Some good news and bad news on this first Friday of 2018. Relative to about any place in the country, winter has raged the hardest in New England. Near record-breaking cold, epic East Coast bombs and 50-below wind chills, we've certainly done it right so far and have a decent early January base of snow to show for it. Trouble is staring at us in the face however and it seems to be getting worse and worse with each new round of data. We have some good news with the storm early next week, which appears disconnected from the warmer southern streamer, albeit weaker. This will extend the stretch of sub-freezing days on the upper mountain to over a month. After that, there's all kinds of trouble. The jet stream in the Pacific will tighten some and blocking will weaken some, which in itself isn't all too terrible. Then the jet stream in the Pacific will tighten further and the blocking completely vanishes. It all boils down to two glaring trouble spots over the next 2 weeks or so.
Unless you've been asleep for 2 straight weeks, you are well aware of the intense cold this weekend. Saturday still appears blustery but not quite as bad as Friday and sunshine should make an appearance. Winds will subside further Sunday with temperatures inching above zero late in the ski day. 5 degrees, less wind and a little bit of sun will feel balmy after the last two weeks. Monday's storm system is really nothing more than a clipper. We should expect some periodic light snow throughout the day. The disconnection with the moist southern streamer means less precipitation and therefore less snow, but it also means no freezing rain. A modest 2-5 inches is my first guess right now followed by some terrain induced snow Monday night into early Tuesday.
The back half of Tuesday into Wednesday appear relatively tranquil and certainly a lot milder than our recent stretch of weather but not yet above-freezing. If your looking to hit the slopes ahead of any warmer weather, Wednesday might be the day to do it because the end of the week appears to be the first potentially problematic scenario. The weather pattern appeared capable of at least partially resisting a dramatic capitulation of cold. Recent modeling has consolidated some slow moving jet energy in the southern plains late next week while the polar jet both recedes and flattens. Not sure I am completely sold on this outcome but it would be a bad outcome, with mild air flooding northward all the way to the St Lawrence Valley. A less consolidated system might still allow for a day or two of mild weather but arctic air would remain close enough to give us a fighting chance. Almost everything I've examined suggests some rain late next week and at least a day of very mild weather. There's a chance it could get really mild and really rain.
January 17th -20th appears to be the other trouble spot on the somewhat foreseeable horizon.It's the "Evil Empire" making, its first appearance since October. For our newer readers, my "Evil Empire" is a giant ridge in the central mid-latitude Pacific Ocean that acts to tighten and flatten the jet stream in the northern latitude Pacific. This forces arctic air into retreat mode every time and is likely going to mean a second round of very mild air. In between the mild air late next week (ending Jan 13), and the mild air late in the 2nd week (ending Jan 20, there are indications of a jet amplification and a potential storm capable of delivering snow or at least precipitation. The time frame for that is Sunday-Monday January 14th and 15th.