Powderfreak’s Forecast for New Years

From Scott Braaten aka Powderfreak: The snow worked out a little better than planned at the lower elevations today…I’m surprised there were so many 3″ or greater amounts in generally valley locations. Most resorts should be reporting a general 3-7″ tomorrow morning. That’s pretty good news.

1) Friday night and Saturday’s event looks like a moderate snowfall with amounts of 4-7″ in the Green Mtns from SB/MRG northward and eastward (1-4″ Adirondacks and BTV). An isolated higher amount is still possible just north of the sleet mixing line, which I still think will be in the vicinity of Glens Falls-Rutland-Lebanon. I think I posted earlier this week that MRG/SB region looks like the bullseye and I’m sticking with that…but man is this a tough call with sleet/freezing rain not far away. Just an FYI, the NWS has included sleet all the way to northern Vermont. This very well may be correct but I just don’t see the warm air penetrating that far north.

All these mixed precipitation events are starting to make me pull my hair out. South of the mixing line I laid out above, anywhere from 1-5″ can be expected with a topping of sleet or ice. For those outside of Vermont, that 4-7″ band will stretch across the northern half of NH and ME including areas like Cannon, Wildcat, and Sugarloaf.

2) Sunday Night and Monday’s system is still a big question mark. Does the surface low get captured enough to hug the coast to some degree? European says yes with a moderate snow event…GFS is the exact opposite and is almost partly cloudy as the low moves eastward off the mid-Atlantic coast. The NAM is with the GFS. I can’t deny the American models and will forecast some light accumulating snow on Monday as the upper level trough swings through…but the possibility for something more is there.

3) The good news is that we’ve got some snowfall over the next 4 days and then an arctic surge with sub-zero nights and teens during the day. There are some indications of persistent upslope snowfall as this arctic air pours in on Tuesday and Wednesday. This could add several inches of fluffy snow across all upslope favored areas. Dry and cold on Thurs/Fri.

Bad news is that we are going to warm up big time starting Saturday January 5th. Big time and for at least a week. The models continue to show ugly, ugly heights and 850mb temperatures of up to +10C (50F!), possibly into northern New England. 50F at summit level is trouble and would mean a 60F+ day at BTV is not out of the question later in the week towards the 12th. We will average well above average from the 5th through the 12th and if there is a silver lining in this, its that its a mild/dry pattern not a mild/wet pattern.

This is our January thaw and it might feel more like late March or early April during the later part of that week. One other saving grace is very cold air in far northern Canada which could keep low level cool air in the north country under an inversion as strong 850mb SW winds warm the upper elevations.

I don’t want to sound like doomsday but prepare for a more serious thaw…maybe even enjoy a few warm, sunny days like they are spring days. At least we’ve got a snowpack that isn’t isothermal so we’ll keep something around. The cold still looks to return later in January…though I’ve got a feeling that’ll be delayed. But it will come back. Enjoy whatever happens because a day in the mountains is still twice as good as a day anywhere else. -Scott

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