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The Pattern Persists.

In the past two weeks I have enjoyed many days on the snow, and a couple of them turned out feeling like reunions with old girlfriends. First came an afternoon at West Mountain in Glens Falls, NY, where new owners and $6 million in investments have turned a sleepy hill into a dynamic mountain that embraces racing for all ages. Got my skis tuned there, and the result was phenomenal!

Then I caught Wildcat, NH on a packed powder bluebird day. The long winding cruisers loaded with natural mini-features brought back memories of cutting high school in Rhode Island for twofer days on Wednesdays. The views of Mt. Washington across the street are beyond stunning. Wildcat summit view is the best in the East, IMO.

So, where are we going with the weather the next couple of weeks? The pattern has been rather persistent for weeks on end now, with abundant snow piling up over much of the West, the exception is the central and southern Sierra, where storms of significance have been rare this winter. In the Midwest and East, “persistent” has had a different meaning with mild and cold air masses taking turns marching through every four to six days. Storm tracks have favored a “cutter” type, where the primary low center moves through the eastern Great Lakes toward the St. Lawrence River Valley. A coastal secondary storm has formed with many of the cutters, but usually quite late—south of Long Island or Cape Cod—which has helped boost snowfall totals in New Hampshire and Maine as the low center heads for the Maritimes. However, at resorts further west, in VT, NY, and PA, the cutter has been more influential and most have produced a “variety pack” in terms of precip types.

There are a number of indices that help me put together longer range forecasts, such as the SOI (Southern Oscillation Index), MJO (Madden Julian Oscillation), AO (Arctic Oscillation) and NAO (North Atlantic Oscillation). For the most part, these indices have sent mixed signals in what has turned out to be a tough winter for forecasting over the eastern half of the country. The West has been much easier: ”Snow and more snow”.

One index that has performed admirably has been the EPO (Eastern Pacific Oscillation). When it is positive, we tend to see a trough over Alaska, which helps drive moisture into the NW, which accounts for the bountiful snow, but that Pacific air is mild when it reaches the lower elevations further east. When the EPO is negative, an upper ridge pokes northward to Alaska and helps tap colder air from the Arctic regions. This forecast of the EPO telegraphs the changeable nature of the temps going forward.

Following the green line, the neutral look to start with accounts for the chill of this weekend, with the rise next week foretelling a milder spell, followed by a drop and colder weather thereafter, a sequence that mimics what we have experienced for quite a while.

The decade of the 10’s was the most active on record in terms of sizable coastal snowstorms in the East, but the first winter of the new decade has pitched a shutout to this point. That said, there are signs that the forces might conspire to bring the Northeast a late season dump during the colder dip in the EPO. Here is a look at the European forecast for the 7th of March. A man can dream can’t he?

Here Are The Regional Details

Northwest U.S./western Canada: Onshore flow from the Pacific will keep the snow coming, broken periodically by a short wavelength ridge passing through. Many powder days coming through mid-March.

Sierra: Some much needed snow is coming to this region early in the week of the 2nd. Another shot comes along about a week later.

Northern Rockies: I don’t see a whopper on the horizon, but a moderate snowfall will come along every few days in the next two weeks

Central and southern Rockies: Light to moderate snow event 3rd-5th followed by upper level ridging and bluebird skies late next week.

Midwest: Lake effect snow early in snowbelt areas. Clipper systems bring additional snow during EPO dip.

Northeast/Quebec: Back and forth temperature ride continues into mid-March. Snowfall highly storm track/elevation dependent. Some signs of coastal storm around March 6-7 starting to show up.

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