The Tim Kelley Story and Where the Snow Is
By Tim Kelley, NECN Meteorologist

My parents were never snow skiers. So growing up on Cape Cod with non-ski parents there was no talk of, “Hey, let's go ski in New Hampshire.” But, at the age of about 12, I won a radio contest, a ski trip to Waterville Valley, with two nights at The Silver Squirrel Inn. Mom packed my brothers and me into the station wagon, it was April and foggy and there were bare patches all over the place, but I loved it!

My passion for weather is what really grew my passion toward the mountains and skiing. Watching Don Kent, Bob Copeland, and Bruce Schwoegler on TV made me think that the mountains of New Hampshire were just piled with snow. I love snow and I wanted more!

Weather and snow passion lured me to Lyndon State College in Vermont, the weatherman school, to earn a degree in meteorology. The road from Cape Cod to Lyndonville is interstate 93, through Franconia Notch.

There is no greater joy in my memory than the ride through 'The Notch'. Looking at those wide steep trails at Cannon Mountain, I thought, wow someday maybe I can ski those. Also, weather in the Notch is always different and exciting, it could be sunny in Lincoln and snowing in the Notch. Of course, we always had to pull off 93 to greet The Old Man on The Mountain (RIP).

But even then, in the mid-1980s, I was not much of a snow skier.

My passion has grown over the decades though, and skiing in New Hampshire is now a constant in my life. Trying to name a favorite ski area would be like trying to name a favorite child or a favorite season. I cannot do it. I love them all.

The decision where to ski has a lot to do with the exact weather pattern and who wants to go with me. I am still a resident of Massachusetts, so often if there is a powder day and I do not have much time I run up to Sunapee. Sometimes stopping at one of the other southern areas and making it a two-resort day/night session.

If I have a weekend off I may end up in Lincoln or Jackson, there is much more to do besides snow ski, and it’s always a good time. Of course good snow helps a lot.

So where is our good snow?

Wind direction plays a huge role in who gets the most snow in New Hampshire. The variations in how a storm plays out is a little too complex for this short essay, and I don't want to leave out any ski areas, so I'll just leave that be.

So far this winter, no wind direction has been good to us. We have had the occasional wind from the northeast, but it is not producing the way it is supposed to. That is because of a standing wave in the atmosphere. The weather pattern through Christmas so far has been a trough with cold and snow out west, and a ridge with warmth and rain in the East.

Will it change?

Probably not too much. But as Canada and the Atlantic Ocean both grow colder, the storm track should shift further south.

I believe our early winter snow drought will reverse. And unlike last year when the heaviest snow was in the southern part of the state, and it was so cold north, I believe this year will be snowier in the north. The El Nino, warmer than normal water in the Pacific Ocean, is beginning to relax. The Polar Vortex has been locked up at the pole.

If we can break up the Polar Vortex, and release some cold that has built over the arctic and cool the Pacific a tiny bit, we will end up with a good second half of winter.

But don't rely on the weatherman. Make your plan to hit the mountains knowing that somewhere in New Hampshire every weekend there will be at least some skiing, most likely good to great skiing, and plenty of other fun and festivities for the family.

That is a lock. 

And if the weather does let you down, blame me.

Tim Kelley, as always, at your snow service.