Think Snow, Tweet Snow !!!

Tuesday, March 29, 2022

Milder weather, wind and some rain will quickly erase any recent snow Thursday, but we are reserving the right to one last possible wintry breath for 2nd weekend in April

Unless we see some indications of a major snow event, certainly not out of the realm of possibility, this will be my last regular post of the season. I certainly enjoy the annual review of the cold weather months and how it impacted our ski season in northern Vermont, so check back for that in a few weeks. The recent round of cold weather and snow was just enough to reinvigorate MRG for a a few turns on Sunday and the continued snow Monday into early Tuesday appears to have helped Sugarbush secure a few powdery days though it has been very windy. There are more indications of cool weather in very early April but nothing rivaling this 4-day encore of winter weather. It's not a difficult prognostication given the timing but this is very likely the last 3-4 day stretch of sub-freezing temperatures we see this season unless one can manage to keep their activities over 3,000 feet (in that case you might have a chance !). 

The short term 72-hour forecast appears to be a microcosm of the recent winter season. Following a decent round of cold weather and a dose of powder, ripping southerly winds on Thursday lay waste to a any recent snowfall and further erode lingering snowpack above 2000 feet. This all happens after a tranquil Wednesday with morning sunshine bathing northern Vermont and warming temperatures from the teens into the 30's. Some clouds late in the day might be followed by a round of mixed precipitation Wednesday evening before winds increase out of the south, sending temperatures well into the 50's across valley locations Thursday and 40's even at the highest elevations. The mild temperatures aren't necessarily the problem here, but the wind, higher dewpoints and some rain are certainly capable of sending the Vermont winter landscape further into memory. Winds will become westerly Friday and cooler temperatures will envelop the region for the first full weekend in April but I would not anticipate a full return to winter. Low level instability will favor elevation sensitive rain and snow showers but temperatures will remain close or even above the freezing mark during most of the period with the exception of the highest mountain summits. 

The early part of next week appears to favor the best chance for fair weather with sub-freezing overnights and 40's and 50's for daytime temperatures. During the later part of the week and extending into the weekend of April 9th and 10th, there have been indications of another push of milder weather that might quickly give way to a more amplified setup. Around the time of April 8th and 9th would be the potential time frame for what could be a east coast weather event of some significance including some spring winter weather in the mountains. If you are hoping for one last big storm, this could be our last shot for something with the ensembles making a move toward milder temperatures by April 11th.

Friday, March 25, 2022

Terrific setup for some intense snow showers Sunday into Monday across the MRV high country

Winter is poised to make a late March return to northern Vermont. Though the strength of the cold weather in the period between late Sunday and Tuesday is impressive, it is not atypical for interior New England to get bouts of January-like weather in early spring. March and April in Vermont can quite frequently feature the most volatile weather of the year and outcomes have ranged from near heat in 1998 or 2012 to intense cold like in 2011 or 2014 to big snow like we saw in March both in 2018 and 2019 (and plenty of other years). We've managed to mix it up pretty good this month and gone with the "all of the above" option, but with winter lined up for the final encore. 

The intense area of early spring cold air is poised to get infused into an impressively deep jet stream trough in eastern North America. Lingering relative warmth underneath this trough on Saturday is going to create a dynamic and convective setup across interior New England with any sunshine triggering instability clouds and a mixture of rain and snow showers. Valley locations can expect sprinkles and an occasional mixed rain/snow shower while the high country above 2000 feet will see some occasional heavier snow showers. The setup is certainly convective enough to produce graupel, a northern New England staple in early spring resulting from these type of setups. The MRV is actually not well positioned for Saturday's precipitation with the wind direction more westerly (favoring areas such as Jay Peak) while a disturbance passing to our south focuses showers on southern New England. This will change on Sunday as winds become northwesterly and low level cold arrives from Canada. Snow showers will be intermittent in valley locations but more persistent and occasionally heavy over the Vermont high country. It's worth reiterating how absent this has been from our recent winter season. Most of our snow deficit this year can be attributed to the lack of instability and terrain enhancement and specifically the inability of the weather pattern to produce a setup conducive for such. Sunday into Monday will feature the best conditions of the season for the very type of snowfall we have been missing. Though a rather innocuous 1-2 inch accumulation on grass can be expected in valley locations Sunday, 3-6 inches of mostly powder can be expected above 2000 feet and this snow will continue Sunday night into early Monday. Snow totals can be tricky to predict in these instances as some areas can get luckier than others based on where individual snow bands setup and exactly how the wind is blowing, but 6-12 inches is my guess for the MRV high country as a two-day total by late in the day Monday. 

Clouds will begin to decrease by later in the day Monday setting us up for single digit temperatures Monday night and a better visibility day on Tuesday. Monday will feature temperatures mainly in the teens which is over 20 degrees below normal. The sunshine on Tuesday will help boost readings into the 20's but above-freezing temps should hold off until Wednesday and perhaps even Thursday above 3000 feet. Both milder air and rain will put this wintry encore to bed late on Thursday into Friday but a second encore is not out of the question in early April. A rather persistent ridging feature above the Yukon is responsible for some of this and there is evidence of some split flow in the jet stream which could help give rise to more storminess in the first few days of April.

Sunday, March 20, 2022

Some cold weather and snow is likely to make a brief return to northern Vermont in a week, but only after another rain event late Wed/Thur

Hope everyone is enjoying or has enjoyed the last "offiical" day at MRG. I was certainly hoping to be able to report on a potential storm late this week, but that is not to be unfortunately. The pattern does appear quite capable of delivering a decent round of late March cold beginning around March 27th. A day late and a dollar short for the storm late this week but it would not be impossible to spin something up about a week from now.

 Temperatures have been running even warmer than my warm expectations the last several days but we still can expect a return to sub-freezing mountain weather both Sunday and Monday night (3/20-21). Snow showers appear likely Sunday night into early Monday but northwest flow at jet stream level should allow cloudiness to decrease as the day progresses leading to a chilly but clear Monday night and a bluebird type of Tuesday with just scattered fair weather clouds. We can probably squeeze another dry day out of Wednesday with temps starting near 20 and rising into the 40's. My disappointment relates to the storm late this week. I had hoped that a storm would bring 1-2 feet of powder to Colorado for my trip out there and then proceed to somehow do the same for Vermont and neither appears to be the case unless you are in the San Juan Mountains perhaps. This is another example of a strong system in the plains just getting too wound up too early and the cold weather we were hoping to infuse into this system getting delayed. It is thus a rainy outlook for us beginning Wednesday night and persisting into at least part of Thursday. 

Friday and Saturday appear drier and cooler but not cold with temperatures likely to remain above freezing except at the high summits. The cold weather arrives Sunday and with it comes a slight chance that a storm can quickly intensify along the New England coast. Models have been inconsistent on this idea the last few days but the Euro Ensemble showed the best signal yet this morning for a low pressure center bombing over the maritimes. We will need more than just a storm in the martimes for deep snow but we will have at least a few days of cold weather persisting into early next week (3/28 -29) before temperatures are indicated to moderate.  There is a deep enough trough associated with this cold air to allow for a healthy layer of low level instability and lots of snow showers even if a storm doesn't materialize. This is often the case in spring during cold weather outbreaks and I would be surprised if we don't see some accumulating snow during this period across the high country as a result

Even with operations suspended at MRG. I'll do a few more updates and then a season wrap-up.

Thursday, March 17, 2022

After an incredible St Paddy's day, we pay for it with a dark, gloomy, rainy Saturday, though outlook does look colder next week

St Patrick’s day 2022 turned into an absolute winner. An average March/April will have a few days like this sprinkled into the very gradual upward temperature slog, but I feel I should note how much I’ve come to appreciate the sun-decking weather at MRG with a full blast of March sunshine corning it up from top to bottom. Hopefully, many of you got a chance to get out and enjoy it and if not, Friday is a slightly cooler and somewhat cloudier version of Thursday with temperatures holding in the 50’s. The slightly cooler weather marks the advance of a weak low level push of cooler weather. Though the cooler air won’t be strong enough to put the corn horn away Friday, it seems intent on fouling up the weekend forecast. 

For as much as I love the weather on St Patrick’s day, I absolutely hate spring days like Saturday. That, aforementioned cooler air is strong enough to wedge itself into the interior New England mountains, keep temperatures across the high country in the high 30’s with little to no visibility. The cool air is not strong enough however to turn the rain to snow, and the wet weather will begin around dawn Saturday and continue sporadically throughout the day. Saturday gets a decided failing grade from me, but some classic New England payback for a perfect St Paddy’s day. As mentioned in the previous update, some cooler air aloft will begin to advance into Vermont Sunday but this will be a gradual process and I wouldn’t count on any snow; instead, we should see clouds and intervals of sunshine with temperatures reaching 50 in valley locations and 40’s on the mountain. 

Beyond Sunday the outlook does look colder and I think it will turn out somewhat wintry as well after we sort through all the details. Colder temperatures will settle over the region on Monday and it will remain unstable enough across the high country for some snow showers. It’s possible to see an accumulation, especially above 2000 feet but I wouldn’t guarantee that yet. Flurries will likely continue into Tuesday although it does appear we will see a bit more sun by then, Both Monday and Tuesday will see the return of some sub-freezing temps in the morning with readings climbing only slightly above freezing each afternoon. The most interesting weather feature over the next 2 weeks appears to be an event in the Thursday-Saturday time frame (March 24-26). We have a weak area of early spring cold air in eastern Canada and a much stronger dose of cold will be heading southeast in central Canada thanks to the formation of a small but notable jet stream block in the arctic, north of Alaska. At the same time, a weather feature should be advancing our way out of the southeast. In the aggregate, models aren’t screaming big storm, but some necessary ingredients appear to be in place for at least something. It will be certainly be worth watching models sort this whole situation out and it would be consistent with the up and down nature of this past winter season, to produce a big storm after another round of warmth. 

Expect cold weather to follow whatever kind of weather we get late next week and persist for several days into early in the following week, lets call it March 28th or so. The cool signal on the ensembles begins to fade after that as we advance toward April 1.

Tuesday, March 15, 2022

Some wet snow Tuesday night but outlook overall has lots of spring including a dry and balmy St Patrick's Day

 After a beautiful weekend storm and some light snow early Monday, spring invaded northern Vermont and for the most part those conditions will prevail for the duration of the season. There are a few exceptions that will earn a place in this update but we can safely say that the lower mountain will spend lots of time above the freezing mark (most of the time during the day) while the upper mountain sees more occasional 40-plus temperatures. 

A weak disturbance in the jet stream on Tuesday will try and make a name for itself off the New England coast Tuesday night and it sets the MRV up for a classic spring snow situation by Wednesday morning. The upper mountain is positioned about as good as it can be to earn a few gloppy inches beginning Tuesday evening and persisting into the overnight. Actually, the whole mountain should see at least some snow (2-5 lower to upper mountain); but again, the snow consistency will be some version of wet. Valley areas below 1000 feet, which got pretty warm Tuesday will see some mixed precipitation go to snow and a minimal accumulation. Much of what falls Tuesday night will melt on Wednesday thanks to a strong dose of March sunshine. Temperatures will respond and reach the 50 degree mark in valley locations and 40's on much of the mountain. 

Thursday and Friday are also expected to be quite balmy with 50 degree temperatures encompassing the lower mountain during both afternoons. The question for Thursday relates to sunshine since a rain producing storm to the region's south will have a shield of clouds covering much of central and southern New England. Northern Vermont should steer clear of any rainfall on St Patrick's day and any clouds are at least thin enough to allow for the outdoor beer drinking and relaxing on the MRG deck type of weather. Any clouds on Friday should not bring any rainfall to Vermont but I am afraid this is not the case for Saturday when a significant storm system will approach out of the Mississippi Valley and bring widespread rain to all of New England. Saturday's storm has very little cold air to work with and even the optimal track that the Euro model appears married to will struggle to produce much snow even at the mountain summits. It is a strong enough storm with a deep/cold enough upper low to allow for some elevation sensitive wet snow on Sunday however with temperatures in the 30's. This follows the wet 40-degree temperatures Saturday. It's worth keeping an eye on this storm for any changes given the fact that it does bring with it, substantial amounts of moisture

Very typical late March weather follows for early next week with temperatures rising in the 40's during the day across valley areas while remaining in the 30's over the mountains. It should remain blustery through this period with Sunday's upper low still close enough to allow for instability and elevation sensitive snow showers Monday and Tuesday. Wednesday and Thursday are expected to be a little milder and there is a possibility for more rain on Thursday .

 The last update was 4 days ago and their were indications even then that the last full weekend of March had the potential to be cooler and potentially stormy. Models have yet to give us a consistent answer but indications of cooler weather and storminess have been amplified especially when looking at the European and Canadian Ensemble guidance. Could winter give us an encore performance on the 26th/27th ?  We got a chance at least !

Friday, March 11, 2022

A modest 12-20" inch event expected for Saturday/Saturday night across the MRV high country

Some minor adjustments are needed to the weekend forecast, but we still are looking at one of the better events of the season. The 2nd week of March is typically around the time where snow at the Mount Mansfield stake is at it's highest (~70"). Right now, we are at roughly 60 percent of average there and certainly in a lot worse shape further down the mountains so the need for snow is certainly dire. 

Snowfall expectations need to be trimmed 4" on either side for two basic reasons. The first and most important is the storm track. Models have settled nicely on a consensus but that consensus would have a strengthening area of low pressure track from the Delmarva to the eastern Cape as opposed to over metro Boston. As a general rule, the MRV can still perform very well when a storm tracks over Cape Cod, but this will remain a compact storm Saturday with a narrow moist conveyor. The 2nd reason is what models are showing as a slower intensification verses expectations a few days ago. This very quick moving storm will still be maturing along the eastern New England coastline and this will limit the expansiveness of snowfall Saturday afternoon. Still, we remain in a very good spot and are likely to see a colder storm in the aggregate. Snow will begin in the predawn hours Saturday with temperatures in the lower 30's, but readings will fall into the 20's very quickly on the mountain and should stay cold enough to support powder thereafter. Snowfall should remain very steady throughout the ski day but I don't see indications of 2-3 inch an hour snow in the current data. We likely see 5-8 inches by 4 pm with snow continuing through the evening. Winds will align very nicely late in the evening off Lake Champlain in an already very moist lower troposphere and this sets us up well for terrain enhanced snowfall through much of Saturday night. It's worth reiterating that snowfall forecasts that you might see in valley locations are not going to account for this (nor should they), but this accounts for the discrepancy in expectations with my forecast meant specifically for the high country above 1500 feet. So in summary, it's 5-8 during the ski day, another 2-4 during happy hour and another 5-8 during the overnight and the 12-20 inch total by Sunday morning. 

The storm clears out very quickly Sunday and the clouds will break for time (accompanying temps in the teens and 20's) but a small disturbance in the eastern Great Lakes may step in the way of a full day of sun. This disturbance marks the approach of milder air will will blow into the region very quickly after a chilly morning Monday on southwesterly winds. Temps are likely to approach 50 in valley locations and reach the 40's on much of the mountain though temps might stay in the 30's at the highest summits.   A weak cold front will then bring some mixed precipitation consisting of rain changing to snow at high elevations early Tuesday. Any precipitation will be short lived and skies should clear later Wednesday and then remain clear through Thursday. Even the cold front won't keep us out of spring mode however and below freezing overnights will be followed by above-freezing days on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday. Readings could get excessively warm Friday afternoon. 

A couple of shifts in some in the longer range outlook compared to the last update. After a potentially warm day on Friday, March 18, the weather looks more unsettled in the weekend that follows. Precipitation looks mostly rainy with minimal available cold available but a deep enough storm could produce some high elevation snow as time progresses. Ensembles then snow another warm period around March 22nd and 23rd but they've also trimmed the AO outlook to neutral and are suggesting that the last week of the month will be cooler and more unsettled. I won't use the word cold and snowy yet but the month might not go out with a torch and a whimper.

Wednesday, March 9, 2022

More March 12-13 magic for northern Vermont with powerful storm bringing 16-24 inches Saturday/Saturday evening

It's worth reiterating Monday's bullet point about the pattern going forward this March not appearing especially wintry. But March is the one of the more chaotic months of the year climatologically speaking, and big storms can materialize even when conventional wisdom would suggest they should not. Worth noting how the Martin Luther King holiday was able to magically produce a big snow consistent with some recent tradition. Big storms also seem to a magnet for the March 12-15 period with several years in the last 30 featuring big events in this time frame. Recent data suggests we can do it again, with a fast moving but impressive looking March powerhouse of a storm lined up for the weekend. 

Tranquil weather conditions will lead us to the weekend fireworks. Thursday features some sun with temperatures topping out a few degrees above the freezing mark on the mountain and Friday is a cloudier version of Thursday. Both days should feature decent visibility and it should be noted, very little wind. Our storm will form out of an area of moisture around the southern parishes of Louisiana and move quickly northeastward Friday evening. Dramatic improvements in the forecast stem from the track of this system. Initial concerns relating to the pattern amplifying too far west are now gone and replaced with a near perfect setup and a storm exploding in the Delaware Valley bordering NJ/PA and tracking over metro-Boston and eventually over the downeast region of Maine. It doesn't get much better than a potentially sub 970-mb storm tracking through this corridor. The only downer relates to the fast northeast  movement of the storm, a theme that has been prevalent all winter and likely related to the lack of downstream blocking in the jet stream. I am happily accepting this gift however and given the recent confirmation from ensemble data, this storm appears earmarked for 16-24 inches in the northern Green Mountains, most of it coming during the day Saturday. 

Here are some additional details. The eastward shift in the storm track places us in a much better position to get full access to the storm's moist conveyor. Snow should begin late Friday night or in the pre-dawn hours of Saturday but with fairly marginal temperatures of around or just below the freezing mark. Saturday morning's snow is likely to be wet across valley locations up to about 2000 feet and powdery above 3000 feet. Colder air positioned on the west flank of the storm will ultimately get entrained into Vermont as the storm bombs Saturday and temperatures will fall into the teens and 20's, depending on elevation allowing the snow consistency to turn powdery everywhere. Unlike the event in early February which featured a nearly 2 foot snow and little wind, this storm is considerably more dynamic and will feature increasing amounts of wind as Saturday progresses. It will be cold enough for powder by late in the ski day up and down the mountain, but windy enough amp up the density of the fallen snow overnight Saturday and into Sunday. Snow should continue Saturday evening with some Champlain enhancement during the overnight hours. The speed of the storm is the only thing limiting snow totals to the 16-24", a slower moving storm and we would do more. Sunday is blustery with flurries and snow showers in the morning but skies should clear and sunshine will bring temperatures into the 20's during the afternoon. Monday's temperatures will then reach the 40's as southwesterly winds quickly bring more spring-like temperatures to the MRV. 

After the weekend, the pattern continues to appear milder. There are hints of a weather system on Tuesday (3/15) bringing some precipitation consisting of some initial rain turning to wet snow followed by some seasonable temperatures for the middle of the week. But the weekend of March 19th and 20th is indicated to be mild with the only question relating to whether we can keep the rain away.  There are signs of a return to more normal temperatures by around March 23rd but normal in late March consists of above freezing daytime temperatures.