Think Snow, Tweet Snow !!!

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Colder outlook for interior New England over the next 10 days ensures snow will stick around until early April

Bitterly cold temperatures and up to 6 inches of fresh pow greeted skiers on the mountain Wednesday. The latest blast of chill sent temperatures in to the single digits within a few hours and this would be cold by January standards. For cold weather lovers, enjoy it, because this is likely to be the last healthy blast of mid-winter-like chill we'll see until next year. Make no mistake, the outlook into next week looks quite a bit colder today but the jet stream will assume a more spring-like appearance and the weather map will be devoid of the bursts of arctic cold that have so characterized the current month of March. This is not to say we won't see more snowfall, we likely will, but with temperatures substantially closer to the freezing mark.


Readings Thursday morning will hover around zero for what will probably be the last time until next ski season. Bright March sunshine will go to work and will help make for a comfortable winter afternoon with temperatures in the 20's and minimal amounts of wind. More clouds are expected Friday and temperatures will quickly warm toward the freezing mark. Precipitation is expected to arrive by midday and although a brief 1-2 hour period of snow is likely at the start, rain and a few pockets of freezing rain should prevail through much of the afternoon and into the early evening.


There was talk mostly yesterday on Twitter of some snow across parts of interior New England this weekend and some of this was justified even if it wasn't entirely likely across a widespread area. The jet stream will produce a nice confluence area in eastern Canada even as the polar jet is receding. Such a feature allows healthy pool of arctic cold to establish itself across Quebec and this airmass will provide some serious resistance against the encroaching milder spring weather. Just as the mild weather begins overtaking Vermont and New Hampshire late Friday, the cold from Quebec will reassert itself by later Saturday. Though it wouldn't be impossible, snowfall doesn't appear likely. The aforementioned airmass will dry it out late on Saturday and send temperatures below freezing again Saturday night but a better organized weather system that appears well-supplied with moisture will approach on Sunday and although the forecast appears colder, it probably won't be cold enough. Freezing rain or sleet would be my guess right now, beginning Sunday and persisting in some fashion through Sunday night. Though appearing more to be a travel head-ache than a big powder producer, this storm should be watched as the situation as already evolved quite a bit from a few days ago.


The storminess is expected to continue into next week and although the jet stream, as mentioned, will appear more spring-like, the cold centered in eastern Canada will be hard-pressed to give ground. The outlook thus looks substantially colder and likely devoid of 50-degree temperatures. The weather map will look messy also and models have struggled to reach an agreement of the specifics of precipitation. Expect lots of clouds early in the week and poor visibility with temperatures hovering just above the freezing mark. A more organized area of precipitation is likely to impact the region during the Tuesday-Wednesday time frame although this could change. The most intriguing part this potential storm system are the hints that a "4th quarter" jet amplification across eastern New England brings the possibility of significant snowfall into play in a week where a few days ago, this appeared completely unlikely. If this does happen, it won't be especially cold with temperatures in the 20's and low 30's but again, certainly no 50. At the very least, it ensures that the recent big snowfall will stick around until early April.

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Winter takes a last gasp this week before capitulating to much milder spring weather

A couple of bluebird days over the recent weekend made MRG a great place to enjoy last week's  massive snowfall. Temperatures have begun to advance above the freezing mark near the base which is no surprise, it's late March and a full day of sunshine will make it very difficult to stay sub-32 for the entire day. This type of weather should continue into Monday and Tuesday with some sunshine on the former and more clouds on the latter.


As promised, another blast of Arctic air arrives very late on Tuesday. There is a rather potent polar jet disturbance associated with the advance of this cold and this should allow for a burst or two of snow either Tuesday night or very early Wednesday. Much of the best snowfall associated with this is, at least right now, indicated to be north of MRG but 1-3 inches is still the likeliest outcome by early Wednesday. This airmass is of the rather shallow and dry variety so the terrain enhancement that we've enjoyed so much of this year is not as likely. Wednesday will be very cold for late March with temperatures struggling to eclipse 10 degrees during the day and falling below zero over the deep late March snow cover Wednesday night. The end of the week will see temperatures moderate quickly with decent amounts of sun both Thursday and Friday. Readings on Thursday should stay in the 20's but advance past 40 by Friday.


The retreat of the cold weather late this week will indeed mark a behavioral shift in the weather out of the recent full-on winter mode and consistent with that of middle Spring. Now lets be honest, we've already been through this once in late February, when the weather resembled something more typical of April and our deep snow was obliterated. The shift was amazingly quick and so was the loss of our snow. This could happen once again as the jet stream in the Pacific is expected to dramatically tighten and we lack the support of any of the key teleconnection indices that we regularly track. Saturday March 25th could turn out to feature some excessive warmth though there is some lingering Arctic chill in Quebec that could at least delay the mild push of weather for a day or two. The last 5-6 days of March all look pretty mild and unless we see some dramatic changes in this longer range outlook, I would expect lots of 50 degree weather and lots of mud on the dirt roads.

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Outlook looks mostly cold through March 24th though our snow-prospects have been downgraded

Snow continues to fly as of Wednesday evening and a few more bursts early Wednesday night should bring our total into the 30-35 inch range (I actually thought we were there already but I wasn't the one keeping score). What an incredible storm !  One felt by the entire state and one that was especially generous to ski country. It was an ironic twist in a "twisted" winter that almost 3 feet of beautiful, skiable and not particularly windblown snow now covers many areas with a non-existent base. We literally did need almost every inch from this storm to turn to get this epic day we all hoped might happen next year.

This is the type of storm that can be enjoyed for several days and it's a good thing because our snow prospects have probably been downgraded as of the time of this update. Flurries should continue into a good part of Thursday and some additional snow should greet skiers by the time the lifts open. Cold weather will also continue with temperatures well below freezing (high's only in the teens Thursday) and brisk winds. The cold weather will continue on Friday and Saturday. Friday should feature some sunshine and less winds making the 20-25 degree temperatures feel balmy.

A much smaller winter storm is expected to impact the northeast on Saturday. The storm and most of its associated jet energy is expected to undercut a receding polar jet stream and amplify offshore. Most of the precipitation is expected to remain south of northern Vermont though that hasn't been entirely decided. Right now I would probably include some light snow in a forecast for Saturday but I am doubtful whether it amounts to much given trends in some of the data. Southern Vermont and the Berkshires could certainly score a few inches and the Connecticut hills might end up doing the best. Any warm-up for the weekend though has basically been thwarted and snow conditions should remain powdery, if not increasingly packed through Sunday morning. A strong late March sun on Sunday March 19th could push temperatures past the freezing mark close to the base.

For next week we have another surge of cold weather to talk about. It may not arrive until late Tuesday which leaves the opportunity for a few above-freezing afternoons Monday and perhaps Tuesday. This is entirely normal in mid-March if we are not fully immersed in arctic chill. When such arctic chill does arrive late Tuesday it could bring some snow with it though it remains to be seen how much. The cold weather from this airmass should persist through Friday and this essentially means snow from the recent storm will cover the slopes until then.

A large storm may impact the region around the time of the aforementioned Friday March 24th and continue into Saturday March 25th. There are clear indications that the cold weather will receding but it doesn't necessarily mean that the storm in question can't produce snow. It's certainly possible that some snow falls and the storm might include a whole allotment of precipitation types before it exits the region. After that, there are visible indications of a turn to more spring-like weather. We haven't had a lot of support from any of the teleconnection indices during most of the winter and it certainly doesn't look like we will have much help in late March. This would mean a mild finish to a very topsy-turvy month though we could again see changes to this outlook. Anyway, hope everyone got a chance to enjoy the storm. It was certainly one of the more memorable ones in the 12 or so years I've been doing the blog.

Monday, March 13, 2017

20-30 inches should put us back in business !

Has there ever been a day more worthy of a special supplemental update. Perhaps one or two, but days like this should be treasured. We made the simple request yesterday that the upcoming big winter storm, which will qualify as a blizzard in many areas, to track 50-100 miles further west. Request granted ! That is exactly what the data is pointing to as of Monday afternoon. The last beautiful piece of info had the storm tracking close to Braintree, MA Tuesday evening. It doesn't get much better than that folks (It actually can, but that's ok). In addition, the storm looks especially powerful, capable of producing coastal flooding, gale force wind gusts and near white-out conditions. Were it not for the storms relatively brisk pace of movement, snowfall totals would be historic and comparable to Valentines Day '07 and March 4-6 2001.


Snow should begin around daybreak Tuesday and perhaps an hour or two earlier if we get lucky. The snow should be relatively steady for a time and then become incredibly intense during the afternoon and evening when we might see 3 inch an hour snowfall rates for a period of several hours. As we approach midnight Wednesday, the intensity of the snow will diminish somewhat but should nonetheless continue through much of the day ski day. So for the folks asking about the upslope, yes, we will receive a substantial terrain enhanced accumulation Wednesday bringing snowfall totals to the 20-30 inch category. So on the 3 year anniversary of what was one of our last true 2-footers, we are officially expecting another. As far as winds are concerned, they will be very strong Tuesday evening, Tuesday night and most of Wednesday. Directionally speaking winds should be blowing from the north late Tuesday and Tuesday night and northwest Wednesday.  Temperatures on the mountain should range between 8-16 during most of Tuesday and 10-20 most of Wednesday but winds will of course make those readings feel colder.


We also got better news regarding weather system for the upcoming weekend. It looks better positioned to deliver us some additional snowfall though I continue to expect changes as this remains a difficult storm to pin down. Generally speaking however, we continue to have a very winter-like outlook through March 24th

Sunday, March 12, 2017

Looks like we can count on about 8 inches from big Tuesday storm and maybe a lot more

The frigid temperatures in Vermont Saturday were the coldest in a relative sense since February 26th and almost the coldest of the entire winter season. On the mountain, temperatures climbed to about 6 which was only 2 degrees warmer than where they were on December 16th. Impressive stuff given that we are well into the month of March. I know, I know, it's cold and so what, can we bag this storm or can't we already ?


As of midday Sunday, models are still fighting it out over small details but remain supportive of mostly the same consensus that was established a few days ago. A strong low pressure center will take shape near Cape Hatteras Monday evening and rapidly intensify while moving northeastward. The center of the storm will pass just east of Cape Cod Tuesday evening. From there, the storm will move quickly in the Canadian Maritimes. This "consensus" has Mad River Glen on the northwestern edge of the swath of heaviest snowfall with amounts in the 8-16 inch range. The snow would begin early Tuesday, the heaviest snowfall would occur Tuesday evening and light snow and blustery conditions would continue into Wednesday.


In spite of this relatively stable "consensus" we have seemingly established, models have repositioned themselves in could almost be called a complete "about face". The American GFS model has the storm tracking roughly 75 miles east of Cape Cod, the European ECMWF has the center of the storm within eyesight of Provincetown while our beloved Canadian model has the storm passing just east of Boston. The trend in the latter two models mentioned is certainly encouraging and it leaves me once again anxiously awaiting another run of the Euro. Though Boston snow lovers would likely flip me off, nothing would please me more than seeing their snow totals get held down by a changeover to rain while MRG scores that elusive 2-3 footer. It's close folks, I wouldn't forecast that quite yet but that outcome has not yet been eliminated.


We can certainly be assured of a continued stretch of subfreezing temperatures. This began Thursday in spite of our disappointing snowfall totals and will likely continue into the upcoming weekend. The bigger questions involves the outcome of another potential winter storm. The storm will appear rather innocuous as a broken piece of what will be some rather intense storminess in the Gulf of Alaska this upcoming week. In typical early spring fashion, the storm is indicated to undercut a receding polar jet which is good and bad. The good is that it won't warm excessively on the weekend of the 18th and 19th, the bad relates to the fact that the storm might pass well south of northern New England. There will almost certainly be changes as to the particulars of this forecast period so stay tuned.


What appears more certain is that our mildest day over the next 10-12 days occurs around Monday March 20th. The 21st-23rd should feature a good surge of cold weather that will ensure a continuation of winter through at least the end of the week. There are hints of milder weather way out toward the end of March but this is too far out on the horizon.

Friday, March 10, 2017

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

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


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


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


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


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

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Some extreme March chill this weekend is followed by big snow potential Tues March 14th

Another day passes with the Single Chair sitting idle yet the forecast continues to look more and more wintry as we head further and further into March. Fortunately we have finally reached a point where we can talk more specifically about new snow rather than wonder about the "if" and "when" of such an occurrence.


The mixed precipitation Wednesday will change to snowfall with temperatures hovering just below the freezing mark through much of Wednesday night and Thursday. The snowfall will be of the terrain enhanced upslope variety and should amount to 3-5 inches by late in the day with more falling north of I89. Valley locations should see warmer temperatures and considerably less if not any snowfall. We also have a polar vortex to talk about. Though discussed in the last update, we haven't used such words in a while. This PV will track from the lower Hudson Bay to northern Maine by Saturday. Extreme chill will accompany this feature and begin its infiltration of Vermont on Friday. Models are somewhat split on whether there is enough support for accumulating snow as the arctic air arrives Friday. A storm system that is poised to bring rain and snow to Pennsylvania and New Jersey might rob northern New England of its upward motion but for now I am going to suggest an additional 1-2 inches Friday with temperatures plummeting through the 20's. Our upcoming weekend looks devoid of snowfall but extremely cold for mid-March. Temperatures will struggle to reach 10 on the mountains Saturday and after readings of -5 to -10 Sunday morning, afternoon readings will struggle to reach 15 in spite of full sunshine.


The intensity of the chill will relax just somewhat on Monday but by then we will be watching what appears to be a sizable winter storm. This folks, is our best shot at big snow since the middle of February and it could prove to be one of the biggest winter storms for the entirety of New England spanning the whole season. Cold air, jet energy and a plethora of Atlantic moisture are all present, but we just have to hope that Vermont get a full dose of the results. We could get innocuously grazed or we could get the 2-footer we've been looking for. Right now, confidence is high that a strong low pressure center will be in the vicinity of Cape Cod on Tuesday evening March 14th but it all depends on how close this system is to the coast once it consolidates. Most of the potential snowfall would fall Tuesday in such a scenario.


More cold weather is expected in the days following the potential storm and when the cold weather relaxes somewhat toward St Patrick's Day and the weekend of the 18th and 19th smaller amounts of snow are possible from what is likely to be overrunning. The jet stream in the Pacific is expected to remain dominated by relative looseness which is good news in the longer range. Some indications of the Bering Sea block remain which is a big driver of this. I would expect a move toward milder temperatures around the time frame of the 19th and 20th but this will be followed by another period of cold weather that should be accompanied by more snowfall.