Stowe, VT 08MAR2011
Our recent winter storm really delivered, with 25.0 inches of snow down at the house and over three feet at some of the ski areas. I’ve added the updated storm totals for some of the Vermont ski areas below:
Jay Peak: 42”
Smuggler’s Notch: 30”
Bolton Valley: 32”
Mad River Glen: 32”
Mount Snow: 0”
On their website, Jay Peak noted that this storm set a 24-hour record for them with 32 inches falling between 1:30 P.M. on Sunday and 1:29 P.M. Monday, although in the Northern New England thread in the Americanwx.com New England regional forum it sounds like there could be some contention with their numbers.
Below I’ve listed updated season to date snowfall numbers for some of the resorts:
Jay Peak: 315”
Bolton Valley: 287”
Mad River Glen: 249”
Because Dylan had less than a half day at school due to Kindergarten screening, I’d planned far in advance to take the day off, and since Dylan would have had so little school anyway, he just stayed out for the whole day. With blue skies, temperatures around 30 F, no wind, warm March sun, deep snowpack, 2 to 3 feet of new snow, and reduced levels of skiers due to it being midweek, today was really a no-brainer in terms of getting out on the slopes. In the morning I went around the yard and checked out how the recent snow had settled in – it was sunny, so I had plenty of light as I snapped some pictures of the wintery scenes:
In the afternoon, Dylan and I headed off to Stowe to make some turns. The first thing that grabbed our attention was the view of the powdery lower slopes of Spruce Peak. While they were adorned with plenty of tracks, we could see that lots of fresh lines were left, so we had to check that out for our first run. The snow was synoptic in density, and there was a little wind crust, but it was still oh so good. Dylan did a nice job managing the tricky conditions, even though he doesn’t yet have any fat skis.
Eventually we made our way over to Mt. Mansfield, and I decided that we should do a long run to explore the various areas off to the skier’s left of Chin Clip like Angel Food etc. The trees had been hit pretty hard by skiers, but there’s just so much terrain back there that there’s always more fresh snow to find. We both worked ourselves pretty hard in the dense snow though, and with tired Telemark legs for me, the long traverse back toward Chin Clip felt like it took forever. We both needed a break after that run, and opted for some convenient food in the Midway Lodge. I hadn’t eaten there in quite a while, but we found a nice spot near the fireplace to relax… and boy did we chow down.
Eventually we pulled ourselves away from the fire for some more Gondola skiing, but by that point we were taking it slow and easy – with my cooked legs even Perry Merrill was quite a workout! We made our way back over to the Spruce side of the resort, and geared down. I called E to see if she and Ty wanted to grab some dinner in town on their way home from school, and indeed they did. We stopped in at Frida’s for Mexican, and boy was my body happy to take in more food. I’m not sure if it was due to four days of skiing in a row, but for whatever reason I was whipped and needed to replace a lot of energy.
So overall in terms of the snow quality and quantity, there’s really not much to complain about out there right now. Having said that, there’s almost always some room for improvement in the conditions, and being Northern Vermont Champlain Powder™ country, I guess we could have a little fun with being picky in the conditions reporting process. This storm really didn’t have much fluff on top of the synoptic snow, so the feel was more dense than usual. The density gave the recent snow great base-building properties, but it didn’t all ski quite as gloriously as if it had been topped off with a little more fluff. Down at the house, we actually did receive 2.5 inches of 4% H2O snow at the tail end of the system, and it sounds like the mountains had a few inches of that as well, but it seems like the wind had its way with it in places. My analyses down here in the valley revealed snow densities between 9.7% and 11.4% H2O through the bulk of the storm, which isn’t quite in the cement/concrete range, but there’s something about this denser snow and the way it behaves as it gets tracked up. Despite better staying power as a base, it seems to have less staying power as “powder” compared to the fluffier stuff. A good dump of very fluffy snow will create those trenches that almost fill back in after the skier passes through, and it’s almost like it can serve up fluff to round after round of skiing. But with the denser powder, it seems to take a much heavier hit when a skier goes through it. Also, the denser powder doesn’t settle as much, but it seems to set up stiffer as it does settle.
Anyway, with the subtleties aside, we found all different types of powder out on Stowe’s slopes today. I measured 16-17 inches of settle powder in the Meadows area, and it had a touch of wind crust on top, but it really skied well. In the trees we found anywhere from 18 inches, up to depths that swallowed my entire pole, depending on how things had settled in with aspect and wind. We found many areas with fluffy, deep snow that the wind had never seen; it just wasn’t the ultra fluff comprised of those huge dendrites that make that faint, high-pitched sound of millions of crystals shattering as you pass through. Groomed slopes were thoroughly resurfaced, although wind-scoured areas still had some slick surfaces exposed.
The Burlington NWS came out with their accumulations map for the storm today, so I added a copy below. Unfortunately their scale stops at around 24 inches, so it doesn’t allow one to see the subtleties of where the top end accumulations came in and the northern half of the state is essentially one color. The highest value I saw reported in the list was 34 inches from a co-op observer in Jay.
For those that want to get out and ski under the blue skies, tomorrow might be the last day because the next storm starts up on Wednesday night. It looks to be another warm storm like this past one with the precipitation battling back and forth between rain, mix, and snow right through the weekend, especially in the valleys, so conditions will probably be Pacific Northwest-like for a bit, before the precipitation gets back over to all snow Friday night. That's how things look currently, but we'll just have to see how it plays out.