We’re looking down the pipes at what would actually be a pretty terrific weather pattern … if there was any snow left on the ground. As it stands, there looks to be a lot of cold air around in coming days but little moisture. So maybe an inch of snow here and an inch of snow there, but nothing on the horizon—or at least the next few days—that looks to pack a good punch. If there was two feet of snow on the ground, it would be great. But there’s not. So we wait.
The thaw continues. East of the Whites, there is still some cover. To the west? It’s springtime.
Which may change. The pattern looks good past, uh, tomorrow. There’s a broad trough setting up centered over the Great Lakes (and far enough west to keep snow in Minneapolis, where I may or may not be headed in a couple of weeks for ski races) and on the east side of this sits New England. The teleconnections look good, and up until recently we just needed a spark to set off some of this powderkeg.
Which we may see. Signs are pointing towards a storm on Friday night, just in time for the weekend (or the pessimist would say: just in time to gum up the roads for the weekend). It could be a few inches, which would nicely freshen up anywhere which manages to keep a base. It could go towards the sea, which would be a nice snow shot for the coast. Or it could track inland, which would be a snow/rain/mix scenario depending on location.
One thing for sure: we’ll keep track of it!
Let me rephrase that: the winter may rise again. First, this weekend. It will be a lovely weekend if you like not skiing and rain. Things have gotten slightly better; it now appears that the temperature in Northern New England will only rise in to the 30s to maybe 40, and will only stay that high for 24 hours—not the days-long thaw advertised a few days ago. It’s certainly not ideal, but it should leave some base in some areas of New England.
Then, things diverge. Some (ECMWF) models have a storm cutting inland next week, bringing more rain and warmth before it gets cold. Others (Canadian) have this storm going off the coast and putting some snow back in to New England. Still others (GFS) don’t have this storm at all but a second storm later in the week putting a nice swath of snow across most of New England. Things will change. But at least we have something to look forward to.
This past weekend had tremendous skiing—if you knew where to ski. Pomfret, Vermont? Very good. Jackson? Excellent. There’s probably three feet of snow south of the notches, close to double what’s further north. It was very, very cold.
So of course, today it’s raining.
Some snow should survive this rain fine. Jackson may have to close the North Hall trail, but otherwise should be skiable. There’s an inversion there, and while north of the notches and along the spine of the Greens it’s in the 40s, Jackson and east in to interior Maine are still holding a cold air dam and seeing 32 degree temperatures with freezing rain—probably putting a nice, protective crust on the snow. So the area with the deepest snowpack—central New Hampshire, east-central Vermont and most of Maine—will see the least loss with this storm. Other areas may fall down towards bare ground.
Then it gets cold. That’s good. Then it gets warm. That’s bad. The models are spread as to when the warm comes, and how far up it comes, and how long it lasts. But most every model shows it coming, probably in about a week. We can hope that it is mitigated somewhat, and that winter returns after.
Let’s enjoy this not-too-frigid weekend of beautiful new snow.
Monday is going to be a mess. Not, thankfully, as bad as the melt-all-the-snow shenanigans in December, but not optimal. There are still some signals that the energy will slide far enough east for snow in Vermont and the Dacks, but most are pointing towards rain.
But the warm-up should be brief and moderate, so the snowpack will probably survive.
So, this first storm. I haven’t posted much because the models have been sorting themselves out. They’ve gone big (2 feet!). They’ve gone small (2 inches!). And they’ve settled somewhere in between. The storm should give a nice dose of snow to everyone south of a Lewiston-Lincoln-Montpelier line. North of there will see less, but north of there is where there is more snowpack anyway (most of Maine will be spared by the storm, but most of Maine is toying with two feet already). The winners will be the eastern coast and eastern mountain slopes, so I wouldn’t be surprised to see some higher totals in places like Windblown and Jackson while areas on the western sides of the ridges (Bretton Woods?) see much less. Nice, cold powder.
Then to the next storm. The jury is certainly still out on this, but it looks like southeastern New England (where there is no skiing) will see mostly rain. However, if the GFS verifies, it may set up much like the storm this past Monday, giving a nice paste of a foot of snow to much of Northern New England—a good base builder. The ECMWF takes a strong storm to the west which would be a disaster (followed by extremely cold air) but the ECMWF hasn’t been performing particularly well this year. Hopefully guidance will shift towards the GFS modeling. If this is the case, parts of central New England could see two feet of snow over the span of four days. Nothing wrong with that.
This second storm looks to ramp up late on Sunday, so the weekend should be a bit warmer—beautiful for skiing most anywhere in New England.
Quick update on the storm to come. It’s trended a bit south on the models. There is a lot of discrepancy. I’d say the 5%-95% confidence interval for the storm right now is 0″ to 24″. In other words, it could go out to sea and just be really cold, or it could really phase and wind up and dump two feet of powder over much of New England. Right now, I’d lean towards the middle, a good 6-12″ of snow focused mostly on Southern and south-central New England. Vermont and the Dacks will mostly get hosed, but at least nothing looks to melt for the next couple of weeks. (If the latest run of the GFS verifies—and of course one run is a single point in time—Boston will see two feet of snow in the next two weeks and temperatures that won’t top out above 35. This would be great, but probably won’t come to pass.)
Before we look ahead to the new year, let’s review the most recent storm. The day after Christmas, I wrote:
Right now, most of Massachusetts would see rain, southern sections of Northern New England would see a mix, and Greens and Whites would see a nice snowstorm, tapering off further north.
And here’s what the snowfall map from the storm looked like:
Not a bad prediction three days out. What this means is that the rich get richer—almost all of Maine has at least a foot of snow on the ground—while the Greens, southwest New Hampshire and north of the Whites, and much of New York have paltry snow cover. Before the most recent storm, there was almost no snow north of Franconia, while Jackson had quite enough to ski. So for this coming week (New Years), the best bets look like anywhere along a line from Hanover to Waterville Valley to Jackson and anywhere in to Maine.
Now, beyond then, things get interesting. It will be cold, and a storm will make its way out of the plains and redevelop off the coast. It’s several days out, but it looks like there might be a broad foot of snow from the coast to the mountains. We could all use that as a nice surprise to ring in 2014.
The bit of snow falling today should freshen up the trails in much of New England where enough of a base survived. Then it gets cooler for a couple of days, and then some warm air pushes in to New England ahead of a very cold arctic airmass. As the arctic air presses towards New England, a storm will churn northwards along the Atlantic Coast. This storm has shown more potential in recent model runs, and exactly how it interacts with the Arctic Air will be the difference between the edge of the storm, a heavy, wet, base-building snow, and a rainy mess.
It will be a close call.
Recent models have come in to a bit more consensus of a latitude-driven storm. Right now, most of Massachusetts would see rain, southern sections of Northern New England would see a mix, and Greens and Whites would see a nice snowstorm, tapering off further north. But we’ll have to watch changes in timing and track here. If the track goes further north or south, so will the rain/snow/dry areas (this looks to be a more compact storm, not one that will paste a foot of snow from Buffalo to Boston). With the approaching front, a slight change in timing and phasing will result in a dramatic difference in the amount of cold air available for the storm.
Either way, this will be one worth watching.
After the melt-pocalypse (and frankly, when will the weather channel start naming meltdowns? I’d almost allow that if we could refer “Thaw Bertha” of ’13) we’re left with some base across New England, but not really enough to ski on. The nice thing about keeping a small base, especially a bomb-proof one like you get when you dump a bunch of freezing rain on snow, is that with only a couple inches of snow you can turn it back in to excellent conditions.
And that may be about to happen. A weak clipper system is coming across the country in the next 24 to 48 hours. Such systems are often crapshoots; they can produce a few stray flurries or half a foot of powder; the storm last week morphed from a weakling in to a traffic-hell monster of powder over the course of about two days. And that may happen again tomorrow. A weakening area of low pressure will transfer energy towards the coast, and, if the NAM has it right (and it’s in the NAM’s sights) it would suddenly go from a coating of snow to a solid 2-6 inches. That amount of snow would turn the upcoming weekend from some icy skittering in to some pretty gosh-darned good conditions. It’s not the kind of base-building nor’easter we’d like to see, but we’ll take what we can get.
Most favored in this sort of scenario is the eastern half of New England. Windblown might get enough snow to start grooming on top their base again, as might coastal locations in New Hampshire and Maine. A question is whether the snow shield extends northwards from there, especially towards the eastern slopes of the White Mountains. Expect these sorts of details to be sorted out in the next few model runs.