Think Snow, Tweet Snow !!!

Thursday, March 30, 2023

Spring roller coaster of weather conditions begins

 Bluebird and cold late March weather conditions will continue through early Friday at Mad River Glen and then a very typical spring roller coaster of weather conditions commences and should continue through the first week of April. There are signs of another wintry period and possibly some snowfall during the 2nd full week of the month but it should be pointed out that the climatology wall is getting taller and taller making the odds of attaining deep, powdery snowfall steeper. 

The early sunshine on Friday is expected to give way to clouds and some precipitation, almost all of which should occur after the ski day. I did a double take and was somewhat surprised to see that a brief period of accumulating snowfall is indicated Friday afternoon, but this is a very strong push of mild air and that precipitation should change to rain around or just before it gets dark Friday evening. Now I've been watching Saturday closely because temperatures and dewpoints are supportive for some serious snow softening, but it would sure help to clear out the rain and it looks like we will after 11 AM or thereabouts. Temperatures will start Saturday in the low 40's with terrible visibility, but temperatures will warm into the 50's, the visibility will improve and the cloud ceiling should lift as the day progresses into the afternoon.  I expect we get  several hours of dry weather later in the day but also expect some gusty winds up over 30 mph. Chilly weather returns for Saturday night along with a bit of wet weather which will then become wet snowfall.  All of this weather will clear out very early on Sunday though temperatures on the mountain will likely be stuck just below the freezing mark. 

It appears Monday, April 3rd is a milder version of Friday with cold weather and sunshine to start, milder near 50-degree temperatures and clouds to finish with the possibility of some rain later in the day. Much of the middle of the week looks cloudy, above freezing and we can expect an interval or two of rain not to be confused with continuous rain. I should emphasize the point that this appears to be the longest stretch of thawing temperatures so far in this early part of the spring season. Colder weather can be expected for the end of the week along with a return of some sunshine. I've seen some models advertise some wet snow for the 2nd full weekend of April but I think there is more wintry weather potential in the period between April 10th and 13th. Looks like we get a decent PNA surge in this time frame setting the stage for a colder weather surge in eastern North America. Those holding out hope for a late season snow event should keep an eye on this period more than any other.

Monday, March 27, 2023

More winter weather for the rest of this week and then a little spring for Saturday

As expected, winter weather conditions will continue this week, at least at skiing elevations in the MRV. We won't be able to manufacture any big snow but there are two chances for small accumulations and temperatures between Tuesday and Friday morning are generally expected to stay below freezing across the higher elevations though low lying areas can expect afternoon temps in the high 30's and low 40's most of this week. Our first new snow comes Monday night from a storm making a last ditch effort to ignite south of Long Island. Southern Vermont can expect a decent elevation event from this with 4-6 inches above 2000 feet while valley areas see some rain change to a bit of wet snow. The MRV is on the northern edge of this area of precipitation and we can generally expect a lesser version of southern Vermont's weather. This means 1-3 inches for Sugarbush and Mad River Glen with about an inch expected in valley areas. There are two reinforcements of colder air this week with the first arriving behind Monday nights snow. Clouds on Tuesday should break for a little sunshine with temperatures rising into the 30's, but again, probably staying sub-freezing at higher elevations. Sunshine and a southwesterly flow of air should boost readings in valley areas to the 40's following a near 20 degree start. Clouds then arrive Wednesday evening and a period of snow during the overnight hours is likely to bring a few inches of snow for the Thursday ski day. This is a potent little surge of late March cold so the 1-4 inches of snow that is expected should be more of the powdery variety and will be accompanied by mostly 20-degree temperatures throughout the day. There is a slight chance that this could wind up being the last powdery turns of the season, but April always seems to feature unexpected volatility and I can remember hiking in powder at the summits in both late April and May so this would be an unwise prediction even though the outlook has trended to the warmer side. 

There's been a lot of talk of changes with ENSO moving forward and a possible El Nino in the months ahead. This does not apply to the weather pattern next week which looks like the epitome of a La Nina set up with cold gripping portions of western North America and covering a large portion of southern Canada as mild air makes a northward push along the east coast. The surge of warmth for Satuday, April Fools Day appears very potent, capable of making a strong interior New England dent. There's a strong storm system associated with this push and it's likely to produce severe weather late Friday and Friday night across the Ohio Valley only a few days removed from the 49th anniversary of the 1974 super-outbreak of tornadoes that occurred in the same area. The storm is ultimately expected to track near or just south of the St Lawrence Valley and bring some wet weather at all of our elevations on Saturday. Still, some uncertainty remains regarding the nature of the weather for Saturday as clouds could break for some sunshine allowing strong southwesterly winds to boost readings up toward 60. I am not sure that happens but it's almost a certainty that the higher dewpoints on Saturday will bring the corn out if you can dodge the rain drops (We should see a drier period in spite of the showery forecast). Colder weather returns for Saturday night and so will some wet snow showers but sunshine should return for the ski day on Sunday with readings remaining in the 30's on the mountain. As for next week, the battle between some very spring-like weather across the Mid-Atlantic and wintry conditions in southern Canada will resume. Models have placed us on either side of this battle, but for the most part, I think we are on the colder side of this divide with a mid-week storm system bringing us a plethora of precipitation types.

Thursday, March 23, 2023

Snow/some sleet late on Saturday and snow showers for Sunday but storm next week looks less likely

Having not had the opportunity to know her, I don't consider myself a very qualified person to give a Betsy Pratt tribute, but I've always enjoyed hearing about her from those who do know and I also love a good history lesson, especially about places I care about. This film "Spirit of a Classsic", made by Rick Moulton in 1988 is just amazing. I can't believe some of the footage and interviews in this feature which include folks who actually cut trails, built the original towers and made Mad River Glen of the most distinctive ski destinations around. And of course, there's some terrific stuff from Betsy Pratt herself. 

We still have some winter weather in the outlook and a lot of snow on the ground, but with that said, I am not in love with the storm this weekend as far as big snow goes. More on that in a minute. In the mean time we have cooler temperatures and a pretty solid freeze coming for Friday morning. Temperatures will warm Friday thanks to some sunshine, but only to around 40 and lower than that above 2500 feet. Saturday morning is expected to be even colder, maybe some teens before some early sunshine again pushes readings up just past the freezing mark by late morning. Most of Saturday except for a few hours in the morning will feature cloudiness and some snowfall is expected to arrive just as the ski day is winding down. This is a storm that will be initially tracking toward the eastern Great Lakes before making a last second transition to the New England coastline. This setup, especially being late in the winter season, is pushing marginal temps into northern Vermont both at the surface and aloft. At skiing elevations I think this initial burst of moisture falls as some snow with a bit of sleet mixed in. Later in the evening and into the over night we should see a mix of lighter sleet and snow change to all snow before ending as snow showers later in the day Sunday. A 2-5 inch, dense, snow/sleet conglomeration is my initial guess on accumulation. The snow showers on Sunday could yield a small additional accumulation but this activity looks better from Stowe northward based on wind trajectories. 
Much of next week has moved in a colder direction as of this update but the big question relates to a potential storm in the Tuesday to Wednesday time frame. It's a promising setup but a closer examination of the last two rounds of ensemble data are showing this jet amplification to max out farther south and east taking much of the storminess out over the ocean. The Canadian model was still showing a big storm over interior New England as of Thursday afternoon but its own ensembles did not validate this scenario so I am fearful the trend toward a nothing-burger could get legitimized over the next few days. The way this month has gone though, never say never ! The late season chill looks more legit in spite of the drier outlook. Much the Tuesday to Thursday time frame looks sub-freezing, at least on the mountain and we could certainly squeeze lighter accumulations of snowfall into this outlook even if a bigger storm doesn't materialize. 

The ensembles also moved toward a colder, stormy and tumultuous start to April with a likelihood of more winter weather. Good excuse to reiterate what I think will be an accurate prediction from Midstation Single guru Brian Aust of a "proper April closing date" !


Monday, March 20, 2023

Stormy weather pattern will continue to throw a lot of weather at us including at least one elevation sensitive snowfall event this weekend

We waited until March 19th to record what likely will be our coldest day of the month allowing the deep snow to solidify a bit. The snow will indeed soften again this week with the big corn horn day likely to be Thursday. Comfortable 40-degree afternoons are also expected Tuesday and Wednesday with Tuesday being the sunnier of the two days, but I want to caution folks who are expecting those weather conditions to produce deep corn. I can't forecast with any certainty how snow consistency might hold up from one day to the next, but I can put out a short spiel about the importance of dewpoints and how snow on dry above-freezing days such as Tuesday and Wednesday can remain pretty firm. As dewpoints climb above freezing, like they will on Thursday, snow will be able to soften more efficiently. We are also expecting a bit of rain to go along with near 50-degree temperatures Thursday. The rain however is expected to be rather sporadic and I expect a large percentage of the ski day to remain precipitation-free. The wet weather is then expected to get pushed south of Vermont on Friday and clouds might break for a bit of sunshine. Dewpoints are expected to drop again though temperatures should remain largely above freezing throughout the day. 

Though we've been in the midst of a break, the weather pattern can still be described as a stormy one, especially the period beginning this weekend (March 25-26th) and extending through the end of the month and into early April. The pattern, supported mostly by the -EPO or weakness in the strength of the Pacific jet stream does not favor extreme winter-like cold given the absence of a ridge in western North America. It would thus be a terrific regime in January, but in March it aligns more with lots of spring storminess and elevation sensitive snow events. The upcoming weekend looks almost entirely cloudy and it appears as if mixed precipitation or snow will arrive at Mad River Glen sometime around midday Saturday. Valley locations could see a period of rain. Over the last few days, models have been moving in the right direction or at least toward a wet, elevation sensitive snowfall extending through Sunday. Snowfall accumulations could be significant  (6 or more inches) though I will wait until lingering uncertainties are ironed out before zeroing in on a range. 

Though its been a few days since the  last update, their continues to be indications of an even stronger storm around March 28th. Like its predecessor, this storm will have minimal cold air to work with but the prevailing weather pattern supports a favorable track and if the storm were allowed to  deepen enough, we might not need a lot of cold air to support more significant snow. Still a long way to the finish line on this and a possible next storm around the time of April Fools. At the very least, the deep snow established by yet another Ides of March storm will melt slowly thanks to clouds and a weather pattern that doesn't support persistent thawing, at least not yet.

Thursday, March 16, 2023

Spring beginning to creep into the outlook over the next two weeks but pattern continues to support storminess through the end of the month

The recent bombed-out nor'easter once again managed to work itself into a hall of fame list of storms impacting the region between March 13-15. The 2-day plus snowfall of close to 35 inches actually outperformed some of the other great storms that have occurred over the last 30 years in this period, and like many of the other historic snows around here, involved a late-inning northward shift mainly involving the placement of the low pressure center. Some of the higher resolution data performed horribly with this event and a few model runs were close to completely shutting northern Vermont out of all the action early on Sunday.


As I was enjoying of the more epic days ever on the mountain, I am getting tweets, emails and even a text about the potential for rainfall or mixed precipitation on Friday. I really had no idea how excited everyone could be about rain, perhaps I should predict more of it ! But yes, we do actually have a tiny bit of wet weather to worry about. The rain is in fact not a big deal and it comes following a little bit of snow or mixed precipitation Friday morning (I am expecting less than a tenth of an inch). The bigger deal is the few hours of above freezing temperatures combined with higher dewpoints Friday afternoon. I don't think its too far fetched to think the upper mountain could avoid most of that and thus keep some of that new snow-softness in place for the colder weekend, but it is close and I do expect the lower elevations to make a run at 40 degrees Friday afternoon. Colder weather returns to the high country Saturday with temperatures remaining below the freezing mark in spite of some limited sunshine. Snow showers are then possible early Sunday, along with even colder temperatures mostly consisting of 20's on the mountain and near 30 in valley locations. Snow showers could yield a small accumulation of less than 3 inches.

 Beyond the weekend, it's looking somewhat like spring, but winter won't go down without a fight. The colder weekend weather will moderate for early next week and the Monday-Wednesday period should consist of at least some sunshine and slightly above freezing afternoons but well below-freezing overnights and mornings. A first real corn horn blowing could happen on one day late next week (Thursday or Friday), but there is a signal for some storminess around Saturday, March 25th that could feature any or all precipitation types and if that storm can't bring any new snow, we appear to have another chance for late-season action around the 27th or 28th. 

The big picture setup continues to feature a little bit of blocking in the Davis Strait while early spring storms are allowed to tunnel underneath, such as what was described in the above paragraph. I would not describe the pattern as overwhelmingly cold beyond the time of the spring equinox and one should begin to expect a lot of above freezing temperatures during the daytime when its not snowing simply because it's late March.

Sunday, March 12, 2023

Bombing nor'easter will crush southern Vermont with heavy snowfall and bring 10-18 inches to MRG between Monday evening and Wednesday

I've been over-saturated on model data today trying to make sense of the upcoming storm and what it means for Mad River Glen and surrounding northern Vermont. There are two areas where question marks linger, one being the NYC metro area where there's continued uncertainty about precipitation type, and the other includes both the Adirondacks and northern Green Mountain region of Vermont where the question involves how far north the deep moisture can travel in this classic bombing storm. As of Sunday evening, southern Vermont and the Monadnock region of New Hampshire extending south into the Berkshires look like the sweet spot with some areas receiving more than 2 feet. I was a little nervous with what appeared to be another eastward shift this morning, but model data I trust the most seems to have settled on a decent result for the MRV, especially over the higher elevations. 

This has been a tough sucker to get a handle on, as this storm is expected to really begin strengthening Monday morning east of Cape Hatteras. The low pressure center will strengthen, but get stretched as one area tries to strengthen along the coast and another intensifies further over the open water. This stretching isn't uncommon, but man it doesn't make things easy, especially trying to forecast weather around New York city Monday night into early Tuesday. I'll attempt to simplify by saying we really are rooting for the low pressure on the western edge of this stretching (closer to the coast) to be more robust as it will help push the precipitation shield further north, west, farther inland and more over us. We would also really like this storm to consolidate and reach full maturation over Boston Harbor as opposed to south of the Cape and it is very close with model runs answering this question in multiple ways throughout Sunday. All that said, it looks like we can pull this storm close enough for a decent snowfall beginning Monday evening and persisting throughout Tuesday, Tuesday night and even Wednesday. The snowfall intensity will  likely be more intermittent verses areas farther south but the duration of snowfall over the high country looks very promising. As a storm such as this occludes, the moisture/precipitation shield will fan out and it seems probable we will receive some oragraphic enhanced snow extending into Wednesday, and all of this gets some additional assistance as the flow becomes more northwesterly off Lake Champlain, which it will during the day. I am keeping the range wide to account for this lingering uncertainty but 10-18 inches between Monday evening and Wednesday is my guess and it wouldn't surprise me if we fell outside of this range in either direction. I love the fact that this storm appears elevation sensitive and that we could get a long duration snowfall, but the eastern segment of this coastal low could try and slingshot the whole system out to sea quickly Tuesday evening and this still bothers me a little. 

Given the intensity of this storm, there are obviously other concerns relating to wind and snow consistency. The latter obviously impacts ski conditions but it also is very important for power outage risk as wet snow can take trees down on power lines especially during high winds. I think this will be an issue father south but our temps appear to be cold enough on the mountain to support a drier but wind-blown snowfall while readings will be just below freezing in the valley meaning a wetter snowfall (though not heavy enough to cause too many problems). Winds will be northeasterly most of Tuesday between 15-30 mph and more northwesterly Wednesday and even stronger. Sustained winds and gusts will be higher across the summits and although this is a decently favorable direction for operations at MRG, it's strong enough in other locations to cause some issues. Travel will be a disaster for a good part of Massachusetts, and the southern two thirds of Vermont and  New Hampshire Tuesday. I would not advise a trip from the Boston or NYC metro to northern Vermont during the day. 

Still looks like some warm afternoons are probably on Thursday and St Patrick's Day. Wet weather is possible Saturday but then it turns colder again Sunday leading us into what appears to be a mostly wintry week of March 20th-24th.

Friday, March 10, 2023

Big March 13-14 storm should bring MRG modest amounts of new snow though heaviest is indicated to be south of us though this could change

 We are getting a better and more conclusive glimpse of what lies before us early next week and I am feeling pretty certain this storm turns into a very high impact late winter season snow, wind, coastal flooding and power outage event for a broad area of the northeast. It's the kind of storm that earns front page headlines, and will dominate the airtime on local newscasts beginning this weekend. It's a tougher forecast for us and I'll explain why, but the scenarios that have us getting shut out have been eliminated and we should wind up with a decent result by the middle of the week even if we fall outside the bullseye area. In the meantime we still have a tranquil dry weekend ahead and my Iphone is still telling me clouds for Saturday and I continue to think we see a decent amount of sunshine, especially late in the day which I think might go totally blue (let's see who ends up being right). Following a clear, and chilly Saturday night, sunshine early on Sunday will boost temperatures toward the freezing mark on the mountain by the afternoon when clouds from our incoming storm begin to push into the area. 

A disorganized low pressure conglomeration stretching from Minnesota to Georgia might suggest some weather is coming on Sunday, but the big storm will have yet to take shape. That starts to happen Monday morning with low pressure consolidating just east or over Cape Hatteras, NC. As jet energy over the midwest amplifies the jet stream, it will set the stage for a big coastal detonation Monday and its "bombs away". We've certainly narrowed the outcomes from here, but the track, speed and timing of the aforementioned detonation is very critical to the eventual outcome. Bombing storms spend some time defying the prevailing movement of the jet stream and this storm appears to be offshore but will make slight and brief northwest turn and is indicated to position itself over the western end of Cape Cod just as it reaches full maturation. From there the occluded storm is indicated to push eastward, out over the ocean. 

This consensus isn't etched in stone quite yet and subsequent model runs will be needed to provide more clarity and fine tune the outlook.  Given that it's the month of March, I can use a basketball analogy when describing bombing systems and how they like to establish a pivot foot when it comes to the conveyor of heaviest snowfall. The area around that "pivot point" is where one can expect the most intense snowfall rates and amounts and the latest data shows this area to be both south and west of most of Vermont extending from an area around the Berkshires south and west through the Catskills and into the northeast PA. The "pivoting" process in a maturing cyclone such as this one also means that the heaviest snow shifts from an area in front of the storm to an area more in the rear of the storm. Southern Vermont is indicated to be on the fringe of this area and northern Vermont is currently indicated to be out of this area. Still, the outcome is pretty good with snowfall arriving Monday evening and then periods of indicated through Tuesday into early Wednesday. Squeezing a foot of snow out of this current scenario is very plausible but less likely as one moves north to Stowe and Jay Peak. Having said all that, this critical "pivoting" area could easily shift north and we've seen this happen so many times with storms such as this one, which is a late bloomer or others such as the December 2020 event (we missed 30 inches by 40 miles) and most famously the March 2001 event when partly cloudy turned into 50-plus inches. So I would continue to expect changes and for the forecast to evolve moving forward. I will also stress again that this is a high impact event, like so many others that have occurred around this date and heavy snowfall in southern New England along with wind could mean widespread power outages along with the fact that when heavy wet snow accumulates on the roads, it's particularly difficult to drive in.

The storm and the more amplified pattern associated with the storm will ensure sub-freezing temperatures across the high country through early Thursday but forecast has moved in a warmer direction late next week and around St Patrick's Day in particular. Seems at least possible we will sneak a spring-like afternoon into our weather picture in the period between the 16th and 18th before more colder weather arrives by March 19th and extends through the Spring Equinox. There's also some storminess shown to accompany the push of colder temperatures over the weekend of the 18th and 19th and the warmer weather does increase the chances for something other than snow to fall though more accumulating snow is also possible, especially Sunday.