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I wish I could say that it's time for me to start daily updates, but it's still a bit early for that since nobody in New England has so much as announced an anticipated opening date yet. However, the potential for the first widespread snowfall this coming weekend has created a bit of a buzz, so I do want to do a couple posts this week to talk about that. Also, in the next week or so I plan on doing a post that gathers together the winter forecasts that have been published by various forecasting companies.
So about this weekend. Here's the setup as of right now...
After a cold frontal passage on Thursday, a very winter-like setup will begin to develop as much colder air dives southward behind the front. Having this colder air in place is key for the rest of the weekend. On Friday, an Alberta Clipper-like storm will quickly move into the Mid-Atlantic and then move offshore Saturday morning. At the same time, a piece of energy lingering off the southeastern coast will begin to merge with the Clipper system, creating a single coastal storm that intensifies and moves up the coast. Like I said...a very winter-like setup. Although forecasting models have been trending towards a more powerful and cohesive coastal storm over the last 24 hours, they have also been trending further eastward and offshore with that storm's track.
We're still four days out from this potential storm. I would be very hesitant to stick my neck out with definitive snowfall amounts in the middle of winter, and I'm even more hesitant this time of year. Not only is there a lot of uncertainty this far in advance but there are other factors to consider with an early season storm like this. The biggest of those is how warm the ground is right now. Elevations below 3,000 feet haven't been anywhere close to cold enough to get the ground ready for accumulating snowfall. This just means that it has to snow that much longer before anything starts to accumulate and even then it will still be melting from the ground up for a little while.
Now, I'm going to risk sounding like a Debbie Downer what what I'm about to write, but those that have read my posts over the last couple of seasons know that I like to keep things realistic and in perspective. So that's all I'm going to do here when I say that at this point in time, I don't see any ski area in New England picking up enough snow to be truly skiable. No, getting out your rock skis and gliding on some snow covered grass does not count as "truly skiable". Certainly the caveat here is if the models continue to trend with a strong coastal storm but also trend the storm westward toward the coast, someone could end up getting a decent accumulation. The best chance of this that I see would be in the White Mountains at elevation...Cannon, Wildcat, or Bretton Woods for example. Again, will any of these mountains be truly skiable? I really don't think so. We do have a lot of diehards here on the East Coast though (which I love, by the way), so I'm sure there will be some folks out there making some "turns" this weekend.
I'll be updating again later this week about this potential storm. In the mean time, get excited for the first flakes of the year for most of us, and welcome to the 2014-2015 New England Daily Snow!
So this will be my last regular update for the 2013/2014 winter season. That doesn't necessarily mean it will be the last update, it's just the last regular update. Since spring has really set in now and so many folks have turned their attention to warmer weather activities (crazy, right?), it's just a logical time of year to stop frequent updates. Of course, it's not too late in New England to see a widespread snow event, so if I see one coming down the pipeline (maybe next week??) I'll be sure to post about it. I know my ski season isn't over. I'll be hitting up any of the lift serviced areas that keep going to the bitter end...Killington, Sugarloaf, Wildcat, etc....and then I'll see how long I can get some turns above treeline on Mount Washington. I'm hoping for June this year!
One more thing before I get to the weather. I do want to send a heartfelt thanks to all of you out there that take the time to read my posts. I do this because of my love for both the weather and the sport of skiing, but I also do it with the hopes of helping all of you find the best snow possible in New England. I certainly hope that I've been able to do that for you. Generally, page views, readership, and comments were up this season, and I hope to continue that trend heading into next season. As always, if you have any constructive feedback and/or suggestions to improve the way I write The New England Daily Snow, please don't hesitate to send it along via the comments section below or to my email, email@example.com.
Now, on to the weather...
This weekend will bring plenty of classic New England Spring skiing weather. Temperatures will be the warmest they have been yet this spring and there will be plenty of sunshine on Saturday and early Sunday. Later on Sunday, a weak storm will push rain into the region. Early next week, temperatures will sky rocket ahead of a slow moving and complex storm system. This system will push in Tuesday morning and may not completely exit until Wednesday morning. Precipitation will fall mainly as rain, but could end as a period of snow for some parts of the region. The long range shows some cooler temperatures and another chance for some snow later next week, especially in the north and at high elevation.
If you're heading to one of the remaining open resorts this weekend, get ready for some classic New England Spring skiing! After some clouds and maybe some fog to start the day on Saturday, expect plenty of sun to break out and temperatures to rise well into the 60's at the resorts that are still operating. There will be plenty of spring corn to harvest out there on Saturday, for sure. Sunday will start out with some sunshine, but clouds will increase through the day as a weak storm approaches from the west. There could even be some showers around Sunday afternoon.
Heading into next week, temperatures will be unseasonably warm on Monday ahead of a slow moving and complex storm system. Even in the north, highs will push to the 70 degree mark on Monday. Then on Tuesday, this system pushes some precipitation into the region and won't likely completely push out until Wednesday morning. Precipitation will certainly start as rain, but as the cold front comes through and another area of low pressure rides up that front, there could be a period of snow Tuesday night for the north and for the higher elevations. At this point, it's very difficult to say how much could fall (we're 5 days out still), but I don't expect this to be a big accumulation. Perhaps moderate at best.
After that storm passes, temperatures will generally be cooler, but at the same time will stay fairly seasonable. Later in the week next week, there is another chance for some snowfall at high elevation and in the north as a storm tracks up the coast. If this one plays out as it looks right now in the models, this could actually end up being a decent snowfall for elevations above 2,000 to 3,000 feet.
Just an FYI...all good things must come to an end, and this Friday will bring the end of my regular updates for the 2013/2014 winter season. I will be posting one more update (after this one) on Friday. Anyway...
Our next storm will track to the north of the region on Thursday night and Friday. Temperatures will warm ahead of this storm's cold front, meaning precipitation will fall as rain across the region. Heading into the weekend, temperatures will cotinue to moderate and will make for some great spring skiing conditions. There is the chance though that some precipitation moves through Friday night in southern portions of the region. Looking toward next week, a complicated and slow moving system will bring very warm temperatures and significant precipitation over the course of several days from the beginning through the middle of the week.
Thursday night, a storm will pass by well to our north and drag a cold front across the region as it does. This will mean that temperatures will warm ahead of the cold front through Friday and rain will be the dominant form of precipitation as the cold front approaches and passes. Elevations above 3,000 feet may see a little bit of snow, but it won't amount to much, if anything, and will eventually change to rain. Temperatures will fall after the cold front passes Friday afternoon and some snow showers could fall in the higher elevations, again, not likely amounting to much.
Heading into the weekend, temperatures will continue to moderate and any resorts that are continuing to operate will see some great spring conditions. There is the chance that a storm spreads in some precipitation Friday night and Saturday morning, but it may track too far south. If this storm does take a more northerly track, there could be some snowfall in the higher elevations of the White Mountains and Western Maine.
Looking ahead to next week, there could be several intersting days from the beginning of the week into the middle of the week. A slow moving, complex storm system sill develop to our west on Monday. This will bring plenty of warm air northward and then eventually precipitation. Initially, precipitation will be mainly rain but depending on how this system moves through the region, there could be a period of snow in the north and at higher elevations Tuesday night or Wednesday morning.
After a winter that had a hard time letting go, spring is certainly here and itsn't going anywhere real soon. Unfortunately, this also means that the general storm track over the next week is not going to be a wintry one either. The first of two storms in the next 5 days will move in tonight, with the center of the low tracking to our west, rain will be the main form of precipitation. The second storm will come at us from the south next Tuesday, but the track will still take the center of the low too far west for much, if any snowfall. The long range shows continued spring like temperatures, although it does look a little quieter with regards to storms.
I have to admit that this time of year, I start to get much less depressed when storms bring more liquid precipitation than snow. Sure, it would be nice in some ways if winter just kept on going like it did all the way through the end of March, but of course that's not entirely realistic given the climatology of New England. This time of year, I just take the weather as it comes and I'll keep skiing as long as there's snow somewhere to ski on.
I told you all that to tell you this...more rain is coming in two doses over the next 5 days. The first storm arrives this afternoon and evening, with the center of the low tracking well to our west putting us on the warm side of the storm. Some locations further west and north in the region could see some mixed precipitation from this storm, but I don't expect that to add up to much. Otherwise, expect a good soaking rain tonight, tapering off during the morning on Saturday. The timing of this storm should be just right so as not to completely rain out what will end up being the last Saturday of operations for a lot of resorts, but certainly be prepared for some showers. At the furthest north resorts, espcially those at high elevation, there is the chance for a little accumulating snowfall on the backside of the storm. I don't expect any big accumulations, but a coating to 3 inches isn't out of the question for resorts like Jay, Stowe, and Saddleback.
Oh, and Sunday of this weekend, by the way, will be a pretty nice day for resorts that are closing to end out their season.
Our next storm then arrives early next week, around Tuesday. A few days ago, this one showed some promise of bringing widespread snowfall with it, but since then the track of the storm has trended signficantly further inland. Also, with model agreement on this track across the board, I have very low confidence that we see much if any snowfall out of this one.
Not much to speak of in the long range right now, except that temperatures will generally stay seasonable and there could be a weaker storm toward the end of next week that might bring some snow to northern high elevation resorts.
This is going to be a special update that isn't going to have anything to do with the weather, but certainly has a lot to do with skiing in New England! I figured with the onset of spring and a quiet few days of weather ahead, you guys wouldn't mind.
A lot of folks don't realize it, but there are actually a handful of locations in New England that do experience natural avalanches. Mount Washington (elevation 6,288 feet) and the Presidential Range in New Hampshire certainly has the most frequent, most widespread, and biggest avalanches. With treeline at about 4,000 feet above sea level in the Presidentials, an average of around 300 inches of snow annually, and some of the highest winds anywhere on the planet, there is plenty of avalanche prone terrain. Mount Washington is also home to the country's oldest avalanche forecast center, and the only forecast center east of the Rockies.
This past weekend a rare location for avalanches, the summit cone snowfields, slid big:
The crown was generally 3-4 feet thick and over 600 feet wide. The debris field (seen above) was estimated at around 20 feet deep in places. In fact, it was the biggest slide on the summit cone ever recorded according to the snow rangers. Although the snowfields are certainly classified as avalanche terrain, they don't often slide and very rarely slide big. These snowfields are a place that I spent quite a bit of time during my six year tenure working for the Mount Washington Observatory. During the mid-winter months, I tended to head to the snowfields rather than the steeper gullies and couloirs around the mountain because of the relative safety of the terrain with respect to avalanches, not to mention that I could get a couple of quick laps in over the course of an hour break from work. Of course, I always kept in the back of my mind that I was technically in avalanche terrain, but I also knew that it would take a very special set of conditions to actually make the fields slide. Apparently that set of conditions was met this past weekend!
The best part about all this? There were no fatalities. Heck, there weren't even any injuries. Anyone that knows how many people are on Mount Washington on any given weekend knows how unlikely that is with a slide this big in a location that sees a particularly large amount of traffic.
A couple of volunteers for the Mount Washington Observatory witnessed the slide from below and recorded their experience here. The snow rangers at the Mount Washington Avalanche Center also posted their offical summary of the incident. It's a good read, and you can check it out on their website.