As expected, conditions over the last week have been much more seasonable, and did allow for some snowmaking for the most northern resorts in the region. Enough snow was able to be made to get Sunday River back up and running, and also allow Bretton Woods to join the few and proud open resorts in New England. Looking to the future though...
The Short Range
The good news is that the back end of the rain we are currently experiencing will bring some cooler air in for the weekend and into early next week. We're not talking about anything wicked cold here, but finally we'll see some temperatures just on the cool side of average for this time of year. This will mean more snowmaking opportunities for northern resorts that want to take advantage at this early time of year. There could even be some 'round the clock snowmaking for northern locations Sunday night through Tuesday. Again, this time of year the amount of snow that is made (or if any snow is made at all) is more dependent on a particular resort's plan for an opening date. We all know that Sunday River is going to get after it at every opportunity during the early part of the season. Of course, I'm sure Bretton Woods will continue to make more snow. I expect that Wildcat will get in on the action and probably Sugarloaf too. However, there are a lot of resorts that may not make snow this time of year even if presented with 'round the clock snowmaking opportunities. It's always a business decision, and each resort looks at it differently.
As far as any natural snow is concerned, the prospects aren't looking too good. On Sunday, a storm will track up the St. Lawrence River Valley and off to our west. At the same time, another storm will take shape off the Mid-Atlantic coast. As of right now, it does appear that these two systems will phase, or in other words, merge. That phasing is what we need to see in order to get a big coastal storm that pulls in enough cold air to support widespread snowfall. There is still time for this to change, but now that we're only 3 days out from this storm and there is generally good model agreement at this time. Even if the storms do not phase, I expect that the high elevations of the northern part of the region will see some light accumulations.
The Long Range
Looking towards the Thanksgiving holiday, it looks as though we will see a bit of warmup right before the holiday, and then a cool down right after. Neither the warm up nor the cool down will be extreme. Unfortunately, the timing is bad with the warmup coming right before Turkey Day. I wish that I could say that there will be a major pattern change toward significantly colder temperatures coming down the pipeline, but at this time, I just don'e see that happening within the next 7 to 10 days.
The (much) Longer Range
It seems like every year there is more and more long range seasonal forecasts being produced by more and more forecasting outlets being put out earlier and earlier. While there is a lot of good science that goes into these long range forecasts, there is also a whole lot of uncertainty. Personally, I don't do long range forecasting, so you won't see me doing my own prognosticating as to what we can expect for the upcoming winter season. Of course, that doesn't mean that I'm not happy to talk about what others are saying.
It's an El Nino year, but you already knew that. If you didn't know that, well, I'm shocked very surprised given the media coverage that this phenomenon has gotten this year. This is not a new phenomenon as many of you already know, but as is the case with many aspects of our weather (i.e. the polar vortex), the media has taken a liking to latching onto "normal" aspects of our weather and then sensationalizing them. Granted, the El Nino on for this winter is beginning to look quite strong. Some are predicting the strongest in a long time. So what sort of effect can we expect to have these warmer than normal waters off the western coast of South America? Generally speaking, El Nino winters in New England end up seeing higher than average levels of precipitation, but are also not generally very cold. This can mean that we see a lot of back and forth with warmer and cooler temperatures, and can also mean snow one week and rain the next. Again, these are just general expectations from a strong El Nino year.
It was very interesting watching all the long range forecasts get published this fall. Some were in line with the general expectations of an El Nino year (AccuWeather) and others were very surprising given the strong El Nino presence (Farmer's Almanac). Of course, the argument can be made that the latter is not very heavily based on hard science, and that argument would be a very valid one.
The only personal opinion I will throw out there with regards to a seasonal forecast...call it a prediction if you want...is that I think we need to have some tempered expectations this year. Coming off such an overall great season like last year can be tough. I know I want every year to be like last year, although I could have done without the bitter cold. I think that this year will be feast or famine for a lot of resorts in New England, and the cutoff could be sharp. To be more specific, southern resorts could be more on the famine side while the northern high elevation resorts could reap the benefits of their generally colder locations.
The Non-Weather Related Stuff
Before I wrap up this post, I just wanted to say thank you to everyone for commenting and email their thoughts about the possibility of expanding the New Hampshire & Maine Daily Snow to include some non-weather related postings on an infrequent basis. Generally speaking, people's opinions were very mixed. In fact, it was nearly split down the middle. I will be gathering up all the feedback and conferring with Joel on what to do going forward through the winter. At the very least, you can continue to expect updates to the weather. That much, you can be sure of :-)
My next update will come around the middle of next week again at the latest. If the late weekend storm starts to look more promising, I will be sure to post an update about that.