Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Long Range Outlook

Will it ever get cold?????

I want to start off with the 50 mb stratospheric temperature anomalies. Watch the loop below as the first "decent" stratospheric warming event of the season is taking place. This is in relation to pressure patterns over the arctic which most of us know as the Arctic Oscillation. What does this all even mean? Warming north of 50 degrees in the stratosphere is a clearly visible way to identify a negative Arctic Oscillation (AO) and that translates into cold and snow, and we will test that theory. I've actually done some extensive research on the AO which I presented at the National Weather Association in Birmingham Alabama back in October and this is just another typical event. The loop below will self update everyday so keep coming back to the blog to check on it's progress.
The above event should translate in an all out arctic air mass invasion for the eastern half of North America and I'm talking days where the high temperature struggles to break 15 degrees over the NW corner and Eastern areas will have a hard time breaking 20, even into NYC. Now let's just see if the models agree with me.

Very latest GFS:

The map above is for January 3rd and the cold outbreak should last at least several days, and that means several days of continuous snowmaking which means resorts in the region will begin to open terrain daily as ideal snowmaking conditions will persist for a minimum of 100 straight hours. So yes, the AO goes negative and we get our cold. This will be the coldest air of the season and very well could be the coldest of the year with lows into the single digits and negatives.

When will we finally get some snow? In the winter that is.

So it looks like the cold will finally arrive, but what about snow? With only 0.5" inches of snow in December for NW Jersey (more toward High Point), this will end as one of the least snowiest Decembers ever. NW Jersey is double the snowfall we had last year and NE Jersey is about quadruple less than last year at this time due to that post Christmas storm. So far eastern sections are around average in terms of seasonal snowfall for the year but western areas are about double the average. So far we really are not doing that bad thanks to our pre Halloween Nor' Easter.

These past few months have exhibited a constant +NAO, +AO, and a relatively neutral PNA. Basically that means the eastern half of the country as a whole will have mild and little to no snow. But I believe a change is in order and forecast models agree.

The AO will crash which is a good sign for cold. The PNA is heading more neutral and exactly what we want to see, but I have little hope for the NAO. Without blocking storms will forced off the Southeast coast or ride up west of the region putting us into the warm side of the system. With little blocking that means coastal storms will probably not be our primary source of snowfall over the next few weeks, instead we need to put our hope into Alberta Clipper systems.

Usually fast movers and lacking moisture these systems usually bring anywhere from a dusting to around six inches, but usually no more. With clippers snow is the primary type of precip and sometimes a little rain on the southern end, so we won't have to worry about it getting to warm for snow. In fact the models show several chances of snowfall in the coming week from these types of storms. I'm not even going to post model maps of these system because they look like small increments of snow. Something like an inch here, half an inch, and maybe up to two inches in spots. Instead I'll give you the link to my model page. Just check out the NAM and GFS SLP maps and pray for a negative NAO, because until then the prospects for a major snowstorm looks bleak at best.

That's it for now. I haven't been blogging a lot this season because I've had nothing to blog about! There were times last year where I would post up to three times a day! But this season it's only been about once a week. Keep your head up and keep reminding yourself, winter only started a few days ago...

Friday, December 16, 2011

Simply An Update

Well now that the past storm is long forgotten it's time to move on. I forecasted the snow totals way too high needless to say. Highest amounts where High Point with 2.5", Budd Lake with 1.0", and 0.5" from multiple locations. I was thinking about 3"-6" for the immediate area but the surface layer held too warm for too long and gave any accumulating snow a difficult time. Places higher in the Poconos received up to 6" and the Catskills 8". In the end elevation was key with that storm, something Jersey really doesn't have much off...

Now let's move on to what we are all waiting for...


To put this years "winter" season in perspective for everyone let's compare it to last year. It was colder and much snowier right? That's what everyone keeps telling me but as of this date last year we received only 0.75" inches of snow fall. So far this year we are at 10"-18" inches. Last year cold air came earlier and Mountain Creek opened by the second week of December, but this year it will open the third week. That's just one week! So the ski resorts are delayed slightly, I've seen worse.

First off there is a chance for some snow flurries this weekend as a weak clipper system moves to our south. Nothing to get excited for but it's snow. After that another storm rides up the Appalachians by the middle of the week and brings us just plain old rain and temperatures back into the 50's for highs.

Just a few days later, on Christmas eve, the models suggest another storm:

If there are any storms in the future capable of a major dump of snow it will would be this storm. Forecasted a week from today it has the classic high pressure to the north and winds from the north northeast, the tropical moisture, and plenty of cold to tap into. If a storm does form in this type of pattern it will be a complete bomb. And by that I mean rapid pressure drop and heavy snows. For now we need to watch this closely. If all these ingredients can come together just right we have a good shot of a White Christmas.


Mountain Creek was able to put out some serious snow with the past cold air outbreak but it just was not enough to open. This weekend forecasts are calling for highs in the upper 30's and low in the mid 20's. Just yesterday they forecasted to be in the 40's and low's in the upper 20's. The reason? The online forecasts are adjusted to climatology and personally that just doesn't work. Saturday for example should only get to 32 for a high and 21 for a low. Sunday's high will only be 29 and the low near 17. This means a solid 48 hour snow making period and means they should have enough snow to open by Friday, and if we are lucky maybe some natural snowfall?

This weekend:

Check back for more updates. May the weather be with you!

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Here Comes More Snow!

This storm has given me a really big head ache. North West Jersey is right on the boarder line of getting a good solid cover of snow or getting shafted. This was one of the hardest forecasts I ever worked on but I think I have it all figured out. Check out the NAM for 18 hrs out, which is sometime tonight after the evening commute.

Just looking at the model is impossible to tell the precipitation type. Up until this point its rain but let's look at the sounding for the same hour.

Im actually surprised but it shows a snow sounding with no questions asked. It is a fast moving system and hour 24 on the models the back has already pulled out of the area. This leave us with about a 6 hour window of snowfall tonight.

(Hour 24)

Now let's look at the QPF (total liquid precip) that falls as snow.
It has most of north Jersey in the 0.75" - 1.25" range. Now take in consideration a warm ground, a wet surface from rain, and only marginal air temps. The liquid to snow ratios are going to be pretty low meaning a wet heavy snowfall. Elevation will help in this storm but more importantly is your location west. After hours of being a computer nerd this is what my snow map looks like.

Of course a slight shift in the current path of the storm could either give us more in the way of snowfall or leave us with very little. But it does looks as if western areas get the most either way.
***** SNOWMAKING UPDATE*******************

I want to talk a little about the snow making potential at local ski resorts. It looks like the guns will be on this weekend but unfortunately only at night and morning and only a total of around 18 hours of a wet bulb of 27 or less. Not enough by any means for the resorts to open. After this cold shot its back to above average and in my personal opinion the local resorts won't open until Christmas day or so.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Is Winter Back?

The models are hinting at a potential snowstorm come Thursday. Let's give it till tomorrow and see if the models come into alignment.