Is the Northeast’s Sloppy Snow Season About to Turn Around?

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Thursday's snow in Vermont had Sugarbush locals floating in the clouds. Photo courtesy of John Atkinson/Sugarbush.Atkinson

After an unwanted January thaw, the snow gods are on track to finally bless New England

 

Last Sunday when Plymouth State University Meteorology Professor Jason Cordeira was in Boston, it was 74 degrees — an all-time January record. In town for the 100th Annual Meeting of the American Meteorological Society, Cordeira took his son outside for pizza in the North End, then went for an 11-mile run downtown.

That’s 74 degrees. In Boston. In January.

The unseasonable temps would have been idyllic for New England if the typical winter snow conditions weren’t so dire. What started off looking like a favorable season of early cold turned into a melting mess around the holidays, and then an unwelcome January thaw that has not helped.

“It’s been a rough winter so far with a couple weeks of decent conditions interspersed with unfortunate rain on snow, ice, and snow melting,” Cordeira told Men’s Journal on Friday. “The storm track has been pretty progressive, which from a meteorological perspective leads to fast-moving storms exiting out to sea without producing much big snows across interior Northeast.”

The Northeast forecast finally shows some love for New England. Photo courtesy of Wunderground.com

Cordeira is a downhill and cross-country skier. He also mentors Plymouth State students in making daily ski forecasts for OpenSnow.com.

Unless you’re messing around with a kicker and a six-pack on a warm April day, slush and bare patches are never welcome in the Northeast. But skiers and snowboarders here are about to lay into a hard turn for the better.

“I’m excited for a return to some great snow conditions for the upcoming week. And I bet a lot of resorts are also,” Cordeira added. “It’s a bit cold today to enjoy it, but the coming week should play out nicely.”

He admits that the forecast still isn’t optimal with daytime temps back into the 40s and chances of more rain on snow, but it’s still much better than the slop of late.

“At the very least, overnight temperatures look cold enough to support artificial snow making to help fend off daytime melt,” he explained,

But hard-core East Coasters aren’t really into token manmade flakes. They’re awaiting the big dumps that can turn New England’s high country into gleaming white glory.

“Our best winters, as far as snowfall, usually occur with big ridging, or blocking, over the North Atlantic, which slows storms down and allows cold air to take hold over the Northeast,” Cordeira adds. “Case in point: There has not been much lake-effect snow either over the Great Lakes Region.”

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Thursday’s snow in Vermont had Sugarbush locals floating in the clouds. Photo courtesy of John Atkinson/Sugarbush. Atkinson

Winter is far from over. The climatological peak for nor’easters is February. And March still has potential to be every bit as wintery as any other month. There’s hope now that a change in the pattern could rally a great season still for thousands in the Northeast’s cities and hills.

“They’re an optimistic bunch,” Cordeira concludes. “There is plenty of winter left and most resorts still have a solid, dense base. The snow yesterday and expected snow this weekend will bring a lot folks to the resorts.

“It’s perfect timing.”

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