Happy New Year To All Of My Fellow Senior Sliders!

In the two weeks since my last post, the western slopes of the U.S. and Canada have been the unquestioned winners in terms of fresh snow. Just prior to Christmas, the trail counts from British Columbia south to the Sangre de Cristos of New Mexico were on the lean side, but a persistent parade of moist troughs started marching ashore from the Pacific. Those systems produced an overall snowy pattern that jacked up those trail counts dramatically. There are a few resorts here and there that got slighted by Mother Nature, but by and large, it is hard to make a bad choice out west.

While troughs produced the goods on one side of the country, flat ridging at the jet stream level have made fresh snow rather scarce in the Midwest and East. Fresh shots of cold air have been more of a glancing blow, but resorts in the northern Great Lakes eastward through the mountains of northern New York and New England have maintained their trail counts for the most part through the holiday period.

So, where are we headed from here? Well, a pattern that can best be described as changeable will unfold during the first half of January. As such, I think that there will be opportunities for resorts all across the country to enjoy some fresh snow. I still believe that we will eventually see a western ridge/eastern trough couplet become more favored, but there are too many conflicting signals coming from the Pacific for the jet stream to settle into that set up just yet.

The factor that seems to have the most impact on our weather right now is the MJO, or Madden Julian Oscillation. The MJO is all about convection that forms in the Indian Ocean and tracks eastward into the southwest Pacific. Madden and Julian divided the track into eight sectors and noticed that there were significant correlations with weather over North America, with a lag of 7-10 days, depending on where the thunderstorms were clustered.   Right now, the convection is fired up north/northwest of Australia, as you can see in this infrared satellite picture.

If you follow the green line in the chart below—each black dot is one day—you will see the MJO making a move into octants 4 and 5 in about a week. [Editor Note: octants 4 and 5 represent continental North and South America.]

Using the temperature correlation maps below, you can clearly see that octants 4 and 5 are warm over much of the country, and I believe a warmup will occur mid-month before the pattern turns colder again.

Before any warmth reaches the East, though, Midwest and Eastern resorts—north of the Mason Dixon line—will pick up fresh snow at least a couple of times. The first event will be this weekend as a storm cuts southeastward to the mid-Atlantic coast before turning up toward New England, with an Alberta Clipper sliding through the East a couple of days later. Big winners in the snow derby the next week or so in the West will be the Cascades, northern Rockies, and the resorts of B.C.

Here are the regional details.

Northwest U.S./Western Canada: Healthy storm nails B.C. this weekend, with another system arriving later next week.

Cascades and Sierra:  Light to moderate snow in the Cascades this weekend. Northern system late next week looks productive in WA/OR, but the Sierra will only receive lighter amounts.

Rockies: Late this weekend/early next week the Rockies will pick up light to moderate snow (north) and generally light amounts south of I-70. The Tetons and Wasatch are in line for moderate to heavy snow late next week.

Midwest: Early week Clipper system will deliver light to locally moderate snow, with the best snowmaking temps in a while following. That cold air will also support lake effect snow in northern parts of the lower peninsula of MI.

Northeast/QB: A system this weekend will turn into a moderate to locally heavy snow producer from WV northeast into New England and southern QB. A Clipper system will follow in the middle of next week with the potential for additional light to moderate snow.



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