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  1. #21
    WED-THU STORM UPDATE #7: Bust Potential in VT and N-NY
    NWS Burlington and NWS Albany both reversed course overnight and dropped their snowfall totals in areas of the ADK's and Green Mountains. This was discussed in previous updates as being an area of concern as temperatures are going to be marginal not only on the ground, but also higher up where potentially a warm nose about 5,000 feet aloft that comes in with the Low Level Jet and all of it's wind and precip. This could go either way, but this is no doubt a safer forecast for them to issue.

    Attached is the latest NWS snowfall forecast stitch that now runs through Saturday at 7 a.m., which is most of the storm outside of some lingering lake effect. NWS Burlington almost always low-balls the back-end snow this far out, so this really doesn't do N-NY and VT justice and can be confusing for skiers and riders, but they will bump over time the back-end amounts for sure. I have also included the NWS forecast through Thursday at 7 p.m. with a close up on the snowiest areas using a different map product. to snow what they are expecting from jist the front-end event. Those 12"-18" totals are gone, but they are within the realm of possibilities still. Last of the snowfall maps is the ECMWF showing through 7 p.m. on Thursday also that comes without any human interpretation, does not include the back-end, and it lacks resolution to highlight the mountains in the detail we would prefer in an elevation storm like this one.



    Next up is the ECMWF 1-hour precipitation intensity loop covering all of Thursday, and the NAM3K temperatures for the same period. The issue in VT are the temps, and whether or not the dynamic cooling and uplift can cool the atmosphere enough to change rain to snow. Those NWS offices believe that in N-NY and VT there will be some rain upfront at most of these areas, at least part way down the mountains, before the warm nose starts to give way and those other processes take over to change rain to snow. This was always in the cards as a possibility, and models have barely shifted, but opinions at these NWS offices have. So hunting this storm in VT and places like Gore are going to be risky and we won't know the results until just before the sun comes up. The faster the changeover to snow, the more snow will fall. The higher the ski area, the more likely it will be to change to snow. Shadowing will happen in parts of N-VT also, and lower altitude resorts may get skunked. Knowing the variability is really important.

    Now I've said umteen times already that N-NH and ME are the sweet spots for this storm. NWS Portland which covers all of NH and W-ME has been reserved the whole time on their forecast despite inching up. Winds will be a lingering issue on Thursday, but I expect to see totals above a foot in some of these areas on just the front end. It's going to snow in a short window, but extremely hard, and likely with big fluffy clumps.

    Warning About Driving Thursday: If you get caught in that low level jet near the mountains, you might not be able to see, and even at lower altitudes the driving wind and rain may be tough to overcome. There will be pretty dangerous conditions. I would not expect to be able to get through the notches in the Presidentials either. This will be bad especially in NH and ME.

  2. #22
    Lake effect.
    Coming a lot of it
    WED-THU STORM UPDATE #8: NWS Burlington Bumped
    It's time to print it and sit back and see what happens. Attached are three of the regional NWS office's snowfall maps. Although these show different time frames, you can assume that this will be approximate for the end of the day on Thursday with the exception of NWS Portland where maybe 2" of their projected amounts from the longer time frame falls after close. NWS Burlington did bump back up a tad bit, and NWS Albany actually trimmed back some. There is no way to be positive about where the mostly rain/snow line will be in this storm, but it should be somewhere between Mount Snow and Killington in VT. Gore is also risky, but shown with 8-12 inches. In N-NH that line looks like it will be right around Waterville Valley. In ME it is forecasted to be between Shawnee Peak and Mt. Abram. Don't scream about busts or surprise snowfall amounts, variability is clearly a part of the official forecast despite the fact that everything is presented deterministically in maps or text forecasts. All of VT has the biggest potential for a bust due to highly marginal temps. Happy hunting!

  3. #23
    BACK-END WIND STATUS
    Shown here is Stratton who has only a magic carpet and the lower mountain AMEX lift running, but it's being blasted with snow. While some resorts have called it quits out in NH and ME due to the front-end winds (they are actually letting up), when the winds shift to coming from the WSW they are causing a host of new problems. We are not yet in peak back-end wind as high winds are still creeping north in NY and VT, however they should be getting near peak in S-NY and S-VT. I do not expect lifts to go off of wind hold if they go on it today in this back-end event, however in NH and ME, those lifts may go off of wind hold, and should so long as they don't cut staff (I'm not arguing with such decisions, just stating the realities).

    Qualified for Major Wind Hold
    Belleayre
    Mount Snow
    Stratton
    Bromley
    Okemo
    Pico
    Bolton Valley (lost power)


    Have Not Yet Qualified for Major Wind Hold (<25% Terrain Loss)
    Hunter
    WIndham
    Gore
    Whiteface
    Sugarbush

  4. #24
    LAKE EFFECT IN MAINE
    The streamer coming off of Lake Ontario is not just aimed on the Tug Hill, it is hitting Whiteface, then Stowe and Smuggs, possibly Burke in a radar shadow, and then it curves around NH and drops back down into ME where it is passing between Sunday River and Sugarloaf. Quite the event. Oh, and keep your eyes on the news from Watertown because they are getting blasted.

  5. #25
    MONDAY LIGHT EVENT PART 1: Winter Is Over!
    There I finally said it, but only because the calendar changed and meteorological winter only lasts through February as Dec-Feb are the coldest calendar months in most places. March is not that much warmer than December on average, so it's still going to snow at times, and likely will later this week.

    We have a warm front passing through in the early morning on Monday, and then late Tuesday a cold front, and both will bring some precip. I'm going to cover these two days in separate posts. I've attached the NAM3K simulated radar from midnight through 4 p.m. Monday and also the temperature loop for the same period. This may be a good couple of days to avoid the fresh pow, but there may be a window in some places. Monday will actually be quite superb most in areas where little or no snow fell in this last storm.

    Temperatures: Virtually every resort in our focus area will start the day below freezing, but temperatures will rise above in all except maybe the peaks of N-VT, plus N-NH and N-ME as cold air damming will help keep those areas preserved for an extra day. Where it did snow heavily, you might get the AM in before things start to mank up and eventually become sticky. An inversion is expected though, so the tops may warm first, but more importantly, this affects the precipitation. You know the drill, stick to steeps and natural terrain and avoid the flats when this happens.

    Precipitation: It looks troublesome in an annoying sense in N-NY and possibly all of VT, but not heavy. W-NY (which is outside of our primary focus area) will surely get sticky and then rain however. So for N-NY and VT the main threat is in the PM. The NAM3K over-enhances precip so those little green dots you see on the mountains is more likely a low ceiling and mist or drizzle, but the model sees a bit more enhancement up by Jay where it could be more impactful with steady rain or drizzle developing in the afternoon. There could be some scattered freezing mist as well in the AM. Now that mist if unfrozen will only make the stiction worse if it occurs. Regardless, steep natural terrain, some good spring wax, and a Skigee may salvage this day where feet of snow occurred, but if you go further south into areas like C-NY, S-NY, S-VT, MA, S-NH and S-ME, this actually may be a fantastic day with soft snow, little if any mist, and little if any stiction. Now temps are borderline enough there could be some surprises in N-VT, but there's a clear lean against that. In N-NH and N-ME there may be some light snow that won't amount to much and it could come down as frozen non-snow at times, but not something that needs to be generally avoided.

  6. #26
    TUE-WED STORM UPDATE #2: Rain Everywhere, High Winds, Back-End Snow, and Freeze-up
    Sometimes I say what change would improve things in previous model runs, and whatever I said yesterday surely didn't happen. The low is tracking even further north, so stick a fork in it. It's safe to assume everyone starts as rain, in fact rain will affect all of NY before close on Tuesday and maybe reach into New England so I'm moving the days back to Tue-Wed. This is a moderate to heavy wind event also and the wind hold map looks like a Christmas tree. There will be some snow on the back-end however, but by Wednesday morning things start to re-freeze and by Thursday surely everyone will be frozen back up again and this will end up being a moderate icing event also. Wednesday will probably widely be a top 10 worst day of the year, though MA, S-NH, and S-ME should be fine where winds aren't impactful.

    Front-End Snow: It's gonna rain everywhere, but there's a chance Sugarloaf gets freezing rain instead. The rain should impact resorts in W-NY by 10 a.m., C-NY by noon, and S-NY and N-NY by 3 p.m. The rest of the rain only occurs while resorts are closed.

    Back-End Snow: There will be a changeover to snow just behind the low in the northern areas. This should bond, but it may not be enough to make much of a difference. The real snow in this system comes from the low pulling in moisture and absorbing a clipper passing over Ontario. The ECMWF sees good potential in N-VT, but the NAM3K sees this potential primarily being within NY with the added juice from the lakes. I generally follow the NAM3K. Note that while the time frame of the NWS snowfall map should include all of this back-end snow, it doesn't. There should be snow in NY and N-VT until at least early morning Thursday. Lake effect looks like it is going to pump hard on Snow Ridge and McCauley, and to a lesser extent W-NY. Greek Peak looks pretty well-positioned to get a nice refresher also, and Whiteface too. Jay looks best positioned in VT, and I think 6" is a given, so they may be back in play. Most of N-VT should get at least 3" out of the back-end. Some less notable amounts in N-NH and N-ME will be seen. So I believe the NWS snowfall map is way too reserved right now and I expect some upgrades, especially around the Great Lakes and N-VT.

    Freeze-up: This will happen on most higher peaks and some lower ones starting just after midnight on Wednesday and moving from west to east. This is ill timed and there is risk of slop being groomed and then later frozen for open. Late grooming would be beneficial on Wednesday in most places, but ME probably freezes back up too late.

    Wind Holds: This is a moderate to heavy wind event with the worst winds being in N-NH and ME. Winds will primarily come from the W to WNW. Peak winds will generally occur around noon Wednesday, but once a lift shuts down for wind, don't expect it to come back up. Lifts that start the day spinning are generally more tolerant of holds because they were already prepped and staff is there, and I would expect some of these lifts to run first thing and then go on hold. Thursday there may be a little risk at Sunday River and Sugarloaf of hitting our >25% easy terrain access qualifier, but it shouldn't shut them down, however on Wednesday things look bleak at those two.

  7. #27
    TUE-WED STORM UPDATE #3: Whatever
    Let me start off by saying that on Wednesday MA, S-NH and S-ME will probably be mostly without issue with spring conditions as temperatures probably will not re-freeze tracked resorts until Wednesday evening. Elsewhere, Wednesday will be a challenging day with wind holds and a late freeze that will probably cause icy conditions and close natural terrain. There is some snow on the back-end, but for the most part this will not be enough to make a major difference.

    Attached is the latest NWS Snowfall forecast stitch covering the entire event, the NAM3K simulated radar covering noon today through the end of Wednesday. The NAM3K temperatures in Celcius at noon Wednesday (highlights freezing temps), and the ECMWF rainfall map through Wednesday at 7 a.m.

    Wind Holds: See the post today covering Wednesday and Thursday wind hold risk. There will be widespread issues on Wednesday, and some remaining issues Thursday mostly in the AM.

    Rain: It will rain everywhere in the Northeast, but it's not going to rain a lot. Generally 1/4" to 1/2" is expected on the tracked ski areas. The rain is already starting in NY and should just be reaching S-NY and N-NY by close today, and it will have cleared our coverage area before open Wednesday.

    Re-Freeze: This is going to be mostly poorly timed. Today's melt and last night's rain is probably adding more water to the snowpack than the rain from this storm, but all of that available water is going to freeze up after it gets cold behind this system. All of NY, VT, N-NH and N-ME are the primary trouble spots for a re-freeze. Normal people will likely want to stay off of natural terrain until things corn up with another melt, or new snow gets added. The good news is that this should end sticky snow potential until new snow falls and then warms. Places that have a granular base will fare better in many cases, but unfortunately grooming the waterlogged pow in some areas will result in some white ice come Wednesday morning. The re-freeze happens primarily too late in the morning for resorts to groom when frozen as it takes hours for the snow to stiffen up, but it may be a good idea to do some delayed grooming and progressive opens where the wind is not expected to be an issue. I expect people will see mushy groomers set up rock hard in the morning in the areas that I highlighted. There's some chance of things staying softer in S-NY and S-VT depending on just how hard the freeze is.

    Back-End Snow: I'm pretty happy with the NWS forecasts on this one. There's a chance for both over- and under-performing as this is a light to medium back-end event. 6" on top of icy natural terrain will certainly put it back in play, but it won't be outstanding in general and the low angle stuff will fare much better since you can easily hit ice on the steeper stuff with just 6" added. Jay Peak is probably the winner in this, but generally I would recommend hunting groomers until either more snow falls or things warm up again.

    Backcountry: It's possible that in the furthest north areas the snow dries out over a period of days leaving only a firm layer on top but not a true breakable crust, but I expect inconsistencies in untracked or partially terrain that will be challenging to turn in, especially at lower angles, and packed down snow will probably be icy and irregular.

  8. #28
    WEEKEND OUTLOOK
    It's been quite some time since I wrote one of these, possibly because there has been a lot of covered weather impacting weekends. February was largely a pretty good month, but the corn horn is starting to blow.

    Saturday will probably have some notable snow waiting for you in the morning in parts of W-NY, C-NY, S-NY, S-VT and E-MA, though much of it groomed in. Most resorts will stay frozen all day long with widespread bluebird skies and a bit of a breeze in some places. I don't expect natural terrain to be very attractive unless today's back-end delivers beyond expectations in northern areas. For the most part resorts should recover from the icing event after a series of cycles except for those that were boilerplate following last week's storm that doused some with rain.

    Sunday we cycle back to spring conditions everywhere with a rapid warmup above freezing no later than noon. Lots of mostly clear skies too. I expect no issues with sticky snow as most resorts cycle Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday. Natural terrain should be back in play in the afternoon.

    Some resorts are also still resurfacing and building their bases before retiring their snowmaking systems for the season, though most have already quietly turned them off.

    I don't expect resort traffic to be very heavy as last weekend saw a push of powder hunters, and the balmy temps in the coastal areas have started some lawn work. There is however almost 3 months left of skiing and riding to be had and this group is largely not going to give up until sometime in April and beyond.

    Generally when there is no precipitation or notable winds, your weather apps can be a pretty good guide for what to expect.

  9. #29
    TUE-WED STORM WATCH
    This won't be a widespread snow event, and it won't likely result in a ton of rain either, but there's a chance that one of the last vestiges of cold air damming in the Northeast, the area from N-NH into N-ME keeps it's cold well enough for the storm to be all frozen and potentially snow.

    Shown here is a surface pressure map from Sunday through Wednesday. There is a weak area of low pressure outside of the main steering currents that will add a little juice, but what you can't see is an upper level low in Canada that will help to nudge the jet stream a little into the Northeast, and an area of high pressure off the Southeast Coast. The clockwise circulation of that high pressure will push both warm air and moisture up into the Northeast for a bit of a clash. This is a weakly organized system and there should be up to 36 hours of precipitation potential with cold air behind it. That cold air will of course firm up melted surfaces, but it will also set us up for hopefully remaining snow in the next system.

    The best all-snow potential is in ME and includes tracked resorts in S-ME just to be clear, with some chance of remaining all snow or maybe sleet in some parts of N-NH with a lean towards the northern side of the Whites. Coverage of this storm will start Friday evening.

    We have two more storms coming in beyond this according to the models with a slider on Thursday that currently is tracking closer to the coast and could produce some powder days of +6" where we haven't seen a good one in a while, and then around the following Saturday which is too far out to characterize responsibly.

  10. #30
    FRIDAY STORM UPDATE #1: Wishcasting With the GFS 101
    So we have another storm coming in on Friday in a solidly zonal flow. It features an upper level low moving across Canada embedded in a trough that will probably dig a little into the Northeast and a cold front tailing behind. Attached are model outputs from both the ECMWF (top) and GFS (bottom) for Friday at 5 p.m.. One clearly looks better than the other, and we have two scenarios.

    The first is the ECMWF where maybe based on timing people in N-ME get a little lucky and the cold air hangs on long enough to drop 3"-6" before a topping of rain and other areas end up primarily rain, though generally 1/4" to 3/4", and then a freeze up.

    The second scenario is the GFS where the trough digs deeper and spins up a secondary surface low near the coast which helps resist the warm push and enhances precipitation, resulting in a healthy snow storm for the northernmost areas and maybe all of VT. Then the freeze-up hits and the 1-2 punch eradicates COVID-19 from the entire East Coast and we erect moments to the storm by whatever the name is that the Weather Channel gives to it.

    Which one should we choose? Well, I hate to be pessimistic, and I'm not actually, but things are definitely leaning ECMWF at least in the other models right now. I checked the ECMWF ensembles also and not one of the 50 members shows an outcome like the GFS does. It bears watching for changes, but the ECMWF shown is probably the best case scenario since half the ensemble members see it coming out even warmer, and models have tended to have a cold bias further out this winter. So maybe Friday is nice and snowy in N-ME, but this largely doesn't look like a snowstorm for the Northeast. Tremblant also looks like they see some rain and wind with this, and the Quebec City area is borderline again, and also likely windy, though maybe this isn't a bad direction for them.

    Wind: I do expect some issues both Friday and Saturday, though Friday it will probably be combined with rain and focused in places like VT and NY, and Saturday it seems focused on N-NH and N-ME, but we're too early for anything solid on that front. The upper level low is being modeled very strong and it's going to crawl out of the area, so wind issues are fairly normal in this setup.

    Back-End Snow: There is potential, but it will depend on how much moisture that low can swing back into the Northeast. The problem with the ECMWF is that the low is way north and may be too far to drop sizeable amounts of snow on the back-end.

    Freeze-Up: Cold air comes through overnight into Saturday morning and at least the northern areas look like they will be hard frozen Saturday, and it gets colder on Sunday, though the extra groom will help. S-VT looks questionable for breaking freezing, but with wind I don't expect a lot of softening unless it comes in warmer than modeled. The other areas have a much better chance of softening up Saturday, but Sunday the cold may keep things firm outside of Southern New England and maybe W-NY. Note that temperature forecasts will likely change slightly at least.

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