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    Sunday will be subtle

    By Weatherman

    I'm happy to be able to put forward a remotely optimistic weekend outlook. Some light precipitation (of mixed phase depending on location) on Friday night will give way to a beautiful day. Saturday looks to be a warm and sunny days with temperatures in the 40s in the valleys, and 30s at the summits. But all eyes should be focused on Sunday, which looks like a classic warm air overrunning scenario. In these situations, Vermont typically starts as snow and switches over to straight rain. But northern New Hampshire into Maine can be a very different story where cold air damming hangs tough. Looking toward Sunday afternoon, snow may still be the dominant precipitation over the White Mountains and northeast into Maine. But the temperature profile is going to be borderline. The exact details will depend on to what extent a secondary surface low develops off the New England coast, which will help to reinforce the cold air damming. If this lows fails to develop, we could be left with freezing rain or a straight cold rain. Optimistically so far it looks like the White Mountains will see a 6 inch paste job on Sunday. For those of you savvy on Skew-T diagrams, note the deep layer of overrunning warm air all the way up to 650 mb. That nearly isothermal layer looks to stay just below freezing, and should lead to a pasty snow, but it won't take much of a shift to flip it. Updates will be necessary as the storm approaches.
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First widespread snowmaking window in sight

I'm settled in a home with two bowls full of candy awaiting the Trick or Treaters. Yes, we're running a bit behind this year due to Sunday's storm and the subsequent power outage. On top of that today is my wife's birthday, and my mother's. Yes, both of them. But today's multi-occasion theme has me in the mood to transition to welcome November news. Snowmaking will be coming online in the foreseeable future. Killington has proven a willingness to blow snow in the most marginal conditions, even if that means that it all melts. They'll get a brief window at elevation tonight. But the window will be very limited and marginal. I doubt that stops them. The situation looks a little better at Sunday River, and they may see another even more marginal window tomorrow night. It's an operations call as to whether the light up the guns. We're in for a warm-up early next week so they'd likely lose much of what they can put down. Early next week we're looking at yet another warm up with rain moving through the region. Yuck. But on the back side the situational looks much more favorable. I'm personally planning on making my first turns of the season next week, and I suggest you too clear your calendars. Starting on Tuesday night we're looking at nightly snowmaking windows! And the temperature profiles and durations look favorable enough that most mountains will likely get in the act. Below is the mid-week forecast at Sunday River at elevation. This initial mid-week window will be nights-only which may mean that some ski areas will sit this one out. But the cool streak looks to continue through next weekend. This could provide a long enough window for most of the traditional early-season players to open if they so wish. We're still a week out so this is subject to change, but it is showing up in the ensembles of all the global models. This is about as robust a signal as you'll see a week plus out. My skis are ready! Are yours?

Weatherman

Weatherman

 

Welcome to November

I'm glad that the last storm is behind us. I wish I had a catchy name for it, but it sucked. I lost power at 8pm on Sunday and got in back at 8pm on Tuesday. Just to rub it in, my house was a smoke den last night because I lit the fireplace for heat (before the power came back on) but it wasn't quite cold enough to draft properly. Enough of my problems... we need some good news. Killington is making snow! But you probably already known that. They desperately need to put down some snow before the world cup, and they make a lot of money off early season stairway hiking with Joey from Jersey. Killington is nowhere near opening despite over 24 hours of "production" because conditions were marginal at best. They're blowing almost entirely air at the wet bulbs we have. And the other early-season player, Sunday River, is still cleaning up from a crippling wind and rain storm. The next snowmaking window comes Friday night into Saturday morning, but once again conditions are going to be marginal at best. Saturday night into Sunday may bring another marginal window, especially toward, Sunday River, but I would not count on it. Most ski areas will choose to sit out this weekend and save their money. Monday brings warmer weather, but that is where the predictability ends. Snowmaking temperatures may return for Monday night into Tuesday, or they may not. Midweek next week into the weekend could be boringly quiet with just some showers, or things could get interesting. What should I say in such circumstances? Recent weather has been anything but boring. Thousands across New England are still without power to prove it. But I'm tired of not seeing any snow in the forecast. If you promise not to judge me later, I'll get things started here. For your personal pleasure in the comfort of your own home.... this morning's GFS put out a bonafide November nor'easter with snow all the way down to Boston. Yummy! Next week's forecast is highly uncertain. We're approaching one of those windows with high unpredictability. Model solutions show no agreement. Buckle up! In the interim, I'm going to continue to pretend that snow is coming.

Weatherman

Weatherman

 

Subtropical hybrid coming our way

As promised, a potent October storm is heading our way. I know I promised this would be a ski weather blog, but I might as well post something to give me something to do this morning. Bottom line is watch out for strong winds and heavy rain. Coastal flooding is not a concern as the tides are low. I'm not expecting widespread flooding, but it sure is going to be wet! Expect widespread 2-4" rainfall totals. See the NAM rainfall forecast below. The real threat with this storm is going to be strong winds, especially along the coast. Much of the energy is coming from Tropical Depression Eighteen which is tracking up the coast and will probably strengthen to a tropical storm. As the tropical moisture interacts with the mid-latitude energy, winds will continue increase. It looks like the subtropical core, and the strongest of the winds, will remain just offshore. Even with the core offshore, expect wind gusts over 50 mph leading to power outages, especially in coastal areas. The plot below shows the forecast sustained wind speeds. Looking past the storm, we'll see at least a few nightly snowmaking windows in the first several days of November. The guidance is mostly consistent with this, although it's not clear if there is going to be enough opportunity to get on the snow. It seems very unlikely that we'll be skiing by next Saturday, but the snow guns will likely be running at night. Maybe we'll see an opening shortly thereafter?

Weatherman

Weatherman

 

Another week of wet ahead, then November comes

As promised, the last two days featured wet weather brought up by a strong southerly flow pumping up the subtropical moisture. I wish I could say that we're done with it, but the week ahead looks to bring very similar weather. The frontal boundary parked on top of the New England coastline isn't going to clear the region until Friday. Behind it dry weather should settle in for Saturday and the start of Sunday. However, by Sunday evening we'll see a return to the strong subtropical flow from the south bringing potentially damaging winds and strong downpours stretching through Monday. Give that it is five days out, it's no surprise that the exact details are fuzzy, but the pattern is clear as shown both in the GFS and ECMWF. Note the strong wind out of the south pumping subtropical moisture into New England. Don't get hung up on the timing or exact placement of the rain in the plot below, but note the potential for an additional several inches of heavy rain concentrated where convection trains into narrow bands. The heavy rain won't be the only story. The potential exists for damaging winds, especially along the coast. You'll find some alarmists noting near hurricane force sustained winds in some of today's model runs. It's too early to talk about that sort of magnitude. It's more likely you'll see something similar to the brisk southerly winds of the last two days. The strength of the upcoming system will depend on how well the tropical energy develops as it moves off the Florida coast. The intensity of these subtropical systems are typically poorly handled by operational models as their energy is derived from convection (thunderstorms) that are too small scale to resolve in the global models. The weather turns more seasonable heading into early November. The next window for snowmaking opens in the early morning Wednesday, November 1 and could last nightly through that weekend. As previously mentioned, humidity may continue to be an issue and snowmaking conditions look marginal. The operational GFS is currently showing a workable window, but this is uncertain. I suspect the cold here is greatly exaggerated. This window isn't evident in the ensemble mean, but I expect the ensemble to run a bit warm for a few different reasons. We're too far out to talk about it with any confidence, but I can't rule out the chance of a couple aggressive ski areas hosting some rock skiing that weekend if the forecast trends in their favor. It seems more likely that the snowmaking window begins in earnest sometime that weekend of November 4, and we see some early season openings early in the week of November 6-12. UPDATE: Just to show how touchy that Wednesday morning snowmaking windows is, here is the latest GFS ensemble temperature plot.

Weatherman

Weatherman

 

As you were

Fall sucks. All sorts of waiting around and getting your hopes up. I know we were talking about skiing next weekend, but I'm much more pessimistic now. As I mentioned before, the outcome is all going to depend on the transition, and right now that looks wet. All the way through Halloween the cold air stays out over the Midwest, and the firehose of humidity gets pumped right at us. In the plot above note the surface winds out of the southeast pumping in moist (high dewpoint). The frontal boundary remains sharply to our West. The shift in the model forecast over the last few days is both a testament to how far out we can predict, but also the error scales inherent in those forecasts. The cold, dry air is still forecast to pour south, but its position has nudged just far enough to the west to left us out.

Weatherman

Weatherman

 

October regime change

There's no doubt that October 2017 has been warm so far. The foliage season is an unequivocal bust. So let's look forward to ski season! The next week is going to be a beautiful stretch of warm and dry fall weather. It'll be a great time to get some yard work done and tie up all those loose ends before ski season arrives. I'll personally be staining my porch railing this weekend. But the warm weather is going to come to an abrupt and wet end in the middle of next week. Behind this transition, colder air will move in for the last weekend of October. How that transition occurs is an open question, but there's plenty of energy to work with. Below is the latest GFS model run, but don't read too much into it. The transition circa Wednesday, October 25 is likely to be a dynamic one. There looks to be plenty of subtropical moisture coming into contact with the cold air burst. Recent model guidance suggests we'll be looking at a robust storm crossing being fed by a strong low-level jet. The snapshot below shows an example of this, with the color scaling showing the 850 mb wind speed. (Note: 850 mb represents approximately the elevation of the high peaks in New Hampshire) After this dynamic system clears the area, I expect productive snowmaking temperatures over the weekend. The plot below shows the ensemble average lows on Saturday night. I expect to see colder temperatures than this at elevation. I don't expect to see any ski areas open on Saturday, but it still looks likely we're talking about skiing somewhere in New England by Halloween. Sunday, October 29 is still in play too. How the Wednesday transition plays out is likely the key.

Weatherman

Weatherman

 

Wax those skis!

Winter is coming! Sorry for the delay. I'm currently in Montreal for a multi-day bachelor party which has been a little... distracting. But I wanted to let everyone know the good news: regime change is on the way! It's too early to be giving many specifics, but start thinking seriously about opening day in two weeks. The signs have been there for a while, and I'm now confident enough to post it. It's time to make contingency plans for skiing in late October. I'd clear my calendar for the weekend of October 28-29. The trend is for a pattern change bring colder weather to the East. The signal has been more focused around the upper Midwest, but given the recent warmth it will feel dramatically different.

Weatherman

Weatherman

 

Warm weather continues

I've been meaning to post an update for days now, but there just isn't much to say. Expect the warmth to continue for at least the next two weeks. There are hints of a pattern change coming up after that, but those hints are always there. The weather models often become dominated by seasonal-scale forcing at this time of the year. Changes in the energy balance happen so quickly that they are hard to ignore. We've already seen daytime highs cool by nearly ten degrees since the start of the warm spell simply due to seasonal shifts. Even though the temperatures have cooled in that regard, we're still running well above average and will continue to do so. By now you've probably noticed that the foliage is running well behind schedule and the colors are dull at best. Expect that to continue throughout the fall. This is an overwhelmingly poor year for leaf peeping. My only comfort is that there is little to no correlation with this pattern to the winter ahead. The truth is that seasonal trends in the Northeast are difficult to forecast, and nearly impossible at this point in the season.

Weatherman

Weatherman

 

Climate change and skiing in New England

Today's post goes out by special request of @Los. He asks: That is a depressing thought! The good news is that your children will not be facing a world without snow, thought they almost certainly will live a much warmer world than you did. We live in warmer world than our grandparents did. Remember the prolonged cold of the winter of 2014-15? That used to be a typical winter a century ago. Though with increasing greenhouse gas emissions it's likely the changes over the next century with be even starker than that. It's important to remember that global climate change is indeed global, but not uniform. Climate changes are greater toward the poles, a process known as polar amplification. During warm periods, the temperature gradient between the poles and equator is reduced. You can see this in temperature trends to date. Although the warming is clearly amplified over the Arctic, it's not as clear what the winter temperature trend has been in New England over the more recent past. Note the very strong warming over the Arctic, but a noticeable cooling over Eurasia and central North America. There has been essentially no trend over New England. So what is going on? That's a controversial question. It seems to be clearly linked to systematically weaker Arctic polar vortex. As the Arctic warms, the vortex breaks down and cold air is no longer "locked" in the Arctic. It is free to spill down to mid-latitudes resulting in the more frequent cold air outbreaks over the continents. It may seem counter-intuitive, but a warming global climate may actually not (yet) be negatively effecting our winter winter here in New England. But why is this happening now? My favorite explanation is that it's all about the dramatic loss of Arctic sea ice, but the physical link between the loss of sea ice and weakening of the vortex remains to be clearly established. There are a number of contributing factors to the decline of sea ice, especially melting from below due to warm water transport into the Arctic Ocean. The science isn't quite there yet, and there is no guarantee that this recent trend continues.

Feeling better yet? Unfortunately the mid-winter trends don't apply to the fall and spring shoulder season. There is very strong evidence that the duration of winter is shortening on both ends, even though the core of winter isn't changing much. Until about 15 years ago, this trend was largely being offset by an increase is snowmaking coverage resulting in ever longer ski seasons, but that is no longer the case. While snow guns are becoming much more efficient to operate, they haven't changed the basic underlying thermodynamics. Ski season is starting later and ending earlier., and this trend is expected to continue. The figure below shows the expected number of days with snowcover under two different emission scenarios according to a climate model. The model predicts the snow season to shorten by at least two weeks on each end. I hope this gives you a better idea of how climate change is likely to impact skiing in New England. Low-elevation ski areas, especially in southern New England are likely to suffer the most. The impacts will be most dramatic on their ability to open early season as warming temperatures make snowmaking temperature less certain in advance of the Christmas season. On the plus side, skiing at Jay Peak and Wildcat is likely to become significant more tolerable. Don't think the industry is in denial. Why do you think Les Otten has such a keen eye on the Balsams?

Weatherman

Weatherman

 

Enjoy the warmth

I know some of you are looking forward to cool fall weather. Unfortunately it just does not look promising for the long term. This week will be summer-like warm, followed but a brief cool down for the upcoming weekend stretching into early next week. Surface temperature anomalies for the upcoming weekend But that fall-like weather will be short lived. Look for a return to warm weather upcoming for Columbus Day weekend. It'll likely be beautiful for getting outside but will likely keep the peak foliage confined to northern New England. Keep that chin up! My skis all went to the shop this weekend for a stone grind. For those of your with backyard gardens, you have at least another couple of weeks without having to worry about frost. It looks like we'll get a long growing season this year.

Weatherman

Weatherman

 

Tropical dance and regime change to follow

The next week is going to be a story of change in the East. This weekend will be (pleasantly?) warm will high temperatures reach into the 80s. For those of us yearning for winter weather, we'll need to wait a bit longer. But if you want one last shot at summer fun, Sunday may be your last chance! The 850 mb temperature anomaly map below show just how unusually warm this weekend is going to be. Notice that warm bubble in the middle of the Sargasso Sea? That's Hurricane Maria on her way north from Puerto Rico. It's too early to be talking about an exact track up the coast, but the trend continues to be out to sea. Interestingly it may actually be the decay of Jose that dictates her track. For you weather weenies out there, you're about to see some really cool dynamics in play next week. For a few days now the dynamic models have been consistently showing the remnant circulation of Jose deflecting Maria in a example of the Fujiwhara Effect. This is clearly visible in the vorticity animation. Note that as Maria runs into the vorticity maximum left from Jose off the coast of Cape Cod, she is deflected to the left of track before the steering currents push her out to sea. Once Maria move out late next week, cooler air will move in for next weekend. Expect a crisp smell of fall as October arrives next weekend. Skier spirits will soar and leaves will rustle. It should be a great weekend for a campfire in the backyard.

Weatherman

Weatherman

 

Hello world!

Welcome to the inaugural post of "Chasing Snow." This blog will feature weather in New England with an emphasis on winter weather and skiing. How often will it be updated? As frequently as needed. Expect post to slow down over the weekend or other times when I am too busy skiing to talk about the weather. Will you tell me the best place to ski every weekend? Absolutely! At least I hope to give you the information you need to make an educated decision. What content will you provide? Expect more than a simple forecast. As a reader I hope you'll learn something from this blog. Look forward to technical but accessible forecast discussion. When appropriate, pretty pictures will be used. What are you waiting for? Cold beer. Snow. Eternal fame and fortune. My wife to get home so I can eat dinner.

Weatherman

Weatherman

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