January 6th, 2012 – Waterbury Winter Weather Event Updates

 

 

Friday, January 6th, 2012

 

 

Event totals: 0.7” Snow/0.03” L.E.

 

We’ve got light snow falling this morning and another round of accumulation in association with the warm front of the Clipper system that is expected to pass to our north today/tomorrow.  The flakes are pretty small here, in the 1-2 mm range, so the snow isn't quite as fluffy as the stuff from yesterday's event.  Although there haven’t been any big systems this week, the three small systems coming through have certainly added to the snowpack in the valley, and it looks like they have helped to improve conditions on the slopes.

 

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

 

New Snow: 0.7 inches

New Liquid: 0.03 inches

Snow/Water Ratio: 23.3

Snow Density: 4.3% H2O

Temperature: 19.6 F

Sky: Light Snow (1-2 mm flakes)

Snow at the stake: 6.0 inches

 

 

Event totals: 0.9” Snow/0.03” L.E.

 

We picked up another couple of tenths of an inch of snow after the 6:00 A.M. clearing of the snowboard this morning.  I noticed a big disparity in temperatures today driving home from Burlington, where it was in the mid to upper 30s F around 5:30 P.M., and in Waterbury where it was actually below 30 F.  It was definitely one of those days where one see how areas east of the Greens can more easily hold onto the snowpack.

 

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

 

New Snow: 0.2 inches

New Liquid: Trace

Temperature: 30.1 F

Sky: Partly Cloudy

Snow at the stake: 5.5 inches

 

 

Saturday, January 7th, 2012

 

 

View Postpowderfreak, on 7 January 2012 - 05:42 AM, said:

I am having a hard time comprehending the temperature trends this morning.

4,000ft... 28F
2,500ft... 33F
1,600ft... 37F was low 40s a good chunk of the night... http://www.wundergro...sp?ID=KVTSTOWE3
800ft... 20F (was 17F at the time of 41F at 1,600ft based on MVL obs)

 

When I saw your mention of the 40s F this morning PF, I was worried that the powder from this week’s snowfall events was going to be ruined up at Bolton, but once I looked at the temperature graph from that station in the Village (~2,100’), I saw that it hovered around 35 F early this morning:

 

 

That didn’t seem too bad.  Once we headed out around 9:30 A.M. we found that there was a similar sort of crazy temperature profile around here today like you mentioned for Stowe – when we left the house (500’), the temperature was around freezing, but up at Bolton in the village (2,100’) it was 37 F, and then in the summit areas (3,000’+) it was below freezing.  On the upper half of the mountain above 2,500’ the temperatures never seemed to reach the freezing mark, so the snow stayed really nice and powdery.  Below the 2,500’ range though, the powder was getting a little thicker as the day wore on, but even that was decent.  Here’s a shot of Dylan from around 11:30 A.M. today at 2,700’:

 

 

At around 12:30 P.M. we started to get into some precipitation.  It looked like it might be rain, but it turned out to be frozen (at least where we were at 2,100’).  It seemed like sleet for a brief time, but then it gradually transitioned to all snow.  It was actually snowing pretty steadily for a while, especially up around 3,000’, but since the flakes were still rather small and often granular, I wouldn’t say that there was much more than a few tenths of an inch of accumulation.  It was a great day to be out though; it was extremely comfortable with temps a few degrees on either side of the freezing mark.  We’re not missing the cold weather in that regard at all, although I guess we should have it a bit cooler for better snow.

 

This evening we picked up a couple additional tenths of an inch of snow – a lot of it was graupel balls, and that’s actually the only reason I knew it was snowing because the graupel made some noise bouncing off the windows.

 

 

Event totals: 1.1” Snow/0.07” L.E.

 

It’s partly cloudy out there right now, so it seemed like a good point to clear the snowboard and tally up the liquid equivalent from today.  We’re still under the effects of the same Clipper that’s been traversing the area, so the above totals are for the whole event since yesterday.  The accumulation on the board this evening was slushy – either due to temperatures slightly above freezing or they may have been a little liquid precipitation.  Whatever the case, it consolidated the fluff on top of the snowpack down from where it was this morning.

 

Some details from the 10:00 P.M. observations are below:

 

New Snow: 0.2 inches

New Liquid: 0.04 inches

Snow/Water Ratio: 5.0

Snow Density: 20.0% H2O

Temperature: 32.9 F

Sky: Partly Cloudy

Snow at the stake: 4.5 inches

 

 

Monday, January 9th, 2012

 

 

View Postpowderfreak, on 8 January 2012 - 05:05 PM, said:

This morning was pretty nice with another 2.7" overnight on the snow board.

 

View Postadk, on 9 January 2012 - 12:18 AM, said:

PF's hood skied nicely all weekend long.

 

We were out at Stowe yesterday afternoon, and indeed there’s really not too much to complain about.  I was really worried when I heard PF mention some light rain in the lower elevations on Saturday, but it must have been pretty inconsequential - I probed depths in the middle elevations of Spruce Peak yesterday, and generally found 8 to 12 inches of loose powder before I hit a base layer.  As heinous as many of the main snowmaking trails are in terms of conditions, which is often par for the course most times in the season due to the combination of denser artificial snow and skier traffic, the quality of the natural snow terrain is really quite good… for anytime, anywhere.  Even on Sunday afternoon, we found that getting off the main trails in the middle elevations of Spruce Peak was just like PF showed in his pictures from earlier, really nice turns were available:

 

 

I brought the group of youngsters I was coaching to the open terrain above Meadows, and it was really fun – there were a couple inches of settled powder over the base, and it varied depending on wind, but it was pleasant skiing:

 

 

That’s natural snow, south-facing terrain right down near base, so you can’t get much more challenging for snow quality/retention.  You can see that there are still a few blades of tall grass sticking out here and there, but that’s really decent coverage for such a location with snowfall being substantially below average.  I can see why people are coming from all over the place to ski Stowe though, because the conditions are just like you’d expect to find in mid winter.  I traversed a bit to check out some untouched snow off to the side of the upper Switchback below the gondola, and heck, there was a foot of really nice, steep powder there over plenty of consolidated base.  If I hadn’t been coaching I’m sure that appropriate off piste explorations would have yielded some similarly impressive turns.

 

The main issue I saw yesterday was just that snowpack is still somewhat low, so getting into the trees (especially steep stuff) isn’t quite there for all locations yet.  With that said, the guy I coached our group with yesterday had been out exploring the Goatdive woods and environs (on his super fatties and being very cautious) on Saturday and had a good time.  I’m not recommending this of course, since he’s very familiar with all those lines from hiking them in the off season, but things are certainly getting close for that type of terrain.  The 26 inches of snowpack at the stake isn’t just 26 inches of fluff, there’s plenty of substance in there and as PF and I talked about earlier, that’s the snowpack depth where appropriate moderate-angle tree skiing gets going.  Just like I’ve seen at Bolton a few miles down the spine, Stowe is at that stage where one good storm will bring a ton of stuff on line.  But, isn’t that the way it seems to be anywhere as the season ramps up? - all we need is “that next good storm”.  I’d actually say that in terms of the alpine area, Stowe doesn’t absolutely “need” that perpetual next big synoptic storm with 1 to 2 inches of liquid.  The skiing is really good right now, so I’m very much on board with what PF said back during the holiday week about things being OK without a huge dump; the only real annoyance is a substantial rain event without backside replenishment.  I’ve seen the joking about a big rain event washing away the snow, but indeed as PF’s pictures would attest, Mansfield is way past that point where that would be an issue.

 

In his early morning broadcast today, Roger Hill said that things had definitely trended in the right direction for getting some snow out of the storm later this week, so hopefully it can be another one of those net gain systems for the slopes.

 

 

 

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