Bolton Valley, VT 06MAR2011
Our big winter storm continues to build into the area, and E and her co-director decided to cancel ski program at Stowe today due to so many parents being concerned about the high winds and nasty mix of precipitation. Since the precipitation was only gradually changing over to snow during the day, I waited until later in the afternoon to head up to Bolton Valley and make some turns in the fresh snow. By noontime, snow was mixing in down at the elevation of the house (495’), and a half hour later it was over to all snow. Knowing that it had likely switched over to snow up on the mountain earlier than it had down at the house, by 3:00 P.M. when we’d accumulated about an inch of new snow in our yard, I decided it was time to go up and see what Mother Nature had delivered to the slopes.
On my way up the Bolton Valley Access Road, I stopped in at the Timberline base (1,500’). Presumably due to the recent nasty weather, the lift wasn’t running and there wasn’t a soul around. I found 1-2” of new snow there, then I headed up to the main base (~2,100’) where accumulations seemed pretty similar. The ski area was essentially shut down, and all was quiet as I skinned up to the Vista Summit (3,150’). Up there at the top I found one protected spot with 3 inches of accumulation, but in general there wasn’t anything more than a couple of inches. Still, since the snow was somewhat dense, it was going to be enough to keep me floating to some degree if I discovered hard snow.
Like it had for much of my time on the mountain, it was snowing small flakes as I began my descent from Vista. While the area had presumably lost its wintry air while the warm, front end of the storm was coming through, it was starting to look really nice as the snow accumulated on the evergreens. I headed down Hard Luck, which offered me some steep turns that were actually quite excellent with the fresh snow. Since the new snow is dense, it seems to be bonding nicely to the old snow as it cools down. I was certainly touching down to the old snow at times on the steep pitches of Hard Luck (which are probably in the 30-degree range in spots), but even the base snow was reasonably pliable, and combined with the new dense stuff, the conglomerate was providing quite a ripping ride.
Below mid mountain I hit Beech Seal, and I was definitely thinking how great it was to be out there arcing those big fat turns in the new snow with the whole trail to myself. At least there are some benefits to having the ski area closed for the day. I didn’t even stop to get any pictures, although I’m guessing that with only a couple of inches of new snow, the wintry scenes weren’t particularly inspirational enough to get me to stop. It was definitely good to get out and catch some turns in those first inches of snow though, and the great news was that it looked like the local mountains and even the valleys were about to be in for a pounding of snowfall.
Back down at the house, it looked like the snowfall had picked up a bit in the later afternoon, because when I cleared the snowboard at 4:30 P.M. it had 2.4 inches of snow on it. With the sleet down on the bottom of the stack, the overall density came in at 13.3% H2O, but even with the small flakes, the snow that was on top was certainly less dense than that. The snow was probably standard synoptic stuff at around 10% H2O. I grabbed a still shot showing some of the new snow out back before dusk came in – even though I hadn’t gotten any shots from up on the mountain, that new accumulation on the evergreen was a great example of what I’d seen up there.
It sounds like conditions will be going from good to great based on the current forecasts anyway; the latest discussion from the Burlington NWS this afternoon suggests that snowfall totals of 1 to 2 feet will be possible across a good portion of the region through tomorrow when this storm cycle winds down. While not a super huge event, the snow will likely contain a lot of denser, standard synoptic snow as opposed to being just Champlain Powder™, so it should be good in terms of helping out the snowpack as we move toward spring. Also, since this area had been out of the synoptic storms for so much of the season, this could represent the first synoptic storm to really set a bull’s-eye on our area. After a midweek lull, another storm of this type could be on the way for the end of the week into the weekend. I’ve added a couple of the updated accumulations maps from the BTV NWS below: