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The Potential Exists For “Significant” Snow Events In The Midwest and East For The Remainder Of The Winter.

In real estate, location is everything.  In skiing, TIMING is everything, and last weekend I lucked out during my three days in Stowe.  The first day, a foot of what turned out to be a 19 inch storm fell, and the skiing the following two days was wonderful.  Now, if you end up at Stowe on a weekend powder day and don’t get there before 9 a.m., you will have a traffic/parking problem…consider yourself warned.

That storm dumped on the East along a swath from western New York to the mountains of Maine, including nearby Quebec.  Once again, there wasn’t enough cold air to bring snow to the northern mid-Atlantic as the battle between modest Canadian cold and the mild air associated with a southeastern U.S. ridge continued.  That same clash of air masses will carry on through much of this month, with the upper Midwest and interior Northeast in line for frequent refreshing of surface snow.

In the West, the replacement of an Alaskan upper ridge with a trough will keep the hits coming to the mountains of B.C., WA, OR and the northern Rockies, but not for long.  Another system will spin southeastward from Alaska during the holiday weekend and it will reach the northern and central Rockies by early next week, but this shot of the jet stream on President’s Day shows a ridge poking northward into Alaska.  

That feature will allow storms (with less moisture) to continue moving through western Canada into the western U.S., but the ridge will nudge the storm track eastward, which will limit the snow in the U.S. coastal ranges.  The region of the West that could use fresh snow is the central and southern Sierra, but this jet stream change will make that a tough task for the next week, at least. 

Looking further down the road, it appears the pattern will become more changeable.  For the most part, jet stream features have been quite persistent this winter.  There have been pattern changes, but once they set up they have tended to linger longer than usual for winter, but that is quite common at the time of solar minimum.  The following chart shows you the 11 year sunspot cycle for the past 250 years and clearly shows that sunspots are scarce right now.      

Fighting the persistence associated with solar minimum is the tendency for the wavelengths between jet stream troughs and ridges to shorten during the latter stages of winter, due to the gradual shrinking of cold pools that support the troughs that lead to snow and colder weather.  So, even as a trough visits Alaska from time to time going forward, which will help shoot milder Pacific air into the pattern over the lower 48, the potential exists for significant snow events in the Midwest and East due to shorter wavelength troughs taking shape at times.  That includes those areas, generally south of I-80, where snow has been hard to come by this season.  North of I-90 in the east, the snows should keep on coming.  If you time it right, you should have a good number of powder days to choose from well into March.      

Here Are The Regional Details:      

Northwest U.S./western Canada:  Holiday weekend into early next week will be snowy, but as ridging pushes northward and toward the coast, the storm track will ease to the east.  Snows will back off for the first time in a while later next week.      

Sierra:  Offshore ridge will continue to make it difficult for storms to reach the Tahoe region.  A southern branch storm will deliver fresh snow to the southern Sierra and Southwest late next week.     

Northern Rockies:  Another Alaskan low will bring moderate to heavy snow late this weekend.  Only lighter snows will fall beyond that event for the following week. 

Central and southern Rockies:  Moderate to locally heavy snow late Sunday through Tuesday, with ridging leading to only spotty light snow later in the week.  Southern Rockies in line for snow late in the week, too. 

Midwest:  A couple of Clipper systems bring light to moderate snow to the north early next week and again late in the week.  Temps comfortable for February.             

Northeast/Quebec:  Clipper system brings light snow Sunday.  Stronger storm follows Tuesday, with snow favored north of I-90, mixed/rain to south.   Parade of storms continues for a while. 

 

2 Comments

  1. Avatar Scott Jimmerson says:

    Very brave and accurate, in my opinion, to bring the predictable 11 year solar cycle into your forecasts.

  2. Avatar herb stevens says:

    Thank you, Scott…The things that computer models don’t even contemplate are much more effective forecasting tools than the models themselves. The solar cycle is just one of those tools, IMO.

    Herb

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