February 3rd, 2012 – Waterbury Winter Weather Event Updates



Friday, February 3rd, 2012



Event totals: 1.0” Snow/0.01” L.E.


There was a surprise (to me) 1.0 inches of snow on the snowboard this morning, finally pushing the season’s snowfall total past the 70” mark that wasn’t quite reached by the end of January.  Once I got outside to have a look at the accumulation and take my snow cores, I knew the density was going to come in well under that 4-5% H2O range.  Indeed, the snow was down around 1% H2O, which is about as low a density as I’ll typically see during the season; that’s 99% air.


I didn’t think that we’d get into new snow until later today, but in their recent forecast discussions, the BTV NWS says that the combination of northwest flow and moisture trapped under the inversion is giving us the fluff.  The radar seemed to be just catching that moisture stacked up along the west slopes of the Northern Greens, and there is another area of precipitation building in from the northwest: 



Perhaps the next impulses of moisture will lead to some of the snowfall that the NWS mentions in their latest forecast discussion synopsis:





I can see here on the UVM campus that Burlington similarly picked up some of this very fluffy champagne, although it’s substantially less than an inch.


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


New Snow: 1.0 inches

New Liquid: 0.01 inches

Snow/Water Ratio: 100.0

Snow Density: 1.0% H2O

Temperature: 13.3 F

Sky: Light Snow (10-15 mm flakes)

Snow at the stake: 9.0 inches



View Postpowderfreak, on 2 February 2012 - 11:24 AM, said:

Snowing lightly here in the village now...these flakes are so lazy and fall so slowly I would be interested to know just how long it takes them to hit the surface out of the clouds. It takes them like a minute to fall 20 feet.


Yeah, a good example of the sort of magical atmospheric conditions it takes to get those accumulations of 100 to 1 snow; even snowflakes falling at more typical velocities would have enough kinetic energy to compress such delicate stacks of dendrites.  It’s too bad I didn’t have time to get some pictures this morning – I’ll have to try to get some shots with the individual flakes like that one you posted a little while back.


View Postpowderfreak, on 2 February 2012 - 05:00 PM, said:

Its an edge-able smooth surface that's not glare ice like the past thaw. Skiing today was awesome... so much better than expected and there was more like 3-4" up high of fresh, dense snow. I skied the woods all afternoon long. I'm still shocked at how good that was. The expert bump runs were smooth, filled in with dense snow. Amazing what dense, graupel filled snow does to the ski conditions. If it were light fluffy powder today would've been different but it wasn't... it was probably 8:1 or 10:1 ratio snow, not 40:1 fluff.

Mansfield pulls off another awesome recovery. It still boggles my mind how much snow the upper elevations on that mountain get.


That’s great to hear PF; Mansfield has been blowing my mind the past few weeks with its ability to offer up not just acceptable, but pretty darned good conditions even by Northern Vermont standards.  The rounds of fluff today/tonight can only help, even if liquid equivalent isn’t all that prodigious.  The slopes are really primed and ready with that well substantiated base and a decent surface – if we can get into a train of storm cycles without the continuous warm air intrusions, conditions are really going to go off.



View Postpowderfreak, on 3 February 2012 - 04:39 PM, said:

Some photos from today... not "epic" but d@mn good considering it was pouring 48 hours ago. This mountain recovers nicely, haha.


Thanks for the pics PF, these are days when super fatties can really help with the floating on what’s available.  Let’s keep these rounds of Champlain Powder™ coming and the conditions will only get better in areas that don’t get overly abused by skier traffic.


Event update:  it started snowing here in Burlington about 15 minutes ago or so; it’s very light at this point but it’s starting to pick up at times, and if we’re getting it here, then the mountains are either into it already or soon will be.



Saturday, February 4th, 2012



Event totals: 3.2” Snow/0.10” L.E.


This has even been a decent event down here in the valley at this point, with total accumulation topping 3”, and the overnight push of snow really substantiating the liquid equivalent.  I ran an analysis off the snowboard last night at 10:00 P.M. before heading off to bed, and the snow was still that ultra light fluff in the 1-2% H2O range.  This morning though, there was another 1.6” on the snowboard, and it was immediately obvious that it had a lot more liquid in it.  At 5% H2O it’s still quite dry by most people’s standards, but that jump from 1-2% H2O to 5% H2O is huge; for example, the first 1.6” of snow from this event contained ~0.02” of liquid, while the next 1.6” contained 0.08” of liquid.  Depending on how things fell on the slopes, the snow is a bit “upside down”, but it’s all so dry that it probably won’t have any effect on the turns.  The most important thing in terms of the skiing is getting as much liquid equivalent as possible on the old base to soften things up.


I’ve added the north to south list of snow reports from the Vermont ski areas for this event, using the 48 or 72-hour snow totals if available.  Smugg’s only provides the 24-hour snowfall total, so that may need an update.  The north to south trend with this event is very visible:


Jay Peak: 5”

Burke: 3”

Smuggler’s Notch: 4”

Stowe: 6”

Bolton Valley: 5”

Mad River Glen: 2”

Sugarbush: 2”

Pico: 1”

Killington: 1”

Okemo: 0”

Bromley: 0”

Magic Mountain: 0”

Stratton: 0”

Mount Snow: 0”


Some details from the 10:00 P.M. and 6:00 A.M. Waterbury observations are below:


10:00 P.M.

New Snow: 0.6 inches

New Liquid: 0.01 inches

Snow/Water Ratio: 60.0

Snow Density: 1.7% H2O

Temperature: 28.2 F

Sky: Light Snow (3-12 mm flakes)

Snow at the stake: 9.0 inches


6:00 A.M.

New Snow: 1.6 inches

New Liquid: 0.08 inches

Snow/Water Ratio: 20.0

Snow Density: 5.0% H2O

Temperature: 23.9 F

Sky: Light Snow (1-4 mm flakes)

Snow at the stake: 10.0 inches



Event totals: 3.4” Snow/0.10” L.E.


We picked up a final couple of tenths of an inch of snow this morning, as the weather moved into sunshower mode.


View Postpowderfreak, on 4 February 2012 - 01:45 PM, said:

Man the skiing is great, the sun is out now... brochure day at Stowe.

The 9 day stretch has seen 19" at 1,549ft...and 29" at 3,014ft. Acceptable.


Acceptable indeed; we headed up to Bolton in the afternoon, and the Northern Greens have done it again.  Upper 20s F with powder and sun this afternoon:



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


New Snow: 0.2 inches

New Liquid: Trace

Temperature: 29.7 F

Sky: Clear

Snow at the stake: 10.0 inches



Monday, February 6th, 2012



I just finished listening to the morning weather broadcasts, and it looks like a fairly quite week for Northern Vermont with just a couple of minor snow events.  There’s one round of snow coming through tonight into tomorrow, and then another one expected for Friday.  If these storms do their usual thing with the mountains, that would be great, since Roger Hill said that he doesn’t see any major warm air intrusions on the horizon.  It would be nice to have the new snow go right into enhancement instead of recovery from firm conditions.  The off piste and backcountry are already offering up excellent powder turns, so any additional rounds of snow will only enhance that.  Roger also said that we have definitely undergone a pattern change (I guess the lack of an anticipated mixed system or two this week is a testament to that), which will only have minor events for now, but does hold the potential for some bigger systems down the road.  The base (both snow and skier) is definitely ready for some bigger dumps, and it would be nice to build for spring.  I haven’t finished processing all my images from the weekend yet, but I added another shot from Saturday below – conditions on natural snow terrain are excellent all the way down to that 1,500’-2,000’ elevation range, even if some tall grass is still poking through in spots:




View Postpowderfreak, on 6 February 2012 - 08:06 AM, said:

WRF really lights up the Jay Peak area prior to 6z tonight, then as the front sags south the rest of the Greens get in on some snowfall.

Seeing 0.1-0.25" with localized greater than 0.25" QPF, could be another nice refresher from after midnight tonight through around midday tomorrow. It looks like here in WSW Lamoille County down through J.Spin we are in the 0.1-0.25" range with 0.25-0.5" over Mansfield proper.

Thanks for the update PF, it's going to be really nice seeing this put down on top of the current fluff instead of having to mend some sort of “crustification” layer.  Hopefully the Greens will do their usual best to wring out whatever is available.



Tuesday, February 7th, 2012



Flurries were falling this morning with just a trace of accumulation on the snowboard, but there’s nothing other than that to pass along from the house at this point.  There is certainly some visible precipitation building in from the northwest on the radar though:



After this event it sounds like the middle of the week will be pretty dry, before more chances for snow move in around the weekend.  Roger Hill highlighted the next potential snowfall period as Friday/Saturday with the passage of that arctic front, and said that we’ll have to watch for Sunday/Monday if that upper level low settles over Quebec.


On a seasonal note, daylight is definitely moving along now.  It was a pleasant surprise to be able get all the way home on the Montpelier LINK and still have light in the sky; other folks commented on it as well, so there must have been a good jump in sunset time over the past several days.  With the daylight I was able to notice the dramatic change in snowpack as one heads east from the Burlington area into the Green Mountains.  Although quite low by typical February standards, the snowpack at the house has been fluctuating up and down a bit below a foot, but snow on the ground drops to zero pretty quickly west of the mountains.  At valley level, there’s nothing notable on the ground in Burlington, South Burlington, Williston, Richmond… and even Jonesville and Bolton.  It’s not until one hits Bolton Flats that there appears to be any sort of white on the ground, and in the span of a few miles it jumps up to the 6 to 12-inch range in Waterbury.  Seeing the snowpack gradient heading into the mountains isn’t all that atypical, but having nothing on the ground in Bolton is a sharper line than usual – yesterday’s Colorado-style winter weather may have burned off some of the thinner areas to make the snow line a bit more dramatic.




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