Tuesday, February 01, 2011



Update from here in the Burlington area – first flakes seemed to come down a bit after 9:30 A.M., and we’ve had light snow comprised of 1-3 mm flakes since then.  I can see that there’s a coating on the cars, roads, and other surfaces now.



Event totals: 2.5” Snow/0.15” L.E.

Tuesday 2/1/2011 7:00 P.M. update:  When I left Burlington today at around 6:00 P.M. I’d say that they had picked up a couple inches of new snow, and it was certainly dry, fluffy snow.  On my car at the Waterbury Park and Ride I found about 3 inches of fresh snow, and it was definitely low density stuff.  For those that are familiar, it had that airy sugar, or perhaps “spun” sugary consistency that some batches of powder have.  It makes those small sounds of crystals smashing together as you brush it around, and in this case, the structure of the crystals was such that the snow stack was more on the “shattering” side of the spectrum vs. the “collapsing” side of the spectrum.  In line with that, it’s not the lightest of the light, because that stuff makes even less noise, and it also didn’t have the super aggregative properties that some batches of powder have.  Hearing the sounds and feeling the resistance of the powder, I still threw out my first guess at density at that point, and I went with somewhere in the 3% to 5% H2O range (ratios of 20 or 30 to 1).  I was eager to see how it came in when I got my core off the snowboard.


At home I found 2.5 inches on the board, and as soon as put my coring cylinder down and then compressed the core with the inner cylinder, I knew I’d guessed too low on the density.  There was a sneaky amount of liquid in there.  The core only compressed down to about a half inch under the standard amount of pressure that I apply, and it was definitely going to come in above 5% H2O.  Anyway, the single 68 mm diameter core melted down to 13.74 mL, which comes in at 0.15 inches of liquid, for a density of exactly 6.0% H2O or a ratio of 16.7 to 1.  So my first guess off the car was just a touch low.  I’m not sure what everyone’s best guess was for this part of the storm in terms of the temperatures and cloud physics, but that value comes from 0.15 inches of liquid with no wind, so it’s definitely a very robust and accurate measurement.  It will be interesting to see what others around here get for ratios if they catch it before settling, or what BTV comes in with.  The fresh snow I checked out in Burlington didn’t seem quite as airy as what I found in Waterbury, but it was still quite dry.


Anyway, looking ahead, I was watching NECN this evening and saw the latest snowfall map that Matt Noyes was presenting; I was very surprised to see the new configuration for snowfall.  He’s got a decent slug up here, so I grabbed a screen shot:

Some details from the 7:00 P.M. observations are below:

New Snow: 2.5 inches
New Liquid: 0.15 inches
Snow/Water Ratio: 16.7
Snow Density: 6.0% H2O
Temperature: 15.6 F
Sky: Light Snow (1-2 mm flakes)
Snow at the stake: 18.5 inches



Wednesday, February 02, 2011



Event totals: 4.3” Snow/0.36” L.E.

Wednesday 2/2/2011 6:00 A.M. update:  At the 6:00 A.M. I found 1.8 inches of new snow on the board.  It was coming down fairly heavily, but I wasn’t ready to call it heavy snow.  The flakes were small (1-3 mm) and this stuff is dense, coming in at 11.7% H2O which is essentially twice as dense as what we got yesterday.  If we get a healthy dose of this stuff, it could really be the shot in the arm that the local ski resorts need to finally clean up any bare spots on the trails that have been hanging around due to our lack of synoptic storms.


I left the house right around 7:00 A.M. and took a quick look at the snowboard on my way out.  It seemed to have a bit shy of an inch on it, so that would fit well with being just below an inch per hour snowfall; just below what I’d call “Heavy Snow”.  Still, the snow was coming down with plenty of vigor, and driving was tricky on Route 2 with low visibility and enough snow on the road to push the tires around a bit from our spot on the Waterbury-Bolton line until just before the center of Richmond.  As I drove into Richmond however, the intensity of the snowfall dropped way off, and it also looked like they hadn’t received as much snow as we had farther to the east.  From there on in to Burlington, I-89 was actually in great shape.  For much of the route between exits 11 and 14, the right lane was down to clean asphalt.  Folks were still taking it around 40-50 MPH, but everyone was moving along very nicely and the driving was quite easy aside from the occasional burst of snow from the wind or a passing vehicle.  The snowfall did intensify again as I passed through Williston to the Burlington area, and here at UVM there are some notably bigger flakes – I’d say up to 10 mm in diameter.  They’re getting some nice steady snow here right now.

Some details from the 6:00 A.M. observations are below:

New Snow: 1.8 inches
New Liquid: 0.21 inches
Snow/Water Ratio: 8.6
Snow Density: 11.7% H2O
Temperature: 15.1 F
Sky: Snow (1-3 mm flakes)
Snow at the stake: 20.0 inches



Event totals: 9.8” Snow/0.94” L.E.

Wednesday 2/2/2011 4:00 P.M. update:  In Burlington early this morning it was snowing steadily with at least moderate intensity.  The intensity of the snowfall dropped during the middle of the day, but boy did it come on in the mid afternoon.  I was leaving work around 3:00 P.M. and huge flakes up to 1 inch in diameter were pounding down.  The rate of snowfall had to be over an inch an hour, and visibility was below ¼ mile.  It clearly hadn’t been snowing that hard for too long, since I found only about 4.5 inches of snow on my car, which represented the 8-hour accumulation from 7:00 A.M. to 3:00 P.M.  Driving was fine on I-89, and even on Route 2 since the plows were able to keep up with the snowfall – aside from the heavy stuff that was going on when I left Burlington, snowfall was light to moderate at most.  At the house I cleared the snowboard after finding 5.5 inches of new snow on it; that was the 10-hour accumulation since 6:00 A.M.  It was again fairly dense snow (10.5% H2O) as I’d found this morning, with a hefty 0.58 inches of liquid in it.  There was also a neat layer of graupel down near the bottom, with some fairly large balls up to 4 or 5 mm in diameter.

Some details from the 4:00 P.M. observations are below:

New Snow: 5.5 inches
New Liquid: 0.58 inches
Snow/Water Ratio: 9.5
Snow Density: 10.5% H2O
Temperature: 20.8 F
Sky: Snow (1-5 mm flakes)
Snow at the stake: 24.5 inches



Event totals: 12.0” Snow/1.07” L.E.

Wednesday 2/2/2011 10:00 P.M. update:  I’ve seen folks going both ways on the event totals (splitting out the first round or not), but my event total is for the entire “one, two punch” as some have called it, since even though there was a break in the action, it has come across as one big strung out system to me.  We’ve had some decent snowfall over the past 6 hours, although I’d say the bulk of it has come on since 7:00 P.M. back when Powderfreak put up the BTV radar image.  This evening’s snow is much less dense; it’s back down to the ~6% H2O stuff we picked up in the first round yesterday.  Anyway, this location hit a couple of good event benchmarks with this last round of accumulation in that we reached the inch of liquid and a foot of snow.  The snow is still coming down out there at a similar pace, and there is moisture upstream on the radar, so there will probably be a bit more accumulation to add when I take my 6:00 A.M. observations tomorrow.


I decided to check in and see how some of the local ski areas have been doing with this event.  Some resorts haven’t updated since this morning, but Bolton and Stowe have made evening updates and 72-hour totals are in the 1.5 to 2 foot range.  A few of those inches could be from the Sunday event though.  If I have time tomorrow I’ll try to get a list of more 72-hour totals together, and at that point it should be for just this event.

Some details from the 10:00 P.M. observations are below:

New Snow: 2.2 inches
New Liquid: 0.13 inches
Snow/Water Ratio: 16.9
Snow Density: 5.9% H2O
Temperature: 14.9 F
Sky: Light/Moderate Snow (1-10 mm flakes)
Snow at the stake: 26.0 inches



Thursday, February 03, 2011



Event totals: 13.2” Snow/1.11” L.E.

Thursday 2/3/2011 6:00 A.M. update:  We picked up a bit more fluff overnight, and based on the radar it looks like the snow is just about done.


I grabbed the 48/72-hour totals from the Vermont ski areas that have updated this morning, which should represent totals for this event.  The list is north to south in the state, but I had to leave out several areas that either hadn’t updated or didn’t provide any text about 48 or 72-hour totals.


Jay Peak: 26”

Stowe: 17”

Bolton Valley: 26”

Sugarbush: 15”

Pico: 16”

Killington: 16”

Stratton: 9”

Mount Snow: 15”

Some details from the 6:00 A.M. observations are below:

New Snow: 1.2 inches
New Liquid: 0.04 inches
Snow/Water Ratio: 30.0
Snow Density: 3.3% H2O
Temperature: 10.2 F
Sky: Cloudy, Flurries
Snow at the stake: 26.5 inches



Event totals: 13.4” Snow/1.11” L.E.

Thursday 2/3/2011 6:00 P.M. update:  We got a couple more tenths of an inch of snow this morning at the house to finish off the midweek system, and eventually the sun came out to provide some amazing views of the new snow.  I was up at Bolton this morning for a few runs, and the skiing was excellent as one might expect.  I did some depth checks while on the slopes, and found generally 9 to 14 inches of settled powder on piste in the 1,500’ to 3,000’ elevation range, although I’m not sure if some areas had been skied during part of the storm.  Off piste I was getting depths of around 26 inches of powder, but since there’s no real base layer underneath areas where people haven’t skied, it sort of depends on how hard one wants to push down to get a snow depth.  The 26” accumulation number that I reported from Bolton’s website this morning was their 72-hour total, which should go back to Monday morning, but in their snow report from this morning they are going with a 22” storm total for the 48 hours of this event, so they must have had a little extra before this system:


“Let's keep this simple. Here are our snowfall totals: 2-3" daytime Tuesday, 2-3" Tuesday night, 3-4" early Wednesday morning, 5-7" during the day Wednesday, and at least 4-5" last night. That's a storm total of 16-22" in under 48 hours. Conditions ought to be transcendent. And yesterday's bad news becomes today's good: as a result of Wednesday's wind hold keeping our lifts quiet, almost all of that powder lies waiting to be carved up.”


It’s really great when they lay out the numbers like that though, because one can see where it all comes from.  I wasn’t out on the hill yesterday during the storm, but I guess wind hold had the lifts down.  I was surprised by that because I hadn’t seen much wind at all in the valleys during my travels.  I added an image from the day below; I think the wind-scoured steep face of Upper Tattle Tale might have been the last holdout in terms of getting everything on the mountain open, and it skied really nicely today:


Some details from the 6:00 P.M. observations are below:

New Snow: 0.2 inches
New Liquid: Trace
Temperature: 12.0 F
Sky: Clear
Snow at the stake: 26.0 inches