Monday, February 21st, 2011



Event totals: 1.6” Snow/0.12” L.E.


Monday 2/21/2011 6:00 A.M. update: There’s been a steady light snow outside that seemed to start up around midnight.  Only a couple of other CoCoRaHS reports were in, but the total here seemed to be a bit higher than off to the north and east.  Snow ratios/densities from the other sites were fairly similar to what I found here though.  Bolton Valley came in with 2 inches of new snow at 6:20 A.M., but it will be interesting to see what other totals are like off to the south and west.



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


New Snow: 1.6 inches

New Liquid: 0.12 inches

Snow/Water Ratio: 13.3

Snow Density: 7.5% H2O

Temperature: 12.9 F

Sky: Light Snow (1-8 mm flakes)

Snow at the stake: 21.0 inches


powderfreak, on 21 February 2011 - 07:19 AM, said:

Doesn't really seem like elevation had any role in this snowfall last night... this is not fluff either. Its dry snow but you can tell there's some liquid in it. Wouldn't be surprised if we had 0.1" QPF as it doesn't feel better than a 10:1 snow.


Based on the snow:water ratio found here and what I saw at those other two CoCoRaHS sites, it’s probably in that 0.1” L.E. range as you surmised.  I was surprised at how much liquid was in the snow here.  I stacked two 68 mm cores and got 21.75 mL of water, well more than I thought I would.  This snow had a sneaky amount of moisture for how dry it behaves, which shows the value of getting the actual numbers I guess.  Even with as much powder as I’ve analyzed and skied in, it’s still hard to tell sometimes.  Are you guys going to be doing liquid analyses eventually at Stowe?  It would be some great information for (some) skiers of course, but I’m sure you guys would love to avoid having to guess.  I would think you’d have to report liquid if you became a Cooperative Observer Site.  In terms of CoCoRaHS, I think liquid/liquid equivalent is more popular than snow.  I can’t remember if it was a discussion with one of the CoCoRaHS coordinators or something I read, but the number of people who report on snow drops way off compared to how many people report on liquid – many find the snow a hassle and don’t even deal with it.  A couple more sites have reported in this morning:



powderfreak, on 21 February 2011 - 08:02 AM, said:

You're location continues to amaze me, J. You are likely the snowiest location in New England that is under 500ft in elevation... I never really thought about it but I can't think of anywhere at just under 500ft that gets as much snow as your location does. We should do some research on that, haha.


You know that’s funny, I thought about that the other day.  Following the weather board here as well as the coop sites etc., one notices that some spots are the snowiest, some spots are the coldest, some spots have the best snow retention, some spots build the deepest snowpack, some spots are windiest, etc.  Of course with the high elevation stations around here, this spot is none of those, and really doesn’t have much of a claim to fame.  There’s certainly nothing exceptional about this location in any one parameter compared to all the surrounding locations in such a varied, mountainous locale, but then I began to ponder like you about what other area under 500 feet in elevation gets as much snow as we see here.  The only places that I could immediately think of would be in the lake-effect zones off to our west in New York, which certainly do get more snow, but I’m not sure of the elevations.  Some of them are pretty low elevation I bet.  Perhaps for New England under 500’ though, this stretch in the Winooski Valley could be the spot for snowfall with the unique mixture of east side/west side meteorological characteristics, wind protection, etc.  There’s certainly something to it, especially when it’s one of the first things my next door neighbor mentioned to me when we moved in here, along with the observations you’ve made in your trips through here.  The unique properties of this spot are certainly part of what keeps me inspired to maintain the rigorous snowfall records.


Snowfall update – we’ve got a couple more tenths on the board since my 6:00 A.M. report with continued light snowfall.


powderfreak, on 21 February 2011 - 09:29 AM, said:

The snowfall is high in this area not because we jackpot in every storm, but because of the consistent orographic dustings that seem to happen 5 nights per week.


I think we’ve actually had the debate before on the board (back on I believe) about people’s preference for dense synoptic snows vs. lake-effect/mountain upslope fluff.  Some folks scoff at the fluffy stuff and don’t even call it snow because it doesn’t add much to the snowpack.  Some folks call the small events with less than an inch of snowfall “nuisance snow” and don’t even measure them.  Some folks will say that the snowfall total for a storm should only be taken at the end of the storm, after the snow has stopped.  Those thoughts and practices are not necessarily scientific, but they’re certainly fun to debate and a bit more understandable in places that get snow from solely synoptic storms.  Trying to integrate some of those concepts into snow measurement in the mountains or lake effect belts would be quite different however, where many days of miniscule snowfalls occur, and the upslope snow from a storm may linger for a week.  We had one meteorological retrograding upper level low/upslope event this season that spanned nine days (12/2/2010 – 12/10/2010) and ultimately deposited 23.4 inches of snow in this location.  It’s an extreme example, but a good one because people familiar with mostly synoptic storms would certainly scoff at it being thought of as a two foot storm.  Waiting the nine days until the storm was “over” to record the snow total would be very curious in that case.   I have the snowfall recorded for this location broken out into each meteorological event in my signature, and some events are quite small, but in j24vt’s daily snowfall data in his signature it’s easier to see the trend of what happens each day.  There’s no question that it takes diligence to follow this stuff – I can remember Powderfreak talking about how the number of days during the snowfall season with snowfall actually outweighed the number of days without snowfall (he may recall what the ratio was).  That’s a different environment than what many people are used to in the winter, so the amount of snowfall recording and the numbers involved are certainly a different animal as well.



Event totals: 2.0” Snow/0.13” L.E.


Monday 2/21/2011 12:00 P.M. update: In the morning we picked up a final 0.4 inches from the recent system before the sky had mostly cleared out to produce a beautiful, albeit somewhat cold day.  Between this weekend’s three snowfall events, 3.7 inches of snow fell here at the house in the form of 0.21 inches of liquid.  After settling, it currently sits as roughly 2 to 3 inches atop the old snowpack.


With this morning’s accumulation being the last shot of snow for the next few days, we decided to head up to Bolton Valley for a few turns, so I can provide some conditions data from the higher elevations there.  Temperatures seemed a little cold and the new snow not quite deep enough for lift-served skiing, so we checked out the powder on the Nordic/backcountry network.  We found 3 to 4 inches of settled powder in the lower village portion of the network at around 2,000’, and up at the Bryant Cabin (~2,700’) the depths were 4 to 5 inches.  That area is generally quite sheltered, but we did find a few drifts with depths up to around 15 inches.  We had mid to upper teens in the valley when we headed up to the mountain in the mid afternoon, but the temperature dropped off pretty quickly with elevation, and it was 6 F up at 2,000’.  When we returned to the car around 5:30 P.M. as the sun was setting, the temperature at 2,000’ was 3 F and back down at the base of the access road at 230’ it was around 10 F.  There was definitely enough snow for some fun turns; I added a couple of images from this afternoon below:




I guess the next potential event is the one at the end of the week.  Based on Roger Hill’s comments on SkiVT-L this morning, it still sounds like it’s up in the air in terms of what form of precipitation we might see.  I’m planning to check in on the “Going Forward into March” thread to see what the latest thoughts are around here.


Some details from the 12:00 P.M. Waterbury observations are below:


New Snow: 0.4 inches

New Liquid: 0.01 inches

Snow/Water Ratio: 40.0

Snow Density: 2.5% H2O

Temperature: 16.3 F

Sky: Mostly Clear

Snow at the stake: 21.0 inches


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