Monday, March 10, 2014
As we pass by the MLK mile marker on the highway of the winter sports season in the Northeast, we are about to enter a two week period that will be decidedly in favor of those of us who favor cold and snow.
The upper air pattern over North America and the adjacent waters of the Pacific and Atlantic is in the process of reverting to the configuration that has been favored much of this winter - a western jet stream ridge and an eastern upper level trough.
The eastern trough is strengthening early this week as it becomes a more and more inviting receptacle for deliveries of arctic air. A surface cold front is now cutting southward through the Northeast, and as it continues to press toward the mid-Atlantic region tonight, much colder air will follow the frontal passage.
At the same time, low pressure will move along the boundary from west to east and generate a windblown moderate snowfall. Unfortunately, the track of the storm will be to the south of New England, and due to the relatively small size of the disturbance, it will not be able to reach northern New England’s resorts with much of its’ snowfall.
The arrival of the arctic front will trigger numerous snow showers and a few heavier squalls later today and tonight, and that modest accumulation will help the snowmakers as they get back to work and take advantage of the influx of pure arctic air.
While a major snowfall has not occurred in a few weeks now, light snow was fairly persistent over the mountains this past weekend, and slowly but surely the surfaces have been softening up. The snowmaking that gets underway later today will be going 24/7 this week, so you can look forward to packed powder surfaces becoming more prevalent as the next few days unfold.
I realize that skiers and riders know how to prepare themselves for low wind chill values, but if you are headed out to the slopes through the middle of this week, you will be well advised to wear an extra layer and make sure you have a neck gator or scarf to keep you warm. If you are sliding with a friend, be sure to check one another for those white spots of frostbite on cheeks and noses after every run.
One of the more frustrating weather setups for skiers and riders in New England occurs when cold air is abundant but the same cold air acts to suppress the storm track too far to the south to deliver the goods to our favorite resorts. Over the next 10 days or so we are going to find ourselves in that set-up much of the time, covered by arctic air but with a northwesterly flow aloft.
The temps should ease off to near normal levels this weekend, but a reinforcing shot of very cold air is going to arrive early next week, and the renewed northwesterly flow will tend to keep the storm track over the mid-Atlantic region, perhaps reaching southern New England. While it will be tough for a coastal storm to penetrate the cold and spread heavy snow across the North Country, we will continue to see small scale disturbances embedded in the flow around the big trough, and those systems will generate light snowfalls from time to time.
So, instead of Mother Nature giving us the haymaker that we all desire, we are much more apt to be hit with occasional jabs through the end of the month. If you're thinking of skiing this week, here are a couple of events that might be of interest to you:
Saddleback in Rangeley will have a $10 Bring a Friend deal on Wednesday and they picked up about 4 inches of fresh snow on Sunday.
This coming Saturday and Sunday, Attitash in Bartlett, N.H. will hold its 7th annual Military Salute Weekend. Active, retired, and veteran men and women can ski or ride for free, and there will be discounted lift tickets for family members.
As The Skiing Weatherman, Herb Stevens has been the go-to guy for snow conditions for skiers and riders for more than 25 years, first on televisions stations up and down the East Coast, and now on newspaper-related web sites. A lifetime New England skier, Herb travelled the world as a caddy on the PGA Tour for five years before launching his career as a meteorologist. After one year at WJAR-TV in Providence, R.I., he became one of the original on-camera meteorologists at The Weather Channel, and later was chief meteorologist at WNYT-TV in Albany, N.Y. While at WNYT, Herb pioneered a weekly on-snow ski report, which later became his full-time job as The Skiing Weatherman.