Sunday River is opening their new Barker 6 bubble this weekend! 📷 Sunday River

Weekend Outlook: 12/9-10

We've had a glorious week filled with both fresh snow in northern areas and snowmaking has been happening widely across the Northeast with temperatures in many cases reaching optimal levels, but this weekend is going to bring change.

Forecast Maps Improved: After receiving a lot of great feedback on our new Ski Conditions Forecast maps, I've made improvements to all of our forecasts maps. Icons are now larger, text is more condensed, and the colors will now work for those with color blindness. I will also try to fit in more ski areas soon. There's a lot of information in one graphic, in fact I could almost do this entire update in just 3 graphics covering the entire weekend!

Saturday we get warm humid air in front of our next system that will cause some visibility issues and even some widespread fog which may cause travel issues as well as issues on some slopes, plus some sticky pow that will melt for the first time since it fell.

As you probably know by now we have a storm incoming on Sunday, but you may still be able to make a nearly full dry day out of it if you plan carefully, but you will also need to try to miss some sticky snow and also some wind.

We will get some snow behind this system on Monday and I'll issue a Storm Update early this afternoon to help you better understand what will happen. There will be snow with this storm, and also wind, but also a lot of rain. The storm will be both a boom and a bust.


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Saturday Forecast

Synopsis: Almost everyone will get above freezing on Saturday, and we'll have some sticky snow in parts of VT, NH, and ME. We will also be dealing with widespread fog and some mist on the mountains from southerly flow. Bring your clear lenses and maybe a goggle wipe!

Let's start out with the good stuff. It will be spring-like and comfortable for many to ski this Saturday if you pick 'em right, and I'll certainly give you all a heads up for what I am expecting. Terrain is building all over and we have a respectable amount of terrain now as well as more and more ski areas opening. For many, Saturday will be the best day for probably a couple of weeks, so make it happen! Here's the new and improved Ski Conditions Forecast for Saturday with the addition of a fog layer, and I'll discuss the highlights below.

My picks for Saturday are hands down Saddleback and Sugarloaf. Both received close to a foot and a half of snow last Monday, and Saddleback is opening 100% of their terrain on Friday. These are the only two ski areas that will stay below freezing on Saturday, or at least not get too melty to stick beyond their bases.

Although Saturday shouldn't be rainy, there is a heap of moisture flowing north with the southerlies out in front of this storm and that's going to create fog and even mist on the mountains, possibly even some freezing mist in parts of Maine. Let's take a quick look at the NAM3K simulated radar for Saturday, and pay close attention to those little green and pink specks. When you see that in this particular version of the NAM3K, that generally means fog and mist on the mountains. There's also going to be a ton of fog on the coastal plain through the entire Northeast. This might cause travel issues Saturday morning as well as ski issues when it comes to visibility.

The other concern will be the fact that a lot of the pow that fell since last Sunday has stayed below freezing and will first thaw early Saturday. Unfortunately that means sticky pow for some. Crayoning wax onto dry bases with a quick buff is one trick I use, but you can't always power your way through sticky snow. Hunting that deep powder from last week in some cases may be a mistake, but I'm sure many will try. I've highlighted ski areas in VT, NH, and ME where I have concerns based on whether or not the pow was substantial, and whether or not it cycled before now (melting and refreezing helps snow not become sticky).

Sunday Forecast

Sunday is going to be tough. You may get in up to half a dry day in New England, but the wind will come before the rain so you have to pick your ski areas carefully. Maine is definitely the best call, though sticky snow will still be around and what was great Saturday may not be so great Sunday.

We'll dive right into the new Ski Conditions Forecast map for Sunday, but this time there is a baselayer which indicates when the rain will start. I've chosen today's 6z ECWMF for timing, and it is faster than some other models, so I would expect the arrival time to generally not be faster than shown, and they may be up to 2 hours later. No one is going to refreeze overnight and that means whoever was sticky on Saturday will likely be sticky again, but Saddleback and Sugarloaf are being added to the list as this will be their first thaw. It will likely be worse overall than Saturday in that regard. We also have wind to deal with and I'll discuss that separately.

My pick for Sunday is Sunday River as they will have the Barker 6 and the Jordan 8 operating, and those lifts can withstand winds about 10-15 mph stronger. They have the best shot of staying dry for most of the day and not having wind holds.

I have a loop of the 6z ECMWF also timestamped to go along with this so that you can visualize the progression of the rain. I expect a good number of ski areas in NY, NJ, PA, and maybe parts of Southern New England to not open on Sunday due to the combination of wind and rain.

So now for the wind. Wind will be lift-threatening about 2 hours ahead of the rain. So consult the map above for general timing. Wind hold forecasts confirm when a either a primary lift from the main base goes down for wind, or when other lifts are held for wind which limits or complicates access to 25% or more of open terrain for 2+ hours of the ski day. In this case don't expect many if any lifts to come back on line since it will probably be pouring rain when the wind lets up. I have some degree of warning out for almost every open ski area. The rain will make wind holds more likely so I've been somewhat aggressive. Expect many in NY, PA, CT, and MA to announce closing for Sunday, with maybe some others in Northern New England joining.

Knowledge Is Avoiding the Underdeveloped Powder and Wind!

-- Matt