Stowe, VT 30JAN2011


E and Claire canceled Sunday Stowe program on the 23rd due to the cold, but today we were back at it.  After a fairly dry week, we’d received some nice new accumulation up at Bolton to freshen up the slopes yesterday.  Down in the valley at the house, we wound up with 1.4 inches from that event, and there was more on the way for today.  In my update from this morning, I summarized yesterday’s storm that had just gone through, discussed the next shortwave that was about to cross the area, and mentioned talk about a larger midweek system that might actually deliver something more substantial to Northern New England for a change:


Sunday 1/30/2011 6:00 A.M. update:


Waterbury Event totals: 1.4” Snow/0.02” L.E.


“There was an additional 0.2 inches of snow on the board this morning, and there has been enough of a lull in snowfall here that I may be able to break that event out from the next weak shortwave that is supposed to cross the area today.  It’s nice to see BTV discussing the potential midweek system in more detail now.  There was a lot of discussion taking place here on the forum, but with BTV not discussing much it made me wonder if it was really going to be anything up here.  It certainly seems like we have a shot at being more than just on the fringe with this one.”


We got up to the mountain around midday, and there was already some nice snow in the air.  Our group started off with Ty, Dylan, and Luke, and while Claire worked on organizational issues like Ethan forgetting to bring his skis and Sam having his skis taken by accident by someone with an identical pair, I took the boys for a run.  With plenty of untracked powder in the lesser used areas off piste, it was a great day to jump into the trees and get Luke more experience in there.  The boys gobbled up the fresh snow in the Upper Meadows trees, and Luke not only got some good tree skiing experience, but some practice extricating himself through a brushy exit.  Jack joined us next, and I brought all four boys through the Meadows East Glades.  The main lines were tracked or packed, but boy there was still plenty of fresh powder all outside the formal glades.  Even at that point before the subsequent pair of bigger synoptic storms, Stowe’s snow depths were getting to the stage where many of the natural tree areas open up just like the glades because the brush has been buried under the snowpack.


Claire continued to work out program issues, so I headed to the Sensation Quad with the boys.  From fairly light snow at the base of Sensation, we ascended into quite a winter wonderland as more vigorous snow and some winds quickly greeted us on the ascent.  The conifers were caked in snow just as if we were in the middle of a larger storm cycle, and Powderfreak had some great shots of the intense snowfall.  We kept gawking at the awesome powdery routes below us on Spruce Line, and lamented the fact that it was closed, whether due to coverage or the race that was taking place on Main Street.  I vowed that if those race or coverage issues were gone by the following week, we would definitely be hitting that terrain.  Even more than the main routes of Spruce Line, I was drooling over the steep shots dropping off the Main Street traverse into the evergreen glades that had been created alongside the trail.  I’m not sure if I just forget that this terrain exists every season, or if they keep improving it, but I’m immediately reminded of Red Mountain in British Columbia.  I couldn’t find any images of what I’m recalling in my collection, but runs like Cambodia and Short Squaw come to mind.


All the boys were excited to work on Whirlaway, and along with that we gradually found ourselves getting into the various Whirlaway and Sterling chutes and tree areas that seem to pop up everywhere.  After one of our Sensation runs, we met Karen’s group as they were climbing back up from the Sensation base toward Easy Street, and we were able to help them with their gear.  If the kids don’t have the energy left to make a big run from the top of Spruce, it requires climbing out from the Sensation base, and that’s tough with a group of little ones and gear.  We also caught up with Claire at that point though, and she joined us for another round of Whirlaway, Sterling, and the associated chutes and woods.  We eventually worked our way over to Upper Smugglers as we finally departed the Sensation area, but we never even left Spruce Peak all afternoon; it had just been so great over there and we couldn’t wait to get back next Sunday.


That evening I posted an update to with comments on the weather that we continued to find after skiing:


“Snowfall was steady but light at the base of the mountain when we left around 5:00 P.M., and we then stopped in at Morrisville, where the snowfall was even a bit more intense. Driving home, the snow tapered way down in the Stowe Village and Waterbury Center areas, but picked up quickly once we hit Colbyville, and intensified right through Waterbury and on to the house. We had some nice big fat (upslope-style) flakes falling when I took my observations, although that has slowed down now. There was another 0.6 inches on the board as of ~8:00 P.M., so this shortwave has given us more accumulation that yesterday’s, even though this one was supposedly weaker. A lot of the accumulation is due to the big flakes though.”


The following morning things were looking very good in terms of Northern Vermont actually getting in on their first notable synoptic snowfall, so I commented and added some of the maps from the National Weather Service:


“The BTV NWS office has started to generate some graphics for the upcoming midweek storm. Currently, the entire state is under a winter storm watch, and based on their graphics, the forecast for our area looks to be close to 18 inches of accumulation through Thursday morning. I see that Powderfreak already posted the main accumulations map, but I’ve added in the VT zoom sections below as well.”