... is a blog dedicated to winter weather and skiing in New England.
Bryan K. Woods, Ph.D. founded Northeast Mountain Sports and publishes this blog dedicated to skiing and winter weather. He received a B.S. in Meteorology from UMass Lowell and his Ph.D. in Geology & Geophysics from Yale. He is an expert in mountain meteorology with multiple peer-reviewed publications. He worked for five years as a Senior Staff Scientist at Atmospheric and Environmental Research, Inc and its parent company Verisk Analytics. He is currently a Principal Engineer at HERE Technologies, the Open Location Platform company.
Bryan lives in Chelmsford, MA with his wife and ski tuning bench. He spends his winter weekends in North Conway, NH or elsewhere skiing. He is actively involved in the Eastern Inter-Club Ski League (EICSL) as its Secretary, and a Board member of the Makusue Ski And Sport Club in North Conway, NH and ACE Ski and Board Club in Chelmsford, MA.
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Recent Weather Updates from "Chasing Snow"
By Weatherman in Chasing SnowStop me if you've heard this before... we're looking at another great weekend of skiing. And it's only mid-November! Thursday night into Friday will bring the third snow storm in a week to much of ski country.
This is the part of the discussion where I'd typically show you the model forecast maps for snowfall accumulation. I'll do that this time but please be aware that I think they're all crazy. Seriously the simple snowfall algorithms are not handling this well. They are either crazy high in the Mid-Atlantic or really underplaying it in the mountains. Let's jump in and have a look.
Using a simple 10:1 snowfall ratio:
No. Just no. That's crazy town in the Mid-Atlantic into southern New England. To be fair to the modelers, there are more complicated snowfall schemes. So using that same model run and a more advanced microphysics scheme...
This lays out much more reasonable numbers in southern regions, though the mountain accumulations are under-done. The real story in much of southern New England (hi Wachusett!), is going to be icing. That very well may be the headline issue across the region. I'm a little concerned about power outages as a result, but not ready to broadcast that too loudly, especially considering that winds will not be an issue. A look at the Worcester precipitation breakdown is showing a whole lot of ice though.
So where should we be skiing this weekend? Smart money is on Wildcat or Sugarloaf. Both already have a base on the ground and off-piste skiing should be in play. Look for around 8" at both mountains out of this storm. Vermont ski areas should see a widespread 6". Snow will start late Thursday night and last until early afternoon Friday.
A closer look at the envelope of snowfall forecasts for Rumford, ME will serve as our proxy for both mountains. The high-resolution guidance envelope is squarely in the 5-6" range, but mountain enhancement will get you to the 8"
By Weatherman in Chasing SnowGood news skiers!
Friday night will bring an elevation snow storm to northern New Hampshire and Maine. After getting off-piste in 15" of natural on October 27 at Wildcat, this is more welcome news. Sorry, Vermont skiers. Once again you'll be missing out. The thermal profile is such that the valley will likely not see any accumulation. This is likely going to be something that only accumulates about about 1,700 - 2,000'. Look for snow in the notches and mountains, but not the low terrain.
Best place to ski this weekend? Hands down Wildcat again.
After the storm moves through, we'll enter into a prolonged snowmaking window. We're looking at several days (at least a week) of below-freezing weather that should allow a lot of mountain to open going into mid-November. Below is the 5-day temperature anomaly map for heart of the window.
Before people criticize me for not mentioning it... yes, there is a chance of a substantial snow storm next Tuesday. For those ski areas that choose to operate mid-week (that's a short list), there could be some great skiing. We'll have more on that when we actually have a better handle on what to expect. In the interim, here's your teaser:
By Weatherman in Chasing SnowWax those boards, boys and girls. We have a genuine powder day coming up on Saturday, in October! Powder might be a bit of a stretch. Dense snow is expected. A paste job is likely.
This weekend we'll be skiing at 4 mountains in New England: Mt Snow, Killington, Wildcat, and Sunday River. Of those, Wildcat is easily the best bet. They reported nearly 10" of fresh snow today. They are likely to receive the most snow on Saturday, and they are offering top-to-bottom skiing off the express quad. Look for total daytime snow accumulation at Wildcat on the order of 4-6" on Saturday.
Despite talk of strong winds, I am not expecting it to be an issue at Wildcat on Saturday. Overnight the snow is likely to turn to a mixed bag, and then do rain on Sunday morning. It remains to be seen if we can sneak in some good runs on Sunday morning before it completely changes over.
What is the ski of choice for this weekend? 90-something mm underfoot seems like the right play. And rock skis will be a must. Depending on conditions, poaching may be called for.
Next week looks like continued cool and unsettled, but mostly rain, in the the early week. Warmer weather moves in late week, and turning cooler again for next weekend.
By Weatherman in Chasing SnowAttention snowmakers: I hope you rest up tonight, because Wednesday night shortly after dark it will be time to get down to business. We're expecting at least two prolonged snowmaking windows. The first Wednesday (10/16) night into Friday morning, and another Saturday night into Tuesday morning. Below is a modeled temperature timeline for Jay Peak. Note that temperatures on Sunday and Monday may not stay cold enough to allow daytime snow production.
With the arrival of the cold air on Wednesday night, we should see some accumulating snowfall at elevation in northern New England. Except for a stay coating which will quickly melt, don't expect any impact at lower elevations.
So will we get any skiing in this weekend? That really depends on what daytime temperatures and humidity do during the day Thursday. Dewpoints in the teens mean that humidity won't be an issue. At the moment it looks like high temperatures should stay cold enough for productive snow making above about 2500 feet. It's possible we'll have upper mountain skiing on offer at Killington and Sunday River this coming weekend. If base depths aren't there in time, skiing early next week seems like a safe bet. By the weekend of October 27, anybody who wants to open should be able to do so. A third snowmaking window setup late next week Wednesday into Thursday.
Looking past the weekend of October 27, the pattern turns warmer. The days surrounding Halloween should be back above freezing with temperatures trending near to above average. Beyond that is too far to see.
By Weatherman in Chasing SnowThe time for stoke is now. Are you ready? October skiing is highly likely this year. So when does it start? Look for snow guns to come alive this Wednesday evening (October 17). Thursday night will be even colder. Look for a hard freeze almost all the way down to the coast.
Below is the National Weather Service temperature forecast for Killington Peak.
Freezing temperature should be widespread Wednesday and Thursday nights. Most ski areas should lose snowmaking temperatures at the base during Thursday afternoon, but should maintain them at elevation. A few higher elevation areas like Wildcat may be able to maintain top-to-bottom temperatures throughout Thursday. But none of those areas tend to blow top-to-bottom so early in the season. Below is a chart of Thursday afternoon temperatures.
It's too early to say whether we will see turns being made this weekend at typical early players like Sunday River, Killington, or Bretton Woods. We'll have to wait until we see exactly what conditions materialize before we make that call. But I strongly expect to see skiing by Saturday, October 27. Next week looks to be well below average in temperatures. There should be multiple nightly snowmaking windows. Most ski areas that want to have October skiing should be able to do so. Below is the 5-day temperature anomaly forecast leading up to that Saturday.
Get stoked! I'll be doing some ski tuning this week.
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Recent Member Comments on "Chasing Snow"
Saturday looks good. Can to get the wet bulb temperature, since that's what determines when they can make snow? For those that don't know, a wet bulb bellow 28 degrees is a max for snowmaking. Wet bulbs are lower than the ambient air temperature, especially with low humidity
Yup, snow is here! On Saturday 10/13 I was driving across the Kanc and ran into light snow. On the morning of 10/14 I could see a good coating on the summits of Moosilauke, Cannon, the Franconia Ridge, and the Presidentials. I think I got some pics but I don't have my camera with me at work. Will post them tonight if there are any good shots. Cannon posted some good pics on IG and FB.