October 29th, 2011 – Waterbury Winter Weather Event Updates


A short summary of this winter storm is also available in the J&E Productions web log.



Monday, October 24th, 2011



Not surprisingly, both Roger Hill and Bob Minsenberger mentioned the potential for snow later in the week in their morning broadcasts, so that’s in line with what folks are discussing here in the forum.  I was up at Bolton for a while yesterday, and all the deciduous trees are essentially bare – for that matter even in the mountain valleys I’ve been seeing many locations with November-style views, so the vegetation around here appears to be ready if snow comes.  With the cloudy skies and cool weather yesterday, it definitely felt like the mountain was just waiting for snow.  Even the people I saw around in the village seemed to be in that mode.  Once the leaves are down and the weather starts to turn, there’s definitely that “stick season” feeling that begs for snow.



Saturday, October 29th, 2011



Our second significant snowstorm for October, and in fact our second significant snowstorm of the past three days, is on our doorstep.  As with the storm from Thursday, Vermont snowfall will again focused on the southern part of the state, and this is likely to be a record snowfall event for areas of Southern New England, and the Mid Atlantic Region.  Although this storm is still focused to our south, it is large enough that even our area is under its first Winter Weather Advisory of the season.  The winter weather advisory maps from the National Weather Service Office in Burlington have been added here, and more updates about this historic early-season winter storm can be found at their website.


Pictures from nws for web page







Snow started up here at the house right around 8:40 P.M., and has slowly been increasing in intensity since that point.  When I checked the elevated snowboard at 9:40 P.M. the snow had already started to accumulate and the first tenth of an inch was down.  Thus, this will go down as the first accumulating snowfall event of the season here and I’ve flipped the signature to the 2011-2012 version.  Snow is not yet accumulating on the ground etc. As they were suggesting, the BTV NWS put Winter Weather Advisories up for our county and the other fringe counties in Vermont for 2 to 5 inches of accumulation, so this is also our first Winter Weather Advisory of the season.



Event totals: 1.0” Snow/0.09” L.E.


Sunday 10/30/2011 6:00 A.M. update: Temperatures were a little marginal down at this elevation, and with warm ground, raised surfaces definitely supported better snow accumulation than the ground.  CoCoRaHS asks for the nearest half inch for stake measurements, and a half inch of depth is just about right for what we’re seeing here on the ground, while  the snowboard accumulation was right on at 1.0 inches.  There’s at least another tenth of an inch of accumulation on the board since the clearing, but snowfall looks like it is winding down pretty quickly per the BTV Composite Radar:




I skinned up all the skis last night, so they’re ready to go; we’ll see what we find off to the south and I’ll post some pictures if we get out on the snow.


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


New Snow: 1.0 inches

New Liquid: 0.09 inches

Snow/Water Ratio: 11.1

Snow Density: 9.0% H2O

Temperature: 32.5 F

Sky: Light Snow (1-5 mm flakes)

Snow at the stake: 0.5 inches



Monday, October 31st, 2011



View PostJ.Spin, on 30 October 2011 - 06:49 AM, said:

There’s at least another tenth of an inch of accumulation on the board since the clearing...


We finished up with a final two tenths of an inch of snow yesterday morning to bring the storm total here at the house to 1.2 inches.  Like Powderfreak and other folks we know from around here, we headed down to Pico to take advantage of the great ski conditions afforded by October snow on snow from the Thursday and Saturday systems.  At the base of Pico (2,000’) I measured 5.5 inches of snow in the parking lot that appeared to have been plowed since the Thursday storm, so that was likely the ground accumulation at that elevation from the Saturday storm.  At that same elevation I measured 11 inches of snow on picnic tables, which was probably the settled depth of snow from the two storms at the base.  On our ascent of the mountain, we generally measured settled snow depths of 12 to 16 inches up to 3,300’ elevation, with a few drifts to 24 inches.  The skiing was great as Powderfreak said; the snow had fallen a little dense, and in some spots it was touched a bit by wind, but it really stayed pretty dry while we were out there in the morning into midday.  Spots near the base area in the sun were certainly starting to get sticky in the afternoon, but on the upper mountain I think the temperature stayed near or below freezing because the snow was really quite excellent.  The sun gradually increased as the morning went on and it turned into one of those ski days where you almost forget to even think about the weather because it was so perfect.  I added a few shots from yesterday below:













Wednesday, November 2nd, 2011



View Postpowderfreak, on 1 November 2011 - 08:36 AM, said:

Nice report JSpin... What time were you there? Surprised we didn't run into you. We were there by like 830-9am and left around 1pm.


We didn’t get there until mid morning actually; it was after 10:00 A.M. by the time we pulled into the Pico base area.  I blame the boys, those slackers!  Actually though, despite the slower pace, it’s more than worth it to get to do the outings with the whole family, and the boys become stronger and more self-sufficient each year, so things are already faster than a few seasons ago.

View Postpowderfreak, on 1 November 2011 - 08:36 AM, said:

Also meant to tell you that there was almost 2" on the cars at the Waterbury park and ride around 630am. I was a little surprised you didn't have more than 1.2"...unless I just can't read a ruler because my obs were around a half inch higher than jvt in Stowe and yours in Waterbury LOL.


For my location I just figured it was a temperature issue melting some of the snow, since I don’t think we even got below freezing during the snowfall (temperature was 32.5 F at the 6:00 A.M. observation time).  But, the snow density came in at a reasonably dry 9.0% H2O (11 to 1) upon analysis that morning, so it doesn’t look like melting compaction was the issue.  I went and looked at the CoCoRaHS precipitation map for Sunday morning (inserted below), and I’d say that explains it nicely.  I think our location was just far enough west that the amount of precipitation was really starting to fall off.  If you look at the 0.09” of liquid received at our location (circled in red on the map below), it is very much in line with values seen over in Chittenden County on the western slopes, and you can see how it falls off even more once you get farther west into the Champlain Valley.  Those 0.23” and 0.24” reports just off to our Northeast on the map are the Waterbury 4.6 NNE and Waterbury 3.3 NE sites respectively, so just in those few miles within our town the precipitation went up 2 to 3 fold.  Those sites reported 2.5” and 1.8” of new snow respectively, so I could certainly see the Waterbury Park and Ride getting the 2” that you saw.  I’m not as sure about the difference between you and j24vt without the liquid data – but maybe it’s elevation?  I know you’re up the mountain road a good piece, where’s j24vt located in town?  We’re really lucky to have all the great CoCoRaHS observers around here to follow these events in such detail though; it would be fantastic to have the density of observations that we have in the Chittenden/Washington County area throughout the state.





View Postpowderfreak, on 2 November 2011 - 01:29 PM, said:

I doubt it matters but can ground heat transfer through a board like that?


There is certainly a degree of heat transfer through the boards, which will of course vary with thickness, composition etc., but it is possible to get melting of the snow on the board from the heat of the ground.  Fortunately, the process works both ways, and you can also have heat drawn away by snowpack under a board to keep it cooler.  This is very nice in events with marginal temperatures for those of us that can’t be at the board all the time.  Since one is supposed to try to catch the maximum accumulation of the snow before it melts/settles, I always try to have at least one ground-based board out on the snowpack to minimize whatever melting might take place in events where the temperature rises above freezing at some point.  It’s won’t save the snow from extremely warm temperatures, but it can really help if the temperature is a few degrees above freezing.  I’ve come home on occasion to find the snow on my elevated board melted down or even evaporated, whereas the boards on the snowpack held onto the snow due to the cooling.




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