Thursday, December 8th, 2011
Friday, December 9th, 2011
We should be able to pick up something with the arctic front and any Great Lakes moisture that gets entrained in the flow pushing up against the Spine late today and tonight.
I was pretty busy yesterday, so it feels like this first event has just jumped right in here. Anyway, Roger Hill talked about it this morning on his first broadcast. He’s expecting a couple of pulses of precipitation, one this afternoon, and then another overnight tonight. He said that for the first round, things will be a bit warm in the valleys for accumulation, and the discussion from BTV sounds similar:
AREAS WHERE THE MOST PERSISTENT LAKE EFFECT
SNOW FALLS MAY HAVE UP TO FOUR INCHES OF SNOW BY THE TIME IT IS DONE. MOST AREAS WILL HAVE CLOSER TO 1-3" OF SNOW. ONE THING THAT MAY HAMPER SNOWFALL ACCUMULATIONS IS WARM AIR. TEMPS IN THE SAINT LAWRENCE VALLEY ARE ALREADY IN THE UPPER 30S...HOPEFULLY THESE TEMPS WILL DROP ENOUGH FOR SOME SNOW TO DEVELOP. MAX TEMPS WILL GET INTO THE UPPER 30S TO AROUND 40S IN SOME PARTS OF OUR CWA WITH LOWER TO MID 30S IN THE DACKS AND GREENS.
I got a chuckle out of seeing that bit of subjectivity injected in there with the use of “hopefully”, so I guess we see where that forecaster stands on snow J. Anyway, Roger did stress that the potential was there for accumulations with that first round at appropriate elevations in the Northern Greens, and then all elevations could get into it more overnight. BTV discussion covering that period:
.SHORT TERM /7 PM THIS EVENING THROUGH SUNDAY/...
AS OF 350 AM EST FRIDAY...LAKE EFFECT SNOW WILL CONTINUE INTO THE OVERNIGHT HOURS...WITH THIS BEING THE MOST LIKELY TIME FOR SOME ACCUMULATIONS AS OVERNIGHT MINS DROP BELOW FREEZING ACROSS THE AREA. BT SATURDAY MORNING MOST LOCATIONS WILL HAVE ONE TO THREE INCHES WITH ISOLATED AREAS HAVING FOUR INCHES OR SLIGHTLY HIGHER TOTALS. THERE MAY ALSO BE SOME ACCUMULATING SNOWS IN THE UPSLOPE REGIONS OF THE NORTHERN GREENS OVERNIGHT. ONLY FLURRIES EXPECTED
HERE IN THE CHAMPLAIN VALLEY.
Hopefully the Greens will work some of their usual magic. Bolton has been making snow and is planning to start running some of the lifts tomorrow, but the prospect of getting a little natural on top of their base makes an early visit a little more appealing if there are any areas where the guns aren’t going to blowing on top of it.
No precipitation to report from here in Burlington, but I did get to watch a pretty neat show in the afternoon before the sun set. They didn’t look quite like lenticular clouds from here, but localized capping clouds were forming above many of the peaks of the Northern and Central Greens. The size of the clouds were basically proportional to the size of each peak, with bigger peaks like Mansfield and Camel’s Hump having large clouds, and smaller peaks like Dewey, Clark, and Mayo, having smaller ones – clearly some moisture was getting a lift. I’ve seen this happen from time to time, but today has some really distinct clouds like the really compact one that just sat there about 1,000 – 2,000 feet above Dewey Mountain. I also grabbed a couple of radar shots at that point, and the direction of the flow off the lakes looked pretty decent for this area:
Saturday, December 10th, 2011
and snowy! I was riding the chair this morning with AMWX poster "adk"
and we were both discussing how nice and wintery it finally feels out there.
Upslope machine put down a fresh inch in a couple hours between 4-6am, its now windy and 23F at 1,500ft with 13F at 4,000ft.
Now we are getting into our "nickle and dime" season with a half inch to an inch yesterday in squalls, another inch last night, and consistent flurries this morning.
American Weather seemed to be down this morning, so I wasn’t able to send along my observations, but I’ve pasted them in below:
Event totals: 0.4” Snow/0.03” L.E.
Light snow started up at some point overnight, and it may have been a bit warm at first because there was a then crusty layer on the bottom of the accumulation on the snowboard. The crust was pretty delicate though and was easy to get into the snow core. There’s light snow/flurries out there now, as we look to be just on the south end of that northern area of snow on the composite radar below – it looks like the Bolton through Mansfield stretch should be getting hit with that right now.
Some details from the 7:00 A.M. observations are below:
New Snow: 0.4 inches
New Liquid: 0.03 inches
Snow/Water Ratio: 13.3
Snow Density: 7.5% H2O
Temperature: 31.1 F
Sky: Light Snow/Flurries (1-2 mm flakes)
Snow at the stake: 1.0 inches
Here’s the north to south list of some of the Vermont ski area snow totals:
Jay Peak: 2”
Smuggler’s Notch: 1”
Bolton Valley: 1”
Sunday, December 11th, 2011
Since we had that touch of new snow yesterday, I popped up to Bolton for some opening day turns. In terms of natural snow, at the base of the Bolton Valley Access Road (340’) the snowpack was pretty much like it is at our house, depth is about an inch, with snow melted out on south-facing slopes, At around 1,000’ the snowpack became consistent on all aspects, and then up above 2,000’ in the Village there was a general 2-3” inches of snow everywhere. Temperatures were in the mid 20s F, and there was on and off light snow falling for the first part of the morning. I added a couple of shots from yesterday below, and at our website we’ve got the full report.
I don't know why I expect other stuff to be skiable so early, its only December 10th...but I've been skiing the same stuff for 2.5 weeks straight now.
Actually, your internal ski season clock is just about on track in terms of being able to ski other stuff at this point - based on the detailed summaries in my trip report archives, yesterday was the average start date for off piste/tree skiing in Northern/North-Central Vermont. Incorporating 11 years worth of data from the 90s (6 years) and 00s (5 years), the mean start date I calculate for the start of tree/natural snow skiing in this area is December 10th ± 13 days, with an average of 28.1 ± 6.5 inches of snowpack at the Mt. Mansfield Stake at that point. Now obviously this date doesn’t obey the semi-official “40-inch rule”, but I actually consider that a very conservative rule, representing a point where most off piste areas around here are reasonably skiable. If you think about it, 40 inches is around 3.5 feet of snowpack, and while the snowpack will typically be less than that in the lower elevations, unless the lower elevations have been absolutely hammered by warmth for some reason, when the stake hits 40 inches, off piste at most mountain elevations is humming right along. The start dates used for my calculations are what I’d consider middle of the road in terms of conservative – not something for which one would even need rock skis unless they are trying to hit the steeper stuff. To get a sense for the conditions on my chosen start dates from each season, I’ve got all the quotes and links to each report in the First Tracks post where I initially made the calculation in January of last year. I refined the initial data with last year’s tree skiing start date for me (December 18th) when I posted my summary of the 2010-2011 ski season.
So anyway, initial forays into the off piste should have already taken place by this point in about half the seasons around here, and that’s off piste terrain that should be open for the duration of the season based on coverage. But, that’s not to say it’s too strange that we’re not skiing off piste yet, we’re just in the bottom half of seasons now. And, assuming my data are representative of reality and conform to a normal distribution, we’ve still got a couple weeks to go before we even hit the +1 S.D. mark (December 23rd). Actually, I bet visitors might be surprised to know that if they take a ski trip to Northern Vermont over the holidays, they should actually expect to be able to ski off piste on natural snow in some capacity if they are an appropriately accomplished skier; they should actually expect it about 84.2% of the time by December 23rd based on my data. That’s not to say that it will turn out that way this season, since nothing is guaranteed and 15.8% of the time it’s going to happen later, but those odds are pretty darned good in my book, and much higher than I would have initially thought.
Actually, what’s really cool is if you run the numbers out to near the end of the holiday period at January 1st (22 days or 1.69 S.D. past the mean date), you find that there’s a 95.5% chance of off piste options being available by that point. That’s really impressive to me – in only about 1 out of 20 seasons will the off piste/natural snow skiing not have started around here by January 1st. Nothing speaks to this statistic better than the 2006-2007 winter season, which from what I understand was one of the more horrid starts in recent memory. As slowly as this season appears to be starting in terms of natural snowfall, 2006-2007 was even slower up to this point… much slower. We’d seen a mere 10.3 inches of snow at the house as of this date in December 2006 vs. the 15.8 inches we’ve had so far this season. In fact, the start to the 2006-2007 snowfall season was so meager, we did not even pass the 15-inch mark for total snowfall at the house until the very end of December when we got a storm on December 30th-31st that brought 6.9 inches of snow. I was blissfully clueless about just how slow a start it was at that point of course, because we’d just moved here and I had no idea of just how much snow this location typically gets. Anyway, I like 2006-2007 as an example because as slow and potentially aberrant a start as it was, natural snow skiing still got going before that 95%/1 in 20 date of January 1st. We were skiing natural terrain by our Bolton Valley outing on December 30th and it was pretty sweet:
Will this season be that 1 in 20 that goes past January 1st for the start of natural snow skiing? I hope not, and the odds are definitely against it, but it’s going to be fun to see what happens. If people think this information would be useful in the ski thread, I can also post it there.
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