20's at night; in other words, very seasonable. Our next potential snow producer then arrives Tuesday night or Wednesday.

Over the last 4 days or so, very little has changed regarding this system. The central Rockies get hit with a big storm late this weekend and that storm will move out into the central and northern Plains this upcoming week, occlude and weaken. The remnants of the initial storm will spin its way eastward Tuesday and Tuesday night and by Wednesday we should see a bit of activity along the Atlantic Coast. The question now is, how much activity ? A decent coastal low pressure area would have the capability of producing good snows across Vermont in the Wednesday/Thursday time frame. Without any such low pressure area, the region will have to rely on the instability induced by the old remnants of the initial storm. In either case, the mountains should get some snow but the former case we could get over 10 inches. The "bigger" snow case is the more unlikely one right now unfortunately but still worth watching. The "lesser" snow case isn't a terrible one though since instability could linger all the way until the weekend allowing  snow shower to persist across the high country for several days.

As mentioned several times, there isn't much in the way of any intense cold in this pattern, even with the significant jet amplification. All of that is over Europe right now, but seasonable temperatures will continue throughout. The 2nd big jet amplification is then expected around the 1-year anniversary of our great Ides of March storm from last year. Could we pull something off yet again ? Something big is certainly possible though it remains 10 days out and then some.


Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Big storm poised to slam much of East Coast, but much of Vermont is just not positioned well for the best snow

Our late-week east coast storm is now taking shape and deserves a disproportionate amount of analysis this update. It's a big storm and a challenging one to forecast and will continue to be even within hours of the event. By Thursday morning the storm will be centered over Illinois and Indiana and move due eastward into Ohio and Pennsylvania before transitioning the bulk of its energy to either the New Jersey coastline or the Delmarva. The question of where this transition occurs is one of a few critical questions plaguing prognosticators as we get closer to event time. Fortunately, I only have to answer for Vermont but the storm will have a broad impact and will likely produce coastal flooding, heavy rain flooding, high winds and heavy snow in multiple states.

I continue to hold out hope that we see a shift in some of the data. This still could occur even at the eleventh hour and the high country of Vermont would perform exceptionally well. Given the current expectations and the data available to us, we are not in the greatest position to see heavy snowfall from this storm. The biggest issue with the storm is the following. With most storms, the best areas of precipitation are found to the north and to the west of the area of lowest central pressure. This varies depending on the character of the storm and specifically on the maturation of the storm. This particular storm is expected to undergo a very early maturation across the Midwest, peak somewhat across Ohio and then have a 2nd peak somewhere off the east coast after it makes its coastal transition. The early maturation is going to allow a strong upper air low pressure center to form and across Pennsylvania and close off. A closed upper low shifts the areas of best precipitation from the aforementioned north and west of the area of lowest central pressure to the west and south of the area of lowest central pressure. Essentially it takes all the moisture and rotates it counterclockwise 90-degrees, sometimes more, sometimes less depending on the strength of the upper air low and the occlusion. Vermont will be positioned decidedly north of the big low pressure center, not a bad position traditionally speaking but bad for a storm like this. We won't be where the coldest air is and we will have a tough time getting into some of the deep moisture which is likely to be confined to the south and west of us.

Our first day of March will be cooler than the last few in February but readings are expected to remain above freezing for the most part as both rain and snow advance into New York State. The snow is expected to become heavy over parts of central and most of western New York Thursday night and some of the moderate snow is expected to make some inroads into Vermont Friday morning but mainly across the high country with marginal temperatures supporting only mixed precipitation or rain in the low lying areas. The heavier precipitation might even reach the Mad River Valley for a time producing the same elevation sensitive snowfall. Given the current data however, the best snow will fall across the Finger Lakes region of New York, the Catskills of New York and the Pocono Plateau of Pennsylvania along with other elevated areas of northern Pennsylvania. If we get northward shift in subsequent data I would raise my expectations for Vermont but right now I think its 1-6 inches across the north and 4-10" across the south. It will range from not much of anything for locations like Jay Peak to perhaps as much as 10 across for the summits of places like Stratton and Mt Snow. The Catskills of New York will also see elevation sensitive snowfall but are in a much better position to get the deep moisture and are could see 2-3 feet of snow. Given the strength of the storm, we could see some very gusty north winds Friday even if its not snowing hard. 

Most of the precipitation will be over by Friday night in Vermont and across most of the east coast by early Saturday though the mountains could see flurries continue throughout the day along with temperatures in the 30's. Sunday will feature more of the same on temperatures but perhaps a little more sunshine. Early part of next week appears dry and at least partly sunny with seasonable March temperatures and calmer winds verses the weekend.

A very substantial amplification in the jet stream still appears likely by the middle of next week and thus another east coast storm is a likely result. Once again, this situation looks just a touch more promising but will require some big secondary east coast action to occur. The initial storm, as mentioned in the last post will likely occlude deep in the Midwest and won't be good for much of anything. This is a terrific pattern for all kinds of east coast action but we obviously just need the right kind of storm. Next week marks another good chance, but likely not the last as the "cool and stormy" mid latitude pattern is set to continue at least until the middle of March.


Monday, February 26, 2018

Late week storm track shifts southward just a bit and snow potential takes a hit as a result

Got a few more days upcoming that are more typical of late March weather. Muddy roads freezing overnight only to becoming muddier roads the following day as temperatures climb yet again. This will be the case for both Tuesday and Wednesday. Tuesday appears to be the sunnier of the two days, Wednesday will have more clouds but both will feature temperatures well up in the 40's across valley locations and 30's in the high country.

The big story remains the late week storm. A weak push of colder air will try and advance into Vermont late Wednesday. A wave of low pressure associated with this cold nudge will allow some snow to enter the state Wednesday evening. Unless we can gain access the the chillier weather a little quicker, most of the snow associated with this will fall from Stowe northward Wednesday night into early Thursday with 3-5 inches likely toward Jay Peak. Mad River is probably looking at a gloppier inch or two above 2000 feet and mainly mixed precipitation across the valleys. The rest of Thursday should be mainly overcast as the storm gathers strength across Indiana and Ohio.

I've alluded to the notion that a lot could go wrong with this storm. We've got a strong blocking feature in the jet stream northeast of us, a limited supply of cold air and a potential early occlusion as potential road blocks and it appears, based on the last 24 hours or so of data, that all 3 will pose a problem. Though the storm will gather a healthy supply of convective moisture and take a hard run at the Midwest metropolitan areas, it will swerve right across PA as it encounters more of the blocking in the let stream. This would be fine by itself, but the storm is likely going to close off across the Midwest as well which will confine much of the snowfall to the east-southeastward moving upper low rather than allow the snow to advance northward into New England as it typically does. Though this is still a nice looking storm, the best snowfall is likely to occur across the states of Michigan, Ohio and Pennsylvania rather than Vermont. Still, the frontogenetics across the region aren't terrible and the airmass doesn't appear overwhelmingly dry. There have been instances where the models have grossly underpredicted the northward advance  of the moisture in similar situations. The easiest example would be the early March event from 2001 (one of the greatest snow events ever for the state) which also was powered by a very negative NAO. I am thus retaining a small amount of hope for this storm but the data over the last 24 hours was, needless to say, not encouraging. Given current model trends, this system is likely to mostly be a non event for all of northern New England and southern New England may not do much better.

All hope is not lost for big snow however (at least not yet). We didn't get the trend we were looking for on the March 2nd event but the data is a bit more promising regarding a potential midweek event next week (March 7th or thereabouts). This is a slow evolving jet amplification that will again close off a bit early across the Midwest. There's a bit more available cold air with this one however and since the occlusion is likely to occur so far north in the Upper Midwest, there will be an opportunity for east coast action as the upper low advances slowly toward the coast. Another situation with a large upside potential but shut-out potential as well.

There's been some chatter in the weather circles about the warm arctic and cold wave currently gripping Europe including pictures of snow in Rome (Not Rome, NY). This relates to much of what we've discussed about the overall pattern configuration early in March with colder temperatures favored at the mid-latitudes and warmer temperatures favored at the north pole. There is stronger evidence today that some split flow in the jet stream could produce some fun stuff as we approach the middle of the month  and at the very least should keep the snow falling across the western ski areas. The cold is expected to peak across the east coast immediately following the potential storm next week before waning somewhat after March 10th. Still no indications of extreme below normal temperatures but the first half of March should at least feature a consistent run of sub-freezing nights and temperatures struggling to reach 40 during the days.

Saturday, February 24, 2018

Forecast growing more wintry both in the near term and as we head into March

Much of the state remains afflicted with a glaring lack of snow for late February. Seems to be some cynical attitudes out there but I know Mad River hasn't given up and I certainly haven't given up which is wise considering how we roared back to life last year. There's plenty to talk about anyway with some wintry weather expected Sunday and some big storm potential for the back end of the upcoming week in the first weekend of March.

A low pressure conglomeration will approach the region tonight as a weakened area of cold high pressure tries to establish a layer of temperatures supportive for a winter storm. We are late in the ball game here and the ingredients appear to be thrown together at the last second but we are very close to a decent winter storm across central and northern Vermont as precipitation arrives Sunday morning. Temperature profiles in the lower troposphere appear to be mostly supportive of a sleet event but looking more closely, the above freezing layer, though several thousand feet thick is awful close to the freezing mark, and may be incapable of melting the snow while the heaviest precipitation is falling during the mid and late morning hours Sunday. Surface temperatures are likely to hover around the 30-34 mark (depending on elevation) but we should see a decent period of sleet and snow mixed with a period of heavy snow possible at some point before noon. The farther north you go across the state, the higher snow/sleet accumulations will be. Across the Mad River Valley, I would expect a dense 1-4 inches. It will make for a good foundation layer though I know it's a bit late in the season to care about that.

It does not look especially chilly in the wake of Sunday's precipitation mixture. With the help of sunshine, Monday and Tuesday, the last two in what has been a disappointing February will be spring-like with readings soaring into the middle 40's while dropping into the 20's at night. Wednesday should feature more clouds but similar temperatures.

In spite of the continuation of mild weather, the large block across Greenland will be building as advertised and will cause big changes in the behavior of the jet stream going into March.  The negative NAO will be aided by a negative AO and a weakened Pacific jet stream and is likely going to produce one of the more sustained stretches of wintry weather we have seen since early January. We don't have the support from the PNA however and in addition, it's March, so the intensity of the chill just won't be there. There should be plenty of discussion relating to storms however. Some will miss, some will hit but I will rather boldly suggest that the end of March could feature more snow on the ground than the beginning.

Talk of storms begins right now with a potentially big one in the works, bringing precipitation to the east coast as early as late on Thursday. The storm is expected to gather strength in the central Plains, make a direct run at some of the major Midwest metropolitan centers like Detroit and Chicago and then get forced eastward and perhaps even south of eastward as the very mighty block in Greenland puts an end to the run of warmer storm tracks. The setup has a ton of potential but remains a tenuous one. Cold air is lacking as evidenced by the warm forecast leading up to the storm. If the storm gathers strength and closes off too hard and too early, warm air could get sucked right into New England in spite of the favorable storm track. The storm might also get shunted too far south.

I can say this much as of now. If we can attain access to the healthy conveyor of moisture associated with this storm, we should get decent amounts of snow. The big accumulations might be confined to the mountains above 2000 feet but there's a very lofty best case scenario so stay tuned. The storms evolution along the east coast coast is also a question and mark and the possibility of a stall along the coast exists. Precipitation timing hypothetically speaking would involve a start around Thursday evening, continuing through Friday and quite possibly into Saturday given the right kind of east coast "stall". 

Another potential storm follows around the time of March 5th. This was part of the reason the American GFS model was suggesting 4-5 feet of snow yesterday in Vermont but data over the last 24 hours has this system well south of us. Lots of time remains however so lets wait and watch.

Biggest reason to be optimistic relates to my good friend who is the biggest snow-magnet I've ever seen in my life. Every where he goes, mother nature delivers 3 feet. He plans on arriving in Vermont late Friday.

Thursday, February 22, 2018

Won't get much help from the precipitation producers this weekend, could be a different story late next week though

It was El Torchy extraordinaire on Wednesday as historically warm temperatures encompassed the entire east coast including Vermont. Readings were well into the 60's way up on the mountain and touched 70 in a few spots across the low lying valleys. The excessive warmth was the result of a ridge in the jet stream which could rival conditions one might see in a summer. That ridge has been beaten back somewhat as of late this week and will continue to gradually diminish in the days to come. Needless to say, the Vermont snowpack took quite a hit and the northern part of the state missed out on some surprise snowfall that impacted parts of central and western New York and parts of Massachusetts.

Active weather will continue as subtropical moisture feeds a rather intense clashing of air masses as we enter the last full weekend of February. Tough temperatures have returned to below freezing levels, the area of cold will become stale as precipitation arrives from an innocuous area of low pressure that will pass to the region's northwest. Sleet should arrive during the afternoon across much of the central and northern part of the state and will change to a period of freezing rain during the evening. The precipitation won't amount to much and most of it will end by Saturday morning. The rest of Saturday appears balmy yet again, perhaps not the 60-degree kind of warmth we saw Wednesday but readings should climb into the 40's and the clouds should give way to some blue sky as the day progresses. A low pressure area of more substance will bring clouds back into the region Saturday night. As this is happening, a very minimal amount of cold air will drain into northern New England from the northeast. Though the primary area of low pressure is expected to track to our northwest again Sunday, severely denting our chances at significant snow, the subtropical connection will help a new area of low pressure to form along the southern New England coastline. Though we won't see the big snow, as mentioned, temperatures are likely to remain close to the freezing mark with a mix of wintry precipitation beginning Sunday morning. My guess right now is for a brief period of wet snow Sunday morning followed by some sleet, freezing rain and some rain, especially in the Champlain Valley. The mountains are likely to finish the the weekend with more "white" than when they started, but it will be sloppy and you'll have to head pretty far north to get out of that "slop".

The early part of next week through Wednesday March 1 appears milder with readings up around 40 during the day and in the 20's at night. Aside from some flurries in the northern mountains Monday, these days appear tranquil with decent amounts of sunshine both Tuesday and Wednesday. Then it gets interesting. It always seems to  happen when a big Greenland jet stream blocking feature enters the ball game and that's exactly what will transpire as we approach the first full weekend of March. A storm will approach from the west and like its predecessors, will head fake a Great Lakes -> Canadian province track. Not this time however. The blocked jet stream across the Davis Straits and Greenland is likely to force the storm south and perhaps really hog-tie it to the Atlantic Coastline. That's where all the craziness could ensue with all kinds of precipitation along with wind and coastal flooding. There is a glaring lack of arctic cold available but it doesn't appear excessively mild either.  So long as Vermont attains access to one of the storms moist conveyors, we should be able to get a decent elevation event at the very least. The blocking across Greenland is very severe however and is certainly capable of suppressing all of the precipitation to the south.

The storm late next week, wherever it goes, marks a general shift in the jet stream personality across not only North America but a large portion of the Northern Hemisphere. By the time of March 5th, the pattern will favor cooler weather across middle latitude locations and warmer conditions across the high latitude areas. Not a bad looking set up for March skiing not only for Vermont but also out west which has finally turned the corner in recent weeks and has gotten some decent snow. Vermont just needs the precip in March. If we get it, we should see some snow and perhaps significant amounts of it, if the jet sags too far south, it will mean a rather useless stretch of cooler weather.

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Pattern to become gradually more supportive of snowfall after Wednesday Feb 21, but only slight chance we get some first aid by the end of weekend

El torchy has managed to get its hands on the state of Vermont. Some of the rainfall that's impacted the northern half to third of the state will push northward Tuesday night and allow for some limited sunshine Wednesday. This will allow temperatures to reach the excessive levels that many have already seen in the forecast. Even at the base of MRG, readings are likely to reach 60 while temperatures reach the 50's even across the high country. Though the corn horn will surely be sounding, the combination of winds and the excessive temperatures are sure to put a massive dent in the snow pack by Wednesday night. A strong cold front will allow some modified arctic air to drop into the region by early Thursday and temperatures are expected to be well below freezing as a result (20 degrees).

The weekend forecast has gained a bit of intrigue but we aren't where we need to be just yet. The strong Nina-like southeast upper ridge will still be a major player, but the falling NAO index is seeking to be part of the weekend equation and will likely keep El Torchy at bay somewhat. Subtropical moisture is also expected to be involved in what appears to be two garden variety precipitation producers. The decaying of cold weather will still be in place Friday and may allow for a period of snow or mixed precipitation Friday afternoon before precipitation ends as rain or a bit of freezing rain depending on your location Friday evening or at night. Saturday will then become mild though readings should stay in the 30's and 40's this time while a 2nd storm system gets better organized in the southern Plains and tracks northeastward toward the lakes. This 2nd system has virtually not cold air to work with at the start, but a limited amount of Canadian chill could get entrained into the storm if the storm's energy makes a decisive transfer to the Atlantic coast. Models weren't especially keen on that idea Tuesday afternoon but it remains a possibility. As of now, rain, mixed precipitation and snow could all happen Sunday and though the chances of significant snow remain small, it does exist.

Temperatures are expected to remain on the milder side of average through early next week and thus the remainder of the month but the excessive thawing will be over. Readings will generally be in the higher 30's Monday and lower 30's Tuesday. We will be watching some sort of storm, hopefully a strong one for later in the week. The big southeast ridge will be almost dead and by that point the negative NAO will begin driving the pattern for a time. We don't want to kill the warm ridge off too quickly or we might just see a suppressed storm track later in the week. Additional storms are likely in the week to follow but the question will revolve entirely on the track.  Without the support of the PNA and only a slightly weakened Pacific Jet, the temperature outlook early in March doesn't look especially cold; in fact, it may not even be below average but the pattern does support snowfall given the right storm. 

Sunday, February 18, 2018

A big push of spring-like warmth is on the way

All things considered, Vermont ski country managed to do decently well this holiday weekend. Our massive spring-like wave of warmth is coming however and it would be accurate to refer to it as "warm" as opposed to "mild". Temperatures will be near 20 to start our 2018 President's Day Monday but gradually warm past the freezing mark as clouds advance into the region. By the time precipitation arrives in association with this formidable warm front late in the day Monday, temperatures will be up around 40 and rain will be the result. For much of Monday night into Tuesday, the aforementioned front will remain situated in close enough proximity (roughly the Canadian border) to keep the showery weather and clouds close. Rainfall will be more prevalent, the farther north you are in Vermont but the Mad River Valley and most of the rest of the state will be decidedly in the warm sector. This means temperatures make a push into the 50's Tuesday and the corn horn gets blown. Wednesday appears downright tropical. The surge of warmth makes another northward push allowing for a good amount of sunshine to mix down some of the excessive mid-level warmth. Readings are likely to reach 60 even at the base of MRG (1700 feet or so) and well into the 60's across the low lying valleys.

A cold front will put an end to the spring extravaganza Wednesday night and will bring a few showers to the region as it does so, though heavy rain is not expected. Temperatures will remain well above average and in many areas, above freezing Thursday but will finally cool into the 20's Thursday night thanks to a clear sky and calm winds. Friday appears quite sunny for much of the day with temperatures approaching or crossing the freezing mark but clouds in advance of the next storm system may make an appearance at some point before evening. This weekend weather producer has more subtropical juice and only a minimal amount of cold weather. Most importantly, models are concurring that it tracks up through the central or eastern Great Lakes. Precipitation may start as a mixed bag early Saturday and then change to ice and rain as the day progresses. It would be wise to leave some leg-room for changes as we get closer to the weekend but the prevailing weather pattern is quite mild which encourages these types of storm tracks. Saturday's precipitation might also not be the last of the weekend weather though it is tough to tell as of now what type of storm might follow, if at all for Sunday or Monday.

Changes in the jet stream are expected to occur on time and a block is expected to form close to Greenland by early next week. This will put an end to the excessive temperatures across eastern North American generally but readings will only slowly drop in Vermont. Temperatures are likely to spend a chunk of the last weekend in February above freezing and this might continue into Monday and Tuesday. The February 28th/March 1st time frame is finally when we get our first legitimate shot at some new snow but arctic air appears to have a very minimal presence over New England and any day where precipitation isn't falling, temperatures are likely to climb above freezing.