Bolton Valley, VT 07MAR2011
Well, after the storm switched over fully to snow yesterday afternoon, it decided to deliver in a big way. While only a few inches had fallen when I made my trip up to Bolton to ski yesterday afternoon, down at our house in the Winooski Valley we’d picked up over a half foot of snow by the time I went to be last night, and then on top of that another ten inches fell overnight. The overnight stack of snow was nice to see on the snowboard this morning; one could tell that it was definitely medium-density synoptic snow (10.1% H2O) by the way it stacked in a somewhat trapezoid shape:
The National Weather Service Office in Burlington had updated their storm total graphics appropriately by this morning’s package to better indicate the expected totals, and indeed our area of the Greens was looking to get around two feet of synoptic snow, so I suspected that the mountains would easily clear that mark:
The snow continued to pour down, and by noontime today we’d received almost two feet at the house – and we’d picked it up in just about 24 hours! By that point the storm was already our largest synoptic system of the season, and it was threatening to become the largest system altogether if it could beat out the 23.4-inch upslope snow event from early December. We decided not to rush off to the slopes right away in the morning, but instead played around in the snow and worked on snow removal. When I had run the snow thrower through the driveway in the late morning, it definitely took longer to clear things than usual. Biting off over 20 inches of synoptic snow at once was just about as much as my snow thrower could handle, but I used the lower speeds (I even had to use a lot of the “turtle” setting) and it definitely met the challenge. I grabbed a measurement shot before I cleared the last slice of the driveway accumulation, and that came in at around 21 inches. The storm total at that point was 22.5 inches, so with the synoptic-level density of the snow, it really hadn’t been settling too quickly.
This morning’s run was certainly the deepest synoptic snow I’ve thrown in one pass, and the height of the intake on my snow thrower is only 22 inches, so that’s pretty close to the max. It is nice not to be shoveling like we did for the 2007 Valentine’s Day storm though, or we’d still be out there.
Finally, after having some lunch, we headed up to the mountain to get in some powder skiing in all the new snow. E was initially worried about having to drive up the Bolton Valley access road in the storm, but I insisted that was crazy and that these sorts of days were absolutely not the ones to be missed on the mountain – especially when both our vehicles are all-wheel drive. Being just a few miles from the ski area, all one has to do is take it slow and watch out for other drivers (her main concern actually) and you’ll get there. The drive to Bolton is especially short when we only head to Timberline, and indeed that’s what we did because it offers some nice protection on storm days. It sounded like the Vista Chair was on hold due to the winds anyway. We unloaded the gear at the base area, and amidst the continued snowfall we knew the skiing was going to be great.
We hopped on the lift and could see that there were plenty of tracks since people had been skiing the storm all morning, but we could also see that there was plenty of fresh snow and knew there would be plenty of powder lines for us to catch. Kicking things off with a mid station run on Spell Binder, we got our first taste of the snow. It was indeed fairly standard, medium-weight synoptic powder like my observations and measurements down at the house had suggested, but boy was it deep. My measurements on the mountain revealed accumulations in the 25 to 31-inch range, which is pretty darned good for a solely synoptic storm. It was fun to watch the boys experience the deep snow on their skis because even with all the powder skiing they do, they don’t get to experience 2 ½ feet of synoptic snow every day. The powder wasn’t quite as over the head as it would have been if we’d gotten some of our fluffier Champlain Powder™ to top things off, but the boys showed that even the synoptic snow could be over the head at times. Let’s just say that everyone had quite a blast, and it wasn’t hard to convince E that we do not want to skip days like this due to concerns about the driving.
The skiing on Spell Binder had been quite good, especially the headwall which offered plenty of pitch for the deep snow, and we knew we wanted to choose more steep terrain to continue the powder adventures. With that in mind, we headed all the way to the Timberline summit and hit Tattle Tale. Much like Spell Binder, Tattle Tale delivered, and many steep and deep turns were made.
It continued to snow, and we continued our steep theme with a run on Secret Solitude. We were getting the boys to launch off almost anything since the snow was so forgiving, and we got some great photos throughout the area. It was tough to leave at the end of the day, especially as I peered over one of the steep, untracked shots below Adam’s Solitude and wished that I had my climbing skins, as well as the time to use them.
When I took my snow measurements at the house this evening at 6:00 P.M., they revealed that we had hit 25.0 inches of snowfall with this storm, making it the largest of the season. We also passed 40 inches of snowpack in the yard, which is not surprisingly the greatest depth attained so far this winter.
Some of the Northern Vermont areas are approaching 3 feet of new snow from this event, and since it was a denser, synoptic-style snow, it was quite a resurfacing for the slopes. I’ve added the latest storm total reports I’ve seen from the some of the Vermont areas below as of the end of the ski day today, listed north to south:
Jay Peak: 34”
Smuggler’s Notch: 30”
Bolton Valley: 32”
Mad River Glen: 30”
Mount Snow: 0”
While this season has been more consistent than average in terms of winter temperatures around here, it has seemed pretty average in terms of snowfall and liquid because we went so long without any synoptic storms. I’d say that with this storm though, we may have stepped into above average territory. As of this evening, the snowpack at the stake on Mt. Mansfield hit 90 inches, which is certainly above average. Below I’ve listed some of season to date snowfall numbers for resorts around here:
Jay Peak: 299”
Mad River Glen: 247”
The snowfall numbers don’t seem outrageous for the Northern resorts based on their seasonal snowfall averages, so I think it’s going to take a big March if snowfall is going to end up substantially above average around here. Chances may be incoming - after a couple of clear days to ski the new snow, the NWS says that there are more storms lined up starting on Thursday.
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