The Skiing Weatherman Conditions Report: March 5-March 9

Wednesday, March 05, 2014


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Herb Stevens: GoLocalProv's Skiing

March is here...Winter still rules...

If anyone tries to tell you that “there is no such thing as TOO MUCH of a good thing”, you can point to the missed opportunity of a major snowfall in the Northeast that is playing out as this week gets underway. You see, the front that moved through the region late this past weekend delivered cold air of arctic origin, and that is normally a good thing for skiers and riders in the Northeast, especially when you get into March when the days are longer and the sun angle higher...every cold day preserves the snow one day longer before the inevitable onset of spring and its’ sloppier surface conditions. This time, however, the front went too far...all the way to the mid-Atlantic region, where it served as a focal point for low pressure to feed off as it moved out of the Tennessee Valley toward the Atlantic seaboard. The cold air banked over New York and New England is getting reinforced by the clockwise circulation around high pressure over western Ontario, and that is helping to suppress the storm track too far to the south to do us any good...this time.

Midweek Forecast

While we are missing out on this shot at new snow, or “New England Clam Powder”, as it was called on a recent hilarious SNL skit, I am confident we will have numerous other chances for a late season powder day as this month unfolds. The same western ridge/eastern trough setup at the jet stream level that has dominated for much of this winter is still in place, and based on analogs that I have identified along with longer range model forecast support, we should remain colder than normal much of the time for the foreseeable future. In fact, the first half of this week will be cold enough to force you to put on the same number of layers before you ski or ride that you would in the heart of winter, despite the sunshine the high pressure center will bring us as it slowly meanders eastward toward the Maritimes over the next several days. If you have your heart set on first tracks in the mountains this week, be prepared for low temperatures that start with “-“and have two digits...yeah, it is going to be mid- January cold. But the combination of any sunshine and lighter winds as we move through the week will make it more than bearable...just don’t let it take you by surprise.

This Weekend and Long Term

Now, later this week, the southern branch of the jet stream will send another storm rolling along from west to east, and the low will pick up a good supply of moisture from the Gulf of Mexico as it does. By Thursday or so, there should be a low center down over the southeastern U.S. That is a promising location for a late season storm, but in order for that system to deliver the goods way up here in the Northeast, we will have to see the northern and southern branches of the jet stream come together, or “phase”...that will help make the storm turn the corner enough to come up the coast to the waters off New England. As I write this on Monday morning, I have my doubts as to whether it will be able to make a sufficient turn, but it is not anything that I am ready to totally dismiss. If that system fails to deliver the goods, there will be another coming along 3 to 4 days later, as the pattern looks ripe for storms for at least another couple of weeks. Here’s a jet stream forecast from the Canadian weather service for a week from now that shows the setup that I am talking about...

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Jet stream forecast from the Canadian weather service

You can see the broad, cold circulation around the upper level trough centered northeast of Hudson’s Bay...that is in a good position to pump cold air southward across the Great Lakes, into the Northeast and into the path of any storm that might want to run up the coast. In addition, small scale disturbances embedded in the flow around that low will add to the power of any storm that combines the two branches of the jet. The southern branch is also easy to see on this originates off the West coast and then traverses the country. On this map, there is a significant disturbance (the big kink in the flow over Oklahoma and Texas) in the southern branch, one that will, at a minimum, drive a low pressure across the deep South. If a similar short wave trough (and it doesn’t have to be as big as the southern branch feature) comes along in the northern branch, it can effectively “capture” the southern energy and wrap it into a significant East coast storm. We shall see, but I would be very surprised if the Northeast doesn’t get nailed with at least one significant snowstorm before St. Patrick’s Day, and if a couple of them came up the coast and tagged us, I wouldn’t be shocked at all. All we need is the northern and southern branches of the jet to dance together and phase. The dancers are certainly out there on the floor...we’ll just have to wait and see if they want to be partners.

Longer term, the prospects for a chilly March that belongs more to winter than to spring are excellent, so make plans to visit your favorite resort one or two more times. If you are lucky, you’ll catch a late season powder day...or two.

Upcoming Events

March is the start of “special event season” on the are a few that you might want to check out...

Wachusett Mt., MA-Massachusetts Special Olympics 3/8, 3/9 Sugarloaf, ME-Maine Outdoor Film Festival 3/8

Cranmore, NH-Hannes Schneider Meister Cup Race 3/7, 3/8 King Pine, NH-14th Annual Marky B Boardfest 3/9

Cannon Mt.,-NH-Slopestyle Competition 3/9

Loon Mt., NH-New England Disabled Sports Winter Challenge 3/8 Waterville Valley, NH-New England Masters Finals 3/7, 3/8 Ragged Mt., NH-Skier Cross/Boarder Cross 3/8, 3/9


Related Slideshow: Winter Activities

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