Late Season Snow Opens Nordic Opportunities.

As the coronavirus situation has continued to unfold and expand, the curtain has all but come down on the alpine season across North America. Nevertheless, lovers of the great outdoors continue to find ways to ingest their fair share of fresh air by a variety of different means, including cross country skiing aficionados. At last count, 17 Nordic centers around the country remain open.  For those of you who will continue to rack up the kilometers as we move through early spring, here’s this week’s weather outlook.

This season now has all the earmarks of ending up with bookends in terms of jet stream patterns. You may recall that November got us off to a quick start as the jet stream aligned itself in a fashion favorable for the delivery of early season cold to the lower 48 states. Here in the East, as the calendar turned from October to November, the folks at Killington were very nervous about the prospect for the Women’s World Cup event scheduled for late that month. However, when the Women’s White Circus showed up three weeks later, the reversal of weather fortunes made for another hugely successful weekend of racing.

And then came the rest of the winter. As I discussed a couple of weeks ago, the Midwest and East got locked into a highly unfavorable jet steam setup that, unfortunately, made it very difficult for cold air masses to stick around for a while. Well, that appears to be about to change, which should help to extend the Nordic season.

In a nutshell, an upper level trough is going to set up shop over the eastern half of North America later next week. At the same time, a blocking ridge will be in place over Greenland. It was the LACK of a blocking ridge in that position that allowed cold air masses to slide right off the continent when they did manage to make a push into the Midwest and East. Cold air is not as abundant as it was one or two months ago, but there is enough available to flow into a trough and lead to late season snow. That scenario is on the table around April 3-5 in the Northeast. Here is a look at the expected pattern on the morning of the April 3:

A deep trough centered over eastern New York will provide the focus for the cold air. The trough may want to progress eastward into the north Atlantic, but the ridge that extends from Labrador to Greenland will resist and force the trough to only slowly move toward the ocean. It is important to also know that near the center of circulation of troughs, the air is rising and cooling to a greater extent than at points further away from the center. This further suggests that eastern New York and northern New England could very well pick up a substantial late season snowfall next weekend. That’s great news for Nordic touring centers from the Adirondacks to the mountains of Maine. As long as the ridge remains over Greenland, the colder air will stick around, just like in November.

Here Are The Regional Details.

Northwest U.S./western Canada: A season of abundant snowfall shows no signs of quitting. The hits will keep on coming in this part of the world for the next couple of weeks at least.

Sierra: While the amounts won’t be as prodigious as further north, the proximity of a trough not far offshore should produce several meaningful snowfalls in the next two weeks.

Northern Rockies: The storms that continue to bury the coastal ranges will move inland and keep this part of the U.S. and adjacent Canada in the crosshairs for solid snowfalls for the foreseeable future.

Central and southern Rockies: In the absence of an El Nino, it is tough to grind much snow out of the southern branch of the jet stream late in the season. Northern stream systems will graze these areas from time to time and provide several lighter snowfalls.

Midwest: Other than across the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, snowfall is a long shot the rest of the way in the middle of the country.

Northeast/Quebec: Next weekend looks like the best opportunity for late snow. Based on what has happened the past few weeks, northern Maine and adjacent Quebec won’t see bare ground for many weeks to come.

Thanks for reading. Enjoy your sliding and your summer.

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