If you’ve been on the slopes over the past two weeks, you’re probably thinking, “does it get any better?” Well, those are at least my thoughts after some incredible bluebird powder days. But it can, and it will, with a large snow event on the horizon for Thursday. We’ve been watching this one for over a week now, and with the starting point being less than 48 hours out, it’s time to get excited.
So before reading on through the guts and glory of this latest weather-maker, you may want to check your PTO/sick time, make some travel plans, and get ready for potentially one of the largest snowfall dumps of the season. And if you’re not into the guts and glory, just scroll to the bottom for the snowfall amounts.
For a variety of reasons, we haven’t had the blockbuster, “big kahuna”, snowstorm this year, or even last winter for that fact. However, these quick-hitter, double-barrel low pressure systems have done well for Sunday River, and a double digit snowfall is looking more and more likely. In the computer model image above, it’s clear to see the “double-barrel” low setup, with one low pressure back toward Upstate NY, and the coastal low off of Cape Cod. Not having the singular, monster coastal low pressure system allows some warm air to move in, and creating quite the battleground of a rain/snow for portions of New England.
The struggle this season has been to get the cold air and keep it when a storm comes. If you’re along the Maine coast or within 20 miles of it, Southern NH, or most of MA, you know what I mean, as you’ve experienced more 35 degree rain events this winter than you’d like to in a lifetime. Arctic air comes in for 24-36 hours, and retreats as quickly as it came. However, in these scenarios, the mountains east of Mount Washington are in the (white) gold mine from cold air damming.
High pressure in Canada provides a north or northeasterly wind flow, allowing cold, Canadian air to drain into Maine, and usually some of New Hampshire, Vermont and New York to save us from rain events. This cold air is heavy and dense – banks up against the topography, trapping the cold air in, hence the name cold air damming. The stronger the high, the deeper the cold sinks into New England, and in some cases can actually stretch down the Appalachian spine to the Carolinas.
Probably too much science and not enough snow totals is what you’re thinking. One thing to keep in mind about this upcoming snowfall is that it’s likely not going to be light and fluffy. Temperatures will stay in the upper 20’s to the low 30’s throughout the entire event. Beginning just before sunrise on Thursday, the heaviest arrives late morning into early afternoon, and tapers off around last chair Thursday afternoon. It’ll be a full-on snow globe skiing & riding day.
The NAM model is notorious for over-performing on snowfall amounts, but I like the way it keeps the cold into interior Maine (even closer to the coast) than some of the other computer models, so I’ve used it for the generic view of expected snowfall with this system. This is just model output, not the forecast! (keep scrolling if you’re looking for that).
My first call snowfall amounts for Sunday River are 10-14″, stoke-factor included (not my usual, conservative self with snowfall amounts). You may notice a difference in snowfall composition from top to bottom, as the cooler summits will allow for a slightly drier snowfall. Same goes for Jordan & Aurora – their NE/NNE orientation may allow for temperatures to stay a couple degrees cooler than the other peaks, which means a little less moisture in each snowflake (and potentially another inch or two to the accumulation). My favorite trail – Rogue Angel – should be in prime shape – especially toward the late afternoon when the wind is less gusty.
It may not be the blockbuster storm, but anytime you have a snowfall map that looks like Pepto, it’s one to get excited for. Hope to see you out on the slopes Friday!
Meteorologist Mallory Brooke
Nor’easter Weather Consulting, LLC