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WEEK IN REVIEW–
Needed snowfall fell in key ski resorts of B.C. and AlbertaCanada with Fernie, Panorama, Whistler, Lake Louise andBanff seeing as much as 10-13 inches of snow. TLH Heliskingin B.C. saw close to 20 inches this past week as improved snowconditions for backcountry skiing arrived as we suggested.
Some of the lower elevations of B.C. have seen some warmerweather and wet snow and rain below 5,000-6,000 feet. Theinfamous “Pineapple Express” did interfere in some regions inB.C. bringing unwanted rain to the low and mid elevations, but freezing levels are beginning to fall.
In Colorado, stellar ski conditions continue at Winter Park whereclose to two feet has fallen over the past two weeks. Much of Colorado is still seeing below normal snowfall with fair-good conditions. Vail, Snowmass, Buttermilk and Aspen received about 4-6 inches last week. With El NIno weakening, southern Colorado, normallythe benefactor of snow during El Nino, has not seen meaningfulsnow in two weeks. This drying trend has also been commonin much of Utah and in parts of the Sierras and southern Cascades.Heavenly saw only 2 inches of snow over the last week and much ofCalifornia has seen below normal snowfall as well. Ski Conditionshave, or are becoming marginal in these areas.
Skiing is outstanding in parts of Montana and much of Wyoming.Grand Targhee now has a 115 inch base and received another 17 inchesover the past week.
The enclosed 4 maps illustrate the precipitation trends forthe last 60 days (red being the driest; white-blue the wettest).Over the last 15 days, one can see how the snowiest conditionshave been in parts of northern Wyoming, Montana, Idahoand Washington extending up into Canada.
So where is the January Thaw in the Northeast? Record cold weatherbrought snow as far south as Wilmington, North Carolina and skiresorts in the Blue Mountains and Smokies of North Carolina andWest Virginia are seeing great conditions.
By historical standards, a January thaw is common in at leasttwo of every three years, but mainly in the east.
Last season, the winter was so mild that we need not even talk about a thaw. In fact, last winter was the first time ever that Burlington,Vermont did not fall below zero degrees at least once. Buds oftrees were even seen in southern New England and the Mid-AtlanticStates.
January Thaw holds a place in North America weather loreas prominent as Autumn’s Indian Summer. A thaw, by definitionis a unusual period of warm weather that significantly reducessnow or ice-cover. Most scientists agree that there is nometeorologically plausible physical mechanism to explain whya winter thaw should favor one period over another.
In my mind, the thaw has more to do with “cycles” in nature thanany other scientific reason. Cycles affect us in almost every aspectof our life. It is a common characteristic of human psychologythat people will find patterns in the world around them, whether or notthose patterns result from underlying coherent causes. Thesepatterns have served us well. Better we see the face of a non-existenttiger in the bushes and be wary, than not see the face of the tigerand be killed.
FORECAST FOR THIS WEEK–
New England will see a return of normal to above normal precipitation with several inches of snow likely on Wednesday and then a possible major Nor’easter Saturday that could bring up to 6-12 inches of snow from Maine to southern Vermont.
Some freezing rain and snow is possible in southern New England andsome computer models even bring rain to the far north instead of snow—be sure to check my web site for updates.
Out west, several weak disturbances should bring several inches of snowto Idaho, Wyoming, and perhaps the Squaw Valley area eastward tonorthern Utah over the next two days. This disturbance may make itfar enough east by later Wed.-Thurs. to bring Vail, Aspen and Steamboat3-6 inches of snow.
Snows will continue from Crystal Mt. (10 inches in the past weeek) to Mt. Baker andB.C. with at least 4-7 inches over the next two days.
By the weekend, a significant weather system has the chance to bringmuch needed snowfall to drought starved Utah, Nevada and parts ofColorado with 6-12 inches of snow. I am not convinced that thisis a longer term change in the dry pattern in the west, as there are suggestions of a return to drier weather next week. However, thiswill be the first weather system in at least two weeks thatwill bring some needed snows to the central and southern Rockies.
Longer term, I look for more cold weather in the east and a returnto warm weather out west.
OUR LONG RANGE OUTLOOK FOR FEBRUARY WILL BE AVAILABLE ONOUR WEB SITE FOR FREE BY WEDNESDAY–JANUARY 29TH ATwww.networkiowa.com/interrad/cgi-in/skiweather_details.cgi