Sorry for the very bad pun.
As I wander through a 60-degree-and-spitting-tropical-rain Boston, it’s time to look forward to colder climes. Beyond that, there is little consensus in the models towards any storms, but we can take some solace in the teleconnections. The AO looks like it might go in to negative territory in about a week, as does the NAO. (But there is a lot of spread.) When those go together, good things happen.
Now let’s hope that the ski trails drain and freeze and are ready for the next frozen precipitation event.
The first storm of the season coming in this week is going to hit hard in certain parts of the SkiTrailReport.com area, but not most of it. Western New York—from Buffalo to Rochester and Watertown towards Montreal—looks to get pretty well slammed, while east of there most of the precipitation falls as rain. The storm had all of the ingredients necessary for a coastal bomb except for a blocking high, so it is accelerating a bit too far west and not deepening off the coast and drawing down cold air.
Oh, well. It’s still November.
Now, it’s time to turn to the next storm. Or set of storms. We’re looking at a cold, stormy pattern, and there are a lot of variables this far out. What a couple of the models—the American suite and the Canadian—are hinting at is a bit of a double-barreled system. First, we may have an inverted trough situation focusing a bit of surprise snow somewhere in New England. Then, there’s another coastal low on its heels. Unfortunately, the major teleconnections don’t appear to be lining up particularly well, so it, too, could be warmer and rainier than we might like. But it could also hit the mountains hard, or go out to sea all together. We have cold air in place, so that’s good. Now all we need is moisture, energy and some well-placed blocks.
Well, it was probably too good to be true. It’s still quite possible that Northern New York and Vermont get a good hit, but everything has been moving west to the degree that most of New England will see some rain, and a lot of New England a lot of rain. Perhaps there will be some regression to the mean (east) but everyone has gone west so far. It’s November, so we can’t be greedy. Interesting to note that the ECMWF has been out front here, with the GFS lagging. We saw that a lot last winter (but not as much this fall).
Models have been trending west, sort of where we’d expect them to be. The axis of heaviest snow will probably set up somewhere between a Bennington-Berlin-Millinocket line and a Lake Placid-Newport line (or possibly even all the way up in to the Saint Lawrence valley). Obviously we’d rather the former, but the later seems to have a bit more model support. There could be a sharp cutoff between a foot of snow and mostly rain, so some ski trails could pick up a lot of snow, and some could get washed out.
Stay tuned …
For the better part of a week, there’s been a storm brewing on the models. First, consensus was that it was going to go offshore. Then, many of the models moved it inland. For one glorious model run, everything had lined up. And then—things diverged. Typical. Right now, we have the following (check out our weather page for nitty gritty on the resources used here).
GFS: Off the coast, no snow for anyone. (Previous to today, it was showing a good foot of snow for Northern New England.)
ECMWF: Inland, snow for the Dacks, Northern Vermont and NH, rain for everyone else.
GGEM: Splitting the difference, so more snow for Vermont and NH
NAM: Beginning to show the storm, more inland?
DGEX: The Dacks and especially the Saint Lawrence Valley get hit hardest
Reading the tea leaves: It seems that the models are starting to converge on an inland solution. However, run-to-run continuity has been subpar, and the GFS has been stubbornly offshore. The teleconnections look good, but there is no large high pressure to the north to keep things nice and cold. The various AFDs lean towards splitting the difference, but there’s a spread of several hundred miles. Still, it’s quite possible that there will be a swath of 1-2 feet of snow over New England, especially in the mountains. If this comes down, it will fall on to cold ground primed, perhaps, with a few inches of snow from the energy tonight and sticking around. Which could mean some damn good November skiing.
Often, early season snow is a disappointment. Even if you get several inches, it falls on wet or warm ground. Even though November can be plenty cold, it’s often rainy. So the ski trails are bogs that might have some ice up top, but water underneath. Only the best-drained trails dry out enough, but unless they’re frozen, the snow that falls on them melts from underneath. You can have a foot of powder, but mud spots can preclude grooming, or make the trails a slushy mess.
This year? We’ve had a perfect November. A little rain here and there to keep the soil a bit moist (but still very dry). So there is no standing water to have to freeze. And for temperatures? The last few days have seen some chilly weather up north, but starting today we’re hitting the deep freeze. Mount Washington is going near daily records, and the next few evenings up north should be below 0 or close to it, with highs only in the teens. Without appreciable snow cover, trails will freeze down well, and a bit of snow that might fall will coat the top without insulating too much. Thus, if a foot of snow falls on top, it will be a foot of base, not a few inches of slushy mud.
When I created SkiTrailReport.com, it was the first site of its kind to allow skiers to post trail reports for trails in the Northeast and to create a directory of all these trails.
Well, now, I am going to attempt to curate the first Nordic ski specific weather blog for the northeast. In 2013, I posted a list of weather resources. Here, I’ll post with some frequency speculation of who might get snow, and how much, focused on Nordic ski areas in the northeast (particularly within about 3 hours of Boston, because that’s where I’ll ski). It’s hard to parse what you get from the news, and what falls in Boston might be far different than a few miles away. So I’ll do my best to take a guess. It’s sort of a cross between this and this. Or something
My qualifications? I don’t really have any. But I’ve been following the weather for quite some time, and take note of most model runs. I’ll basically be distilling: taking a lot of information (model runs, forecast discussions, larger teleconnections, other biases) and trying to succinctly put it in to a form where it’s digestible. We’ll try to not get excited about single model runs, but we won’t try to throw too much cold water on things either.
I won’t post snow maps three days out professing to know exact snowfall amounts. No one does. We may give ranges and confidence intervals, as these vary based on model spread. I’ll hype storms a while out, but I’ll certainly raise any models which show divergent data. And then I’ll analyze what happened after the storm.
And if a big storm’s a-brewin’, well, I’ll probably post a lot.
(Oh, and the Weather Channel is always wrong.)