Sunday, February 7, 2016

Eastern New England, Again, Most Likely To Get Snow This Week

Barely a dusting of snow on the ground in my St. Albans
Vermont yard this morning. Normally, you'd see
 a foot or more on the ground this time of year. 
A weak cold front deposited the thinnest dusting of snow on my yard in St. Albans, Vermont this morning. It has since stopped snowing and that dusting is already melting away.

That's a sharp contrast to eastern New England, where blizzard warnings are up for Monday for Cape Cod and the islands for up to a foot or even 18 inches of snow propelled by winds of up to 65 mph.

A winter storm warning is in effect for much of the rest of southeastern New England, and winter weather advisories extend as far west as all of New Hampshire. 

More on that storm in a minute.

Vermont will largely miss out again. t's the time of year when the winter snow depth should be near its peak. A foot deep snow cover is routine about now.

But the winter of 2015-16 is turning into a big snow drought year here in Vermont and the rest of northwestern New England.

The stars are aligned against those Vermonters who like snow. True, it's been a warm winter in much of the nation, but most places that usually get snow have received substantial storms and blizzards.

Yeah, these snowfalls largely melted fairly quickly, but at least there were some good dumps to temporarily keep the winter enthusiasts happy.

Not in Vermont. So far, Burlington has received just 20.4 inches of snow this winter, less than half as much as the 48 inches we would normally have gotten by now.

Right now there's only 21 inches of snow covering the ground atop Mount Mansfield, Vermont. Last  year on this date, the snow cover was 76 inches.

It's eastern and coastal New England, not the interior mountains that have been getting the snow lately. Up to a foot of heavy wet snow buried southeastern New England Friday as a strong nor'eastern blew by off the coast.  
Water vapor imagery shows intense nor'easter really
winding up Sunday. It'll clobber eastern New England big
time, but largely miss Vermont. Again. 

As I've noted, a big storm is due in eastern New England Monday. It's being caused by a real powerhouse of a nor'easter that's going to bluster past New England.

The storm's center will stay off the coast, which will make this big, big storm too far away to have much of an effect on places like Vermont and New York's Adirondacks.

There's a chance another nor'easter could clip far eastern New England Wednesday.

For inland areas, only light snows are expected through the week. Vermont's valleys could pick up a one to four inches of snow between Monday night and Wednesday, c  with maybe six inches in some of the mountains.


A similar pattern hit last year, at least in terms of snow. It was an extremely cold late winter in all of New England in 2015, as opposed to his year's mildness.  But western New England missed out on the biggest snows last year, too.

Snowfall in western New England, including Vermont was pretty close to normal last winter, while as you might remember eastern New England got epic snows that completely shattered previous records for deep accumulations.

Despite this year's lack of snow here in Vermont, the trend has been for more snow in the past two or three decades of winters than before that.. Five of Burlington's top 10 snowiest winters have occured since 1992. Records there go back to the 1880s.

Nine of Burlington's 20 biggest snowstorms on record have occured since 2001.

It doesn't seem like it has generally been snowier in Vermont,  because winters have also been generally warmer in the past 20 or 30 years than they had been previously. So more of the snow that falls melts.

All this makes sense. Warmer air holds more moisture, so if the climate is warmer, storms can produce more snow if the temperature is still below freezing.

This year has been an exception to the snowier pattern in Vermont, that's for sure. It's just that the weather pattern this winter has not been one that puts Vermont in the path of snowstorms. They go by too far to the south and east, and the sky turns sunny. Or they go by too far to the west, which means warm air invades and we get rain.

There's a slight chance Vermont could experience our least snowy winter on record this year, but I doubt it. There's still plenty of time for it to snow in Vermont between now and April. Or May.

This next statement is also completely nonscientific, but for what it's worth, I've noticed that in strong El Nino years, like this one, the bulk of the winter snow in Vermont falls in March and April.

If that comes to pass for people looking forward to spring, that's bad news. But for the people whose skies and snowboards and snowshoes are gathering dust in the house, that's one glimmer of hope for you.

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