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Sunday, January 22, 2017

Monday/Tuesday storm details and additional snowfall in the days to follow

Spring-like late March weather continues in Vermont but 36 is better than 50 and that's what we had on Saturday and we will see more of that on Sunday. Drier and slightly colder air will advance into the region late on Sunday and every bit of dry and every bit of cool is vital as our next storm advances toward the coast and then up the coast on Monday. 

I think we have a better handle on some of the specifics with this storm as of Saturday evening. We will get both temperatures and dewpoints down into the 20's on Monday morning as precipitation advances up through New York state and into New England. Readings will rise into the 30's during the day but should fall back into the 28-31 degree range as precipitation beings Monday night. It remains a very close call but it looks like a classic situation where the heaviest precipitation should fall as snow. We could actually see some fairly heavy snow for a few hours and I am inclined to think that 4-8 inches of relatively wet snow is a best guess by first tracks time Tuesday. There is some data out there indicating more sleet and freezing rain and when precipitation rates let up toward daybreak Tuesday, this is certainly possible if not likely for a while. As Tuesday progresses, the upper level low responsible for this big storm will approach the region and allow the critical layers of the atmosphere to cool enough for another few periods of snow and some additional accumulation, especially up past the mid-station. When it's all said and done, accumulations will probably be in the 4-8 inch range near the base but 8-12 inches at the summit. The snow consistency will be pretty dense, especially at the base and a bit gloppy on Tuesday but a little more powdery up near the top. I am certainly happy we can avoid a rain event, especially in this god-awful pattern we are immersed in but this storm could have been a 2 footer if the intensification of this storm could have followed through off shore. Instead, the storm will peak out east of the Delmarva around midnight Tuesday and weaken somewhat as it approaches Cape Cod. 

More above-freezing temperatures will impact parts of the mountain on Wednesday but this will  be the last of any melting for while. A weakening storm system will approach from the Midwest and bring some limited moisture with it. Precipitation will be snow but will be relatively light. Moist flow from the Great Lakes and Lake Champlain plus some instability will put the terrain induced snow machine into action Thursday and snow showers should be prevalent for much of the day. Some parts of the Green Mountains will do better than others, it looks like farther north will do better right now but Mad River should receive a few inches of snow at least between late Wednesday into Thursday. Temperatures should remain near 30 on Thursday and remain in the 20's Friday. There are additional disturbances over the last full weekend of January that should add to the snow totals. Right now, it looks like this particular weekend could be a real winner. 

I'll discuss the longer range in greater detail in subsequent updates but the effects of a large ridge which will temporarily build across western North America will provide the region with a stretch of cold weather which will persist through the first few days of February. This ridge is expected to collapse quickly however and the PNA goes negative. This means more storminess for the west and less widespread cold for the east. That said there are a few teleconnection indices that will help to keep New England wintry even as the rest of the east coast warms and I'll maintain for now that the start of the month looks pretty good. 

Friday, January 20, 2017

Tuesday storm is a very close call but our outlook certainly looks snowier overall

The outlook for next week continues to evolve and has gotten more interesting but we are not across the finish line yet. Tuesday's storm is a very close call right now and will need to be discussed in more detail in order to make sense of where we are at with this thing. There is also some new snow potential for the rest of next week and a better outlook as we head toward the month of February.

Our weekend forecast remains cloudy with somewhat less visibility than I advertised a few days ago. There is some very light rain or drizzle that is possible late in the day on Saturday along with temperatures at or slightly above the freezing mark. Sunday is more of the same, but any dampness should dry out later in the day.

We will indeed be provided with a needed bit of dry Canadian cold late Sunday into Monday. We discussed this in the last update as a necessary ingredient if we were to have any shot at snow on Tuesday. The jet streak in the Davis Straits will deliver on its part of the equation. We then have our monster weather system which will proceed from the Mississippi Valley to the Tennessee Valley on Sunday and strengthen as it does so. It will then transfer some of its energy to the Mid Atlantic coast and move toward coastal New England Monday. Precipitation will advance into New England late on Monday and continue into Tuesday with what looks to be extremely marginal temperatures. Models trended cooler for successive days but that trend stopped last night with the American GFS reverting back to a warmer storm.  This might be why many of you are seeing the rain icon show up in your smartphone weather outlooks. These icons can be sensitive to changing GFS runs. What we are missing in this GFS forecast and a big reason as to why it went warmer is the lack of a coastal "bomb". The storm is shown to strengthen onshore, peak over the state of Tennessee but never restrengthen off the coast which a lot of big coastal storms do. The Euro model shows a bit more strengthening offshore but the intensification is not shown to follow through as the storm approaches Cape Cod. The Canadian is the best model for us and thus shows the most snow. Temperatures are close enough however to make for an elevation event. In addition, precipitation should stay snow as long as precipitation rates are moderate to heavy. Lighter precipitation is more likely to fall as rain. Also, unless the outlook turns cooler, snowfall will be wet except for perhaps the highest 1000 feet (above 3,000 feet). Right now, I would expect a gloppy 4-8 inches at the base and a slightly less wet 8-12 at the summit. Valley locations will not perform especially well and will receive nothing more than 1-3. The Champlain Valley probably gets next to nothing. Precipitation begins sometime on Monday and is likely heaviest Monday night or Tuesday.

Wednesday looks like a dry and somewhat mild day but by Thursday, another system will approach. There is some speculation about where this storm will track and it is not expected to strengthen as it proceeds by us on Thursday. It will however provide us with some limited moisture for snowfall and help to usher in colder more winter-like Temperatures in its wake. Lingering instability will enhance the window for new show through much of Friday making new snow very likely as we head toward the last weekend of February.

The big weapon we have in our favor very late in January and moving into February is the weakened jet stream in the Pacific or the negative EPO. A large ridge in the jet stream will temporarily position itself over western North America but we never get a needed high latitude block or a fully negative Arctic Oscillation (AO) to ensure successive weeks of cold weather. It looks instead like a decent burst of cold toward the end of the month into early February and then a pattern that looks closer to normal as we move later into February. This still constitutes a much better outlook compared to what we've experienced over the last 10 days, it just doesn't guarantee that every storm will come up roses for us.

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Trying to make the most of very limited amounts of cold weather

It's winter again and interior New England is about the only place east of the Mississippi River seeing any of it. The west is about to get another stormy onslaught and that storminess will progress across the country and keep the forecasting relatively busy as we get to next week's outlook. The weather pattern is not a cold one and won't allow for much in the way of cold air to be available. By the end of next week, the weather pattern is still expected to turn more supportive but this remains more than a week away.

We have a couple of dry and mild days ahead of us, more typical of March than January with temperatures in the high 30's during the day and 20's during the night. Not idea by any stretch but better than what the excess warmth which will grip much of the Upper Midwest through the weekend. The forecast has also dried out late Friday into Saturday. There was a risk of some sleet or freezing rain has diminished. If we see any of that it will be pretty minimal; in fact much of the weekend will be dry and tranquil with good visibility and nothing more than a high overcast if even that.

Meanwhile a monster of a storm will spin its way into significance in the Lower Mississippi Valley late this weekend. This storm will be a big severe weather producer across the Southeast U.S. and will advance toward the Mid-Atlantic coastline on Monday with a ginormous amount moisture. It is a very favorable track for a big snow but we are really lacking on the cold air as mentioned. With this said, the game has gotten just a little closer in the last 24 hours. There is notable jet streak near the Davis Straits and this becomes the "Help me Obi-Wan Kenobe, you're my only hope" moment. Could this feature be the 2nd in a week to save us from rain ? We need temperatures to be about 3-4 degrees cooler than currently forecast to turn this into an elevation event. 5-6 degrees cooler and we could be in for a lot of snow. The aforementioned feature needs to supply us with just a little more cold air and we are off to the races. Yeah, this still just a little better than a  pipe dream but worth noting because of the strength and size of this storm. Though not the most likely outcome, a few degrees cooler and we could receive more than 2 feet of elevation sensitive snow. Worth watching for early next week but lets keep expectations in check for now.

Gradually temperatures will turn cooler as the week progresses but readings will remain well above average (even if it snows on Monday and Tuesday). By Friday we could see the impact of another storm system which will likely be the trigger for a more substantial cool down. Weaker disturbances during the middle of the week could provide a little snow or mixed precipitation but anything after Friday should fall in the form of snow. The softening jet in the Pacific and the building ridge across western Canada should make for the most ideal period since December in the days leading up to and into February.

Monday, January 16, 2017

Out of nowhere comes 5-9 inches of powder Tuesday into early Wednesday. Happy MLK Day !

Happy MLK Day everyone ! Unfortunately we can't enjoy celebrate the holiday on the slopes of Mad River this year, but perhaps it is a good year to reflect a little bit more on the man we celebrate this holiday for, the great Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. His legacy has been discussed, written about and certainly taught but what has always been most striking to me among his many attributes was MLK's incredible savvy. We all know about his ideals but one can certainly learn so much about the way MLK used activism not simply to garner attention for himself but to actually produce results in the form of progress and change that has served to positively impact the lives of so many and provide an enduring inspiration even almost 50 years after his death. The film "Selma" released in 2014, starring David Oyelowo as MLK pays great tribute to this by revisiting the time leading up to the famed voting rights march from Selma to Montgomery. More recently the HBO film "All The Way" starring Anthony Mackie as Dr. King and Bryan Cranston (Walter White of Breaking Bad fame) as LBJ was a fantastic revisiting of the struggle to see the Civil Rights Act of 1964 through a very divided congress. I highly recommend both, especially when it gets mild again  and we are in dire need of a distraction from the less than ideal skiing situation.

That situation is about to get a surprised jolt late Tuesday into Wednesday. I am not sure if an event like this can get the mountain up and running again but it is an astonishing turn of events given the prevailing weather pattern. I mean in the nick of time a confluence area in the jet stream will help to energize a Canadian high pressure center and allow a fresh supply of cold air to work its way into New England. This happens just as a area of moisture associated with a garden-variety low pressure center approaches the eastern Great Lakes. Models had this storm pegged to move well into Quebec but the downstream features in the jet stream discussed above will force this storm to take an abrupt right turn and track closer to New York City. As more data comes in, this storm looks better and better for the spine of the Green Mountains, thanks largely to just enough cold air and the nice looking moist flow of moisture from the Atlantic Ocean we will receive. Snow will begin just around or after dark on Tuesday (Jan 17) and continue at an occasionally moderate clip through the night and into early Wednesday before tapering to flurries. With temperatures now looking to be in the 22-27 degree range on the mountain, the consistency of this snow will NOT be wet and generally be powdery. We also shouldn't see any freezing rain and perhaps only a little sleet at the start. Total accumulations will be in the 5-9 inch category of generally denser powder. What the folks on the mountain decide to do with this is up to them but I am sure they are welcoming it with open arms.

There is much, much, much, much, better news that we will finish this blog entry with. I promise ! Unfortunately, we are still contending with the abomination that is this current weather pattern. Some of the worst of the thawing will actually be felt across the Midwest this week but temperatures will remain above normal in the wake of our Tuesday night/Wednesday snow event approaching or exceeding the freezing mark on Thursday, Friday and Saturday of the current week. The possibility of some sleet and freezing rain is possible on Saturday as a wave of moisture slides through the region from west to east. The real worry though is the system early next week which looks to be a real doozy of a storm and will wrap itself up across the Middle Mississippi valley on Sunday the 22nd and in doing so pump some very mild air into New England. This all happening before precipitation arrives early next week. Based on the information available now, the best we can hope for out of this giant storm system is a rain changing to snow situation but it is likely that temperatures rise into the 40's again at some point accompanied by a substantial period of rain.

On to the good news ! The EPO and PNA, two teleconnection indices that are dogging us now will flip by the end of next week. The weather pattern will turn dramatically as a result and we should see much colder weather by the end of the month and some new snow to go along with that. The move toward colder weather will be very gradual next week with temperatures moving below the freezing mark (after a likely thaw) during the middle of the week and getting to within 5 degrees of normal by the end of the week. This is a big improvement though especially considering the fact that there have been a few hints of potential snow just prior to or during the weekend of the 28th and 29th. After that, I would expect temperatures to turn below normal as a ridge in the jet stream builds across western Canada and Alaska, just where we need it.

Saturday, January 14, 2017

Wet snow Tuesday night and Wednesday should help keep the high elevations a little wintry in an otherwise mild week

Pattern still looks like garbage for the next 10 days or so. That said, I knew that by going out on a limb and predicting 0-1" of snow for over the next 7 days (my forecast as of last Wednesday), the weather would find a way to prove me wrong. Interestingly, it is actually rare, even in the most god awful patterns, that we get completely shut out on accumulation over the course of a week in the middle of the winter. I have made the forecast on few occasions and noticed that almost every time I do it, I turn out to be wrong. 

So, even though a large ridge in the jet stream prevails across eastern North America, an innocuous storm system will spin its way out of the southern Rockies and head toward New England cutting right through this ridge. The cold air currently in place will grow pretty stale when precipitation arrives very late on Tuesday; in fact, temperatures Tuesday evening will probably be a few degrees above freezing. Temperatures cross sections Tuesday night into Wednesday appear a bit cooler than they have and mixed precipitation and some wet snow is the current projection. We obviously need a lot of snow and much colder weather, but I expect 3-6 sloppy inches across above 2500 feet out of this with precipitation ending Wednesday night. Doesn't look like much in the valley locations but this is a rather impressive fight by winter in an incredibly bad looking set-up. 

The storm responsible for the wet snow and mixed precipitation will close off in the Canadian Maritimes and actually keep our temperatures within 10-15 degrees of average for the balance of the upcoming week after Wednesday. This doesn't sound like much but readings will fall below freezing at night and 35-40 during the day. The spring-like warmth will remain over the Midwest during this period with readings 30-40 degrees above average in the northern Great Lakes. This large blob of  anomalous warmth will drift into Canada by the weekend of the 21st and 22nd as a strong storm system organizes in the southern plains. This storm could be a massive precipitation producer for the east coast but there is a glaring absence of  cold air and most of this precipitation will fall as rain. It is also uncertain as to how much of an impact this storm will have on interior New England. This storm will be the product of a energized sub-tropical jet stream and precipitation might be confined to areas well to the regions south. 

The pattern will gradually turn more favorable in the days following Sunday January 22nd but the key word is gradual, very gradual. Temperatures will likely stay quite mild through around January 24th; after that, both the PNA and EPO turn favorable and seasonable temperature should return and the snow potential starts to rise substantially. By early February, I expect winter to have firm grip on the region and the snow should be piling up once again. 

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Atrocious outlook through the weekend of the Jan 21-22 but it starts to look better after that

When it was cold this month we missed on a lot of the snow and it has since turned mild and there is little snow on the horizon for the foreseeable future. Winter 2016-17, which got off to such a promising start, has tanked with the new year and though I remain optimistic of a much better February, we are faced with a very tough upcoming 10-14 days.

Wednesday was our first real mild day, a comfortable one, which featured 40-degree temperatures and sunshine. Wednesday night and Thursday will feature sporadic rain and temperatures could climb toward the 50 degree mark on the mountain. We are only expecting about a third of an inch of rain (give or take a tenth) but it will be the continuation of the mild breezes and excessive temperatures that will do the most damage. Colder, arctic air will make a return for the holiday weekend but with very little if any accompanying snowfall. The cold air is actually undercutting the prevailing ridge in the jet stream that has taken up shop along the east coast. This "undercutting" of the cold provides a stabilizing force in the atmosphere and thus greatly reduces the prospects for terrain enhanced snowfall. Temperatures will start Saturday below zero before rising toward 20 by the afternoon. Sunday will be a few degrees warmer and both days will have little wind, lots of visibility but unfortunately little if any new snow.

The dreaded tightening of the jet stream in the Pacific will take place over the weekend and the effects of this will be felt next week. The index that measures this "tightening", the EPO is indicated to be off the charts "positive" by the middle of next week which is nothing short of catastrophic considering there is little to no support for cold coming from any of the other teleconnection indicators. The warm-up will be widespread across much of eastern North America with a large area of much above normal temperatures developing across the Midwest, Northeast and most of eastern Canada. At MRG, temperatures will start the week in the teens but readings will rise above freezing during the afternoon. From there, we are likely to see some limited rainfall in the Tuesday/Wednesday time frame and a continuation of very mild weather for the duration of the week after that. It is the worst 7-10 day outlook we have seen for snowfall all season I am sorry to say.

I did save some good news for last. There are clear signs in the longer term of some improvements in the pattern beginning around the 23rd. The tightening in the jet stream is in fact suppose to be temporary and even the negative PNA which has plagued us now for 3 weeks (4 counting next week) shows signs of shifting course. The pattern shows signs of splitting in the long term and though we do not have the mechanisms present for a massive arctic outbreak, we will have a series of storms. There are indications of a potentially major east coast system between the 22-24 of the month. Most places will be too warm for snow I imagine but interior New England could see some rain to snow situation. If that doesn't materialize into anything, the prospects for both colder weather (at least relative to the next 10 days) and snow start to look a lot better. Sorry for the crap news folks, try and survive the mild onslaught

Monday, January 9, 2017

Big changes for Vermont weather and not many of them good for skiers

Very limited amounts of good news once again and this accompanies a New York Giants playoff lost. Though winter has a firm grip on Vermont and much of the rest of eastern North America, the weather pattern fundamentals going forward look pretty atrocious and the cold will get scoured out of most locations of New England by Wednesday. If there is a small bit of good news, it relates to the upcoming late Tuesday/early Wednesday weather system, yet another in a litany of storms that will track well into Canada. This of course follows the system that slammed eastern Mass with snow yet was a big and a miss for Vermont. Though the track of this upcoming system is less than ideal, it is running into some vary cold air and much of the overrunning moisture will fall in the form of snow beginning late in the ski day Tuesday. The snow will continue sporadically overnight into early Wednesday with temperatures inching closer to the freezing mark. Early on Wednesday, temperatures might inch above the freezing mark and some light rain is possible at lower elevations while a wetter snow persists across the high country. Can't promise a powder day Wednesday but it does look better than 48 hours ago with 2-4 inches of snow falling mostly late on Tuesday. 

I have made mention and many have heard of the epic snows across the Sierra Nevada over the past week. They are a feast or famine location as far as U.S. sking is concerned and went through a series of bad snow years before that was busted last year by the Super Nino. This past week has been beyond epic as far as snow goes and it isn't done yet and is likely to continue for a good part of the rest of the month. Take a look at this forecast from the National Weather Service in Reno. 

Not sure if I have ever seen so many warnings issued for one county. An "avalanche warning", "winter storm warning", and multiple "flash flood warnings". Though some areas saw some rain on Sunday, another 2-plus feet of snow is forecast over the next 48 hours with more to follow beyond that. The weather systems impacting California are not doing Vermont any favors. The energy from the early week California system will push toward the eastern Great Lakes, and like its predecessor, advance into Quebec. There is some cold weather advancing into the U.S. behind this storm but we have little protection in front. It could thus turn into a warm couple days late this week. Temperatures could climb to as high as 50 across valley locations Friday and some rain is likely at all elevations either on Thursday or early Friday. Forecasts right now are for minimal amounts of rain but temperatures and a gusty mild breezes could do some substantial damage to our snowpack. 

Arctic air is expected to reassert some control over the northeast for the holiday weekend with Saturday looking dry and relatively seasonable. Subtropical energy will try and organize itself later in the weekend and advance northeast. It is possible that frozen precipitation could be the end result of this on Sunday or more likely on Monday but models are not providing agreement on the idea of precipitation as of yet or the idea that the precipitation will fall as snow and not sleet or freezing rain. 

There is much better agreement regarding a major northward retreat of the polar jet. This takes place around MLK day and arctic air is expected to have a very limited influence over New England in the days that follow. For a period of at least a week, all forms of blocking at high latitudes vanish and the combination of a tightened jet in the Pacific and a continued negative PNA will continue to pound the west coast with all kinds of weather. The possibility for another thaw across Vermont is also considerably high. As we get closer to January 20th, the pattern looks increasingly stormy though not particularly cold. The right set of circumstances could provide some excitement because of the storminess but the cards are stacked against us given the upcoming set up. We need some fundamental changes and we might not get them until very late in the month or even in early February.