So before we dive in and I stick my neck out there, lets get a few things out of the way. First my goal is to give you an overall idea of what is in store, and when I think such and such a pattern will exist. I believe in using a very broad brush overall, but highlighting some issues I feel more confident about. Secondly, the NE is a pretty large area and a few miles north, south, east, west can make a huge difference. So understand that at least at some locations in the NE, this outlook will be trashed very soon. Lastly, it will snow infinity inches at Magic.
Got all that? Ok, lets move on.
Overall it is pretty widely accepted that we are entering a La Nina pattern. However there is substantial discussion over exactly what type of Nina we are going to get. Some people believe this will become a strong Nina, some believe weak to moderate. Some believe the SST’s will be based to the west, some believe they will be based to the east. Yes, this all matters…in fact it matters a great deal. However, I’m nowhere near well versed enough to opine as to what I think the ENSO state will do. That’s some PHD level stuff right there. Thankfully, I don’t really need to. I can use a blend of possible analog years we could be headed into and extract some common patterns and themes from these years.
Theme 1: Active but Messy
I believe that the Northeast …pause: lets define that term. When I speak of the north east I mean an area bounded by the southern edge of the Catskills, Berkshires, White Mountains, central Maine and the Canadian border (Still confused…well look here)…I believe that the Northeast will be active. However, I think the mean storm track will lie to the NW of where it was last year. Last year the storm track was suppressed to the SE and the coastal towns got POUNDED with snow. Close to 100 inches in Philly is just dumb. This year, a recurring ridge in the SE and a deep trough/cold pool in the upper plains should pull the storm track to the NW. I envision a track for developing merged stream systems (i.e. big storms) that lies within the coast and runs through Philly, NYC suburbs and into central New England. This will bring more WX to the mountains. However, the SE ridge will also bring more warm air.
Accordingly I believe many of these systems will be messy. Ice will be a problem with p-type issues common. Elevation will play a large role in snowfall and snow quality. If you can remember back to the 07-08 and 08-09 seasons you will be familiar with many of these types of storms. Good can be had from them. Sometimes stoopid good.
Associated with this storm track is the dreaded “lake cutter.” I really don’t need to go into detail about what this means for skiers but I will because I like pain. Generally these are storms that track into the great lakes and pound places like Cleveland and Chicago with heavy snow and leave the NE under warm, wet and grey skies. Then the pull to the east and drag bone chilling air masses into the region in their wake, freezing the surfaces into bulletproof granite and dropping 1 inch of windblown dust. We’ll talk about these more this year than last year. Sux but comes with the territory and we’ll prob sneak out from the worst because the storm track will be slightly to the east of the “prime cutter that screws the NE” track.
Lastly, in this active pattern I think “Miller B” storms will be more common. Briefly this is a stormed type named by the Miller Brewing company that originates near Milwaukee and sweeps through the Midwest, down into the northeast and then out to sea. It was named because it shifted the water temps in the lake where the brewers got their water and they thus ad to adjust their batch recipe. There is “A” and “B” storms- thus two batch recipes – “A” and “B”**.
Anyway, with these storms the primary low often transfers energy to a developing coastal low. This process, in this pattern, often takes place when the primary low is over Erie and Ontario, after it cut away from the coast, and the secondary is over the New York Bight. If we get an early transfer we get boo-yah snow. If we get a late transfer we get dry-slotted and not much precip.
Theme 2: Active Early Season.
In many of the comparable years I looked at, there were above average snowfalls in the late fall and early winter. Let’s bound this period by saying Halloween to New Years Eve. I believe that between now and New Years there will be three periods: cold period (in now), a warm period (say early November) and another cold period (late November to December). This could blow up in my face so give me credit for at least saying it, but I like the chances for an October snowfall that’s allows more than just Greg to schuss on grass. I think before the month is out some of this active southern stream moisture will hook up with a northern stream cold front. (When this doesn’t happen I don’t want to hear it. It takes balls to even say this..).
Beyond that, I feel that Thanksgiving to New Years will be a good time for the Northeast skiers. Ample northern stream energy and cold with still active moisture tap should allow for some really nice December days. Again looking at 07-08 and 08-09 (not perfect analogs) we see some really good November to December conditions. I think we replicate this to some extent this year.
Theme 3: Lake Effect
Because of the overall pattern I think the quite often (more than normal) the wind direction off the Great Lakes will be from 200 to 270 degrees. This – if you can’t visualize- means the winds will blow from the lakes towards the Northeast and East. This is a change from a NW direction. It bodes VERY well for the central and southern ADK, along with places along the central and Southern Green mountain spine. I believe one feature of this year will be above average lake effect snows in these regions.
Theme 4: Mid Winter blah
I’ll be blunt- I don’t love what I think Jan. will bring. I suspect some real warmth will invade the region and I don’t think we get back into the love until February. Sorry.
Theme 5: Upslope events
Lastly, I see many of these messy or wide right storms backing into the Canada, becoming vertically stacked, stable and steady. This is good news for us. This is a great pattern for periods of prolonged orographic snowfall. I think the best times for this will be December, and late January to the end of February.
Theme 6: Go West.
It’s not a secret that the Pacific NW’s biggest snow years occurred in La Nina years. However, I think the excitement felt there could be equally applied to the Wasatch. While UT has had some leaner la nina years, the best analog years indicate that come Jan. the Wasatch snows could be deep, dry and active. While this isn’t groundbreaking I felt it was worth pointing out.
Ok….so those are my thoughts. Got any questions feel free to ask away in the comments section! I’m happy to discuss my thoughts in greater detail.
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