January 12th, 2012 – Waterbury Winter Weather Event Updates


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



Saturday, January 7th, 2012



View PostCT Rain, on 7 January 2012 - 05:11 PM, said:

The Euro is a dream come true for NNE. Snow and mixed precip with the Thursday storm, a Miller-B late bloomer on Friday with terrific upslope in the Greens, followed by an overperformer of a clipper on MLK day.


Yeah, it’s nice to hear about that potential – it sure looked like a decent amount of snow on the ECMWF to me, but I haven’t heard much in the way of positive comments from PF yet, so it’s hard to tell if it’s not convincing to the trained eye or if it’s appropriate professional conservatism.  I’ve heard multiple comparisons to that December 27th & 28th event, and that was a big snowpack gain even down here in the valley.  With the current base depths, another round of something like that would definitely put additional natural snow terrain in play and bolster the stuff that is already open.



Tuesday, January 10th, 2012



With regard to the Thursday system, I heard the forecast from Bob Minsenberger first this morning, and was surprised to hear him as gung ho on this system as he was.  He was calling for accumulations of 1 to 3 inches of snow with some mixing west of the Greens, and 3 to 6 inches east of the Greens comprised of mostly snow, with higher totals in the mountains.  Roger Hill had a forecast similar to yesterday; he emphasized the mixing more, but mentioned 2 to 6 inches for the area, and again felt that better accumulations would be toward the northern tier of the state.  When I checked out this morning’s 00Z run of the ECMWF, it was certainly the most robust I’ve seen in terms of snow in this area out of the past few, there seemed to be that dry slot in there, but around here it had the snow falling for most of the 48-hour period from 10:00 A.M. EST Thursday to 10:00 A.M. EST Saturday.  We’ll just have to see how things change over the next 48 hours, and there is actually a little snow to think about today as well.



View Postpowderfreak, on 10 January 2012 - 02:10 PM, said:

I'd probably go 8:1 and no higher than 10:1 ratios for this. Now the upper level low is a whole other story following that H85 -10C line in. That upper level low stuff is usually fluff on top of the dense synoptic snows.


Even with crummy ratios or sleet, that the usual “right side up” combination that makes for great days on the mountain – put down the dense material to cover up the areas that need it and smooth out the imperfections, then bring on the fluff.  The December 27th-28th storm did this to some degree, but the more frozen the better.  We’ve really not had many of these yet this season (obviously, with the lack of synoptic storms), so if this one works out that way it would be great for the slopes – you get the immediate return of a good day in the fluff, with the long-term reward of base building.



Wednesday, January 11th, 2012



I managed to catch the on-air forecasts from Bob Minsenberger, Mark Breen, and Roger Hill this morning, and the general consensus for this area in the upcoming event was a start tomorrow morning, a general 2 to 6 inches of snow east of the Greens with spots up to 8 inches for the higher elevations.  That’s followed by a dry slot later in the day extending into Thursday night/Friday, and then the second round of snow on Friday with 2 to 4 inches in the valleys and notably more in the mountains due to the upslope.  Bob Minsenberger was the only one that threw out a guess on the sum total for the whole big event, but his estimate was a foot to a foot and half of snow for the Greens.  Reading the forecast discussion of the BTV NWS, it sounds like they have similar thoughts; the point forecast for here tomorrow is 3 to 7 inches with a Winter Weather Advisory in place.  The latest BTV advisory and snow estimate maps are below:







View Postadk, on 11 January 2012 - 08:38 AM, said:

J-Spin- I too went with some spots getting 18 or so when this all over. That upslope period will be pretty solid.


Thx adksbos_wx was inquiring last night about the upslope potential with regard to his Bolton ski plans – I figured you or Powderfreak would be the guys to respond with the latest thoughts.  I’ll let him know to check in here.  Are you planning to do any updates to your thoughts at Famous Internet Skiers? – I’ll refer him there as well regardless. 



View Postsbos_wx, on 11 January 2012 - 03:00 AM, said:

Reading about this ULL. My original plans were to leave about 3am and drive to Bolton Thursday Morning and leave that night. Now people are talking about an upslope smoking on Friday. So naturally I should wait until Friday? Are you guys sure the upslope is going to be impressive on Friday yet?

It sounds like the upslope snow is still on track -
adk responded in the NNE thread to my post this morning and said he's going with totals topping out around 18".  You can check in at adk's website for his latest weather thoughts (not sure if he is going to do an update there today), but I figure he and/or Powderfreak will update here or in the NNE thread at some point if things change.



View Postadk, on 11 January 2012 - 09:09 AM, said:

I have a full write up at FIS.
The upslope potential is there for sure. I'm going with 5-8 overall upslope for Bolton.
Thinking 5-6 front end, 5-8 back end.


Thx adk, I passed along the link to your write up in the main storm thread, so hopefully he’ll get a chance to see it.



I see that BTV updated their storm total snowfall forecast map from this morning; it seems more in line with what our point forecast says now.  I’ve added the old (top) and new (bottom) maps below:







View PostPyroCu, on 11 January 2012 - 10:11 AM, said:

The "old" map was a technical error. The current map represents the snowfall expected with the winter weather advisory (effective through 7pm Thursday). There will be additional snowfall Friday, but the graphic is meant to represent the snowfall for the advisory period. There are other ways to see the snowfall forecast for Friday, including the "hourly weather graph" available as a link from the NWS point and click pages.


Thanks for the info, I figured it was a technical issue like that with the first map going all the way through Friday and containing numbers inconsistent with other parts of the forecast, so I posted the updated map as soon as I saw it.  Also, that hourly weather graph option for the chosen location is great – I hadn’t really used it before, but I pasted one below for Mt. Mansfield for those that haven’t seen what the output looks like:





View Postadk, on 11 January 2012 - 05:16 PM, said:

Don't think friday is the day.


Agreed - Friday is really the dry slot day.  One can actually make use of the hourly weather graph type of format that I posted above (mine cuts off Friday at midnight, but you can set it for a different 48-hour chunk and watch the upslope keep going).  My call for the most fun in the fresh stuff would be Thursday afternoon/evening, and then Saturday morning onward.  Things should be fun right from the get go with this system on Thursday though; it’s not like the mountains are recovering from a thaw-freeze event or anything.  Non-manmade surfaces are nice and soft at most elevations, just like PF, adk, and I mentioned in our Stowe reports from the weekend.  Things should really just be going from good to great, although if sbos_wx can change around his ski trip timing a bit he might get more optimal conditions (and get to experience some of the upslope snowfall if he also wants that).  Friday could be fine, or it could be a bit more “meh” depending on how the dry slot period plays out.



View Postsbos_wx, on 11 January 2012 - 05:56 PM, said:

Lol im getting close to just canceling this trip. I think you all forget it becomes weekend prices.


I figured, just didn't know if Thursday afternoon/PM was an option - but for that part of the event you could be just as well off or even better at somewhere closer or over in that area of ME/NH that is expected to get the good shot of snow from the front end of the storm.



Thursday, January 12th, 2012



Snow started up here in Waterbury right around 6:00 A.M.


Sky=Light Snow (2-6 mm flakes)

The web cam is running out back for online monitoring of accumulations in that area; large vertical block = 3” demarcations; small angled block = 2” demarcations



As of 5:30 P.M. here in Waterbury we’d received 3.7” of snow comprised of 0.34” of liquid (10.9:1 ratio, 9.2% H2O).  Since then we’ve had another tenth of an inch of snow with tonight’s light snow activity.



Event totals: 3.7” Snow/0.34” L.E.


It started snowing right around 6:00 A.M. this morning in Waterbury, and there was probably a half inch of accumulation when I left an hour or so later.  Just a few miles west though, the snow really tapered off, and there was little if anything falling in Jonesville, Richmond, and Burlington.  It eventually started snowing in Burlington though, and there was about a half inch of accumulation when I left around 5:00 P.M.  Back at the house at 5:30 P.M. I found 3.7 inches of snow on the snowboard, it seemed fairly dense but it was still sub 10% H2O.


Since there was new snow, temperatures were good, and the wind had generally let up, we headed up to Bolton for a few runs this evening.  They were reporting 4 inches of new snow and that seemed about right based on what we encountered.  Conditions were already decent, so even though this was just a modest front end dump (probably in the range of 0.3” to 0.4” of liquid like we had down here) it really sweetened things up.  An example of just how much effect this snow had was the fact that people were poaching Spillway (and often getting in trouble with patrol it seemed).  Spillway has got a ridiculous amount of detritus on it, so when we heard that it was being poached we though people were nuts, but once we saw it when we headed to the upper mountain, we could see why.  The coverage looked really impressive, it actually looked like a lot of fun and I almost wondered if they’d blow snow on it.  I just don’t think they did because they are focusing their snowmaking efforts elsewhere.  This front end dump is already going to get some additional terrain open because there was plenty that was close, and if some decent upslope comes in that could help a little more.  One of the lift operators we knew also said that the resort is planning to potentially open Timberline on Saturday.  I’m not sure if they are counting on additional snow or if it’s good to go right now once they blast the base area with snow.  I added a couple of shots from this evening below:






Here’s the north to south list of what I’ve seen reported by some of the Vermont Ski areas that have appear to have done afternoon/evening updates:


Burke: 4”

Smuggler’s Notch: 5”

Stowe: 3”

Bolton Valley: 4”

Sugarbush: 5”

Suicide Six: 4”

Pico: 7”

Killington: 7”

Stratton: 7”

Mount Snow: 6”


Some details from the 5:30 P.M. Waterbury observations are below:


New Snow: 3.7 inches

New Liquid: 0.34 inches

Snow/Water Ratio: 10.9

Snow Density: 9.2% H2O

Temperature: 31.1 F

Sky: Light Snow (1-6 mm flakes)

Snow at the stake: 8.5 inches



Friday, January 13th, 2012



Event totals: 3.8” Snow/0.35” L.E.


There was an additional tenth of an inch of snow on the snowboard this morning; it was again fairly dense, coming in at a synoptic-like 10% H2O similar to what we received during the day yesterday.  I’ve updated the north to south list of snow totals to the latest values I’ve seen reported by the Vermont ski areas.  It’s been a little tricky with regard to the 24/48-hour snow totals, but in general accumulations seem to be around a half a foot up and down the spine:


Jay Peak: 7”

Burke: 5”

Smuggler’s Notch: 5”

Stowe: 4”

Bolton Valley: 5”

Mad River Glen: 6”

Sugarbush: 7”

Suicide Six: 6”

Pico: 7”

Killington: 7”

Okemo: 6”

Bromley: 5”

Magic Mountain: 6”

Stratton: 7”

Mount Snow: 6”


The next round of winter weather advisories is up for the area, with the point and click forecast calling for 4 to 8 inches at our location.  I’ve added the latest advisories and storm total snow forecast maps from BTV below:






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


New Snow: 0.1 inches

New Liquid: 0.01 inches

Snow/Water Ratio: 10.0

Snow Density: 10% H2O

Temperature: 32.7 F

Sky: Cloudy

Snow at the stake: 8.0 inches



View PostSnow Bow, on 13 January 2012 - 02:08 AM, said:

That second picture is great Jspin. Love when the evergreens get buried with snow like that.


Indeed, I love that too – my son had stopped in that spot, and with those trees all lit up like that by the night skiing lights I told him to freeze so I could get a picture.  He also asked me to check the depth of the snow there with my measurement pole, and it actually went down 17 inches before it hit the base snow.  That’s up around the 3,000’ elevation, but I’m not too surprised after how well the powder on the upper mountain seemed to be preserved when we were out on Saturday.  Hopefully we’ll get some additional snowy images with the anticipated upslope snow.



View Postpowderfreak, on 13 January 2012 - 07:55 AM, said:

Sometimes I wonder if my using the snow board leads to us getting hosed in marketing during some of these events, but I only report what I get on the boards. I did find this last year, too... in the minor fluff events our reports are in line with everyone, but in these bigger storms it seems like the collective can sometimes cause each other to try and "one up" their neighbor. That's why I always like Bolton's reports because they seem quite accurate based on what I see on Mansfield. Another county north here along the spine, it makes sense that we got an inch less than Bolton given higher QPF south and east.


I wasn’t surprised to see the Bolton and Stowe numbers come in with another inch once all was said and done yesterday – we picked up 3.8” down at the house, so for Bolton to have only 4” at 3,000’+ just a few miles away seemed a little low – the 5” reported now is more like what I would expect.  And 4 to 5 inches seemed perfectly reasonable based on what we skied last night.



We were back out at the mountain on Saturday as well, and it was great to see all the kids out there in their classes.  My friend’s son is in the Mountain Explorers program, and in talking to one of the coordinators, I guess it turns out that registration has been good, with waiting lists for some of the classes. Bolton got 5 inches from the first part of the current storm – we headed up for a few turns last night and it was really nice.  They’ve been gradually opening more trails, but this storm will really help speed that up.  I’m excited to see what the back side of the system brings; it’s snowing right now here in Burlington, so that means the cold air must be working its way into the area!



We had some rain earlier today, but now the precipitation is over to snow here in Burlington and it’s coming down at a pretty vigorous pace with big flakes up to an inch or so in diameter – visibility is probably ½ mile.



I grabbed the updated graphics from the BTV website – notable changes look to be the addition of the winter storm warnings in Northern New York on the advisories map, and a bump in expected totals over that way.  Also, on the snow forecast map a little of that electric violet color has shown up in the Northern Greens:







View Postpowderfreak, on 13 January 2012 - 04:33 PM, said:

So did Bolton and Smuggs only get 2-3" or was it 5" plus 2-3"? It is very odd to see both of those resorts sort of back-track on their snowfall accumulations. J.Spin, do you have any inside info on what Bolton has received so far this storm?

Edit nevermind, I'm an idiot. Their storm total is also 5-7" in the past 72 hours. Same as us. That makes sense. 24 hours ago is when the dryslot moved in so they probably picked up 2" today.


Yeah, you got it PF, Bolton had 5” yesterday, then the Dryslot, and then 2” more today by some point this morning.  So that’s at least 7, but with the way the western slopes are getting hammered, I’m sure it’s more than that now.  It is sometimes tough figuring out what’s gone on with all the resort’s snow reports, when I try to put the summary lists together, but I just do the best I can with what seems to make sense.  We’ve actually been getting hit pretty hard with snow here in the Burlington area; I’m on the bus right now and it’s nonstop talk by all the drivers as they share which roads are doing the best – we’re actually taking Route 2 right now as recommended by some of the other drivers because I guess there are issues on French Hill on I-89.  It should be nice as this moisture crashes into the wall of the Greens:





Check out that cool wall of 30 db echoes coming into Burlington, pretty neat:





Event totals: 6.7” Snow/0.70” L.E.


Traveling through Burlington and Williston this evening, it was really snowing with big flakes, but once we got east of the mountains that really tapered off.  It was hardly snowing when I arrived at the Waterbury Park and Ride – my car had just a crusty layer from the mixed precipitation with only about ¾” of fluff on it.  The intensity of the snowfall picked up substantially just driving a couple west miles into the mountains though, and I found 2.9” of snow on the snowboard at the house.  The snow that was falling was quite dry, but the slush on the bottom of the core (from the mixed precipitation earlier today) brought the density up to 12.1% H2O for the whole sample.  At the time I cleared the board, the flakes weren’t all that big, and the snowfall rate was only moderate or so, but over the past half hour it has really been coming down with big, upslope-style flakes – by watching it accumulate on the snowboard I can see that it is falling at a rate of around 2”/hr.  I checked out the radar and there’s a large area of 30 db echoes running into this part of the spine:




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


New Snow: 2.9 inches

New Liquid: 0.35 inches

Snow/Water Ratio: 8.3

Snow Density: 12.1% H2O

Temperature: 26.2 F

Sky: Moderate Snow

Snow at the stake: 10.5 inches



View PostJ.Spin, on 13 January 2012 - 08:39 PM, said:

by watching it accumulate on the snowboard I can see that it is falling at a rate of around 2”/hr.

Actually, that estimate was a little low; I just checked, and 2.8 inches of snow fell in the past hour.  That's pretty intense snowfall, even for here in upslope country.



View Postpowderfreak, on 13 January 2012 - 07:18 PM, said:

Winter Storm Warning for the west slopes now.


Thanks for the update PF, hadn’t stopped in at the NWS page for a while.  It’s not too surprising though with ~3”/hr here, it could be even more intense is some of those favored west slope spots.  Accumulations happen pretty fast at those snowfall rates, and driving can be quite difficult.  Bolton has probably been taking quite a pounding tonight.  I’ve added the updated BTV graphics below; the electric violet color for 6 to 8 inches extends down the spine now, and there a little of that more magenta/fuchsia color for 8 to 10 inches up north:







Saturday, January 14th, 2012



Event totals: 11.6” Snow/0.91” L.E.


I cleared the snowboard and made a set of midnight observations, but I just headed off to bed after that, so I’m sending those in with the 6:00 A.M observations this morning.  The 6:00 P.M. to 12:00 A.M. shot of snow came in at 5.1% H2O, and the snow was still getting fluffier.  This morning was actually one of those occasions where my elevated snowboard was affected by the wind; as usual there’s actually not much wind down here (5 MPH or so), but the 12:00 A.M. to 6:00 A.M. snow was so dry (~1% H2O) that all it takes is a whisper of wind to disturb it and blow some off the board.  Thus I had to do those analyses off of one of my ground-based snowboards.  With this morning’s accumulation, this event became the largest of the year at this location, besting the 11.0-inch Thanksgiving event.  The total snowfall down here thus far is 11.6 inches, and up above us on the mountain at Bolton, it looks like the storm total is 15 inches.  I’ve added the storm totals for the Vermont ski areas that I’ve seen update so far below; I’ll update these later when resorts report/revise:


Jay Peak: 19”

Smuggler’s Notch: 15”

Stowe: 18”

Bolton Valley: 15”

Mad River Glen: 16”

Sugarbush: 16”

Pico: 14”

Killington: 14”

Mount Snow: 17”



12:00 A.M. Waterbury observations:


New Snow: 3.9 inches

New Liquid: 0.20 inches

Snow/Water Ratio: 19.5

Snow Density: 5.1% H2O

Temperature: 26.2 F

Sky: Flurries

Snow at the stake: 13.0 inches


6:00 A.M. Waterbury observations:


New Snow: 1.0 inches

New Liquid: 0.01 inches

Snow/Water Ratio: 100.0

Snow Density: 1.0% H2O

Temperature: 13.6 F

Sky: Flurries

Snow at the stake: 11.5 inches



Event totals: 11.7” Snow/0.91” L.E.


We picked up another tenth of an inch of snow today at our location, to finish off the event at 11.7”, and bring the season snowfall to 54.0”.  The temperature was around 10 F at the house (495’) mid morning, and we headed up to Bolton Valley where the temperature in the village (2,100’) was 3 F.  That’s pretty chilly, but fortunately there was minimal wind and it was at least manageable – we’d brought hand and boot warmer packets for the boys, and they decided that they needed fire them up after their first run.  The new snow was nice; there were some effects of the wind in that we saw some drifting, but the winds couldn’t have been that bad because we only encountered minimal wind slab around on the powder.  I noticed that the Mt. Mansfield Stake was up to 34” today; that looks to be about 8” below average, but the snowpack is at least getting there thanks to this last event.  Up at Bolton I was able to get a reading on the snowpack in a protected spot in the Villager Trees, and it was at 30 inches.




Some details from the 2:00 P.M. Waterbury observations are below:


New Snow: 0.1 inches

New Liquid: Trace

Temperature: 12.4 F

Sky: Partly Cloudy

Snow at the stake: 11.0 inches



View PostJ.Spin, on 14 January 2012 - 08:08 AM, said:

I’ve added the storm totals for the Vermont ski areas that I’ve seen update so far below; I’ll update these later when resorts report/revise:


Now that the rest of the Vermont ski areas have reported in, I’ve updated the storm totals below.  I checked all the resort websites for their numbers and comments, although for some places that don’t really supply the 48-hour numbers, I had to go with the Ski Vermont numbers.  Jay Peak must have reassessed their measurement because it went up a few inches and is close to the two foot mark:


Jay Peak: 23”

Burke: 12”

Smuggler’s Notch: 15”

Stowe: 18”

Bolton Valley: 15”

Mad River Glen: 16”

Sugarbush: 18”

Middlebury: 13”

Suicide Six: 8”

Pico: 14”

Killington: 14”

Okemo: 8”

Bromley: 10”

Magic Mountain: 12”

Stratton: 12”

Mount Snow: 11”



View PostGinx, on 14 January 2012 - 10:57 AM, said:

Chris M is there and concurs a foot down
from JSPIN
Jay Peak: 19”Smuggler’s Notch: 15”Stowe: 18”Bolton Valley: 15”Mad River Glen: 16”Sugarbush: 16”Pico: 14”Killington: 14”Mount Snow: 17”


For Mount Snow I based the number on that text below their snow report table – it seemed like that was the storm total the way they wrote it:





View Postpowderfreak, on 14 January 2012 - 10:14 AM, said:

10" overnight, 12" last 24 hours at 1,500ft
12" overnight, 14" last 24 hours at 3,000ft


It looks like those are your SSE & SSW Smuggler’s Notch data in the storm totals PF – really cool to have data coming out of those mountain areas, you can see how they stand out among a lot of the data.  I added in the storm totals map and table for below for archiving in the thread:







View PostGinx, on 14 January 2012 - 09:16 AM, said:

AWT, congrats waist deep powdah day.


The shot below is from today at Bolton Valley – that’s on Telemark gear, but still, a pretty nice day:





Sunday, January 15th, 2012



Using my Waterbury snowfall data, I’ve been monitoring the snowfall progress at points this season, but planned to reassess at the 50” mark; it’s a good round number and is typically in the range of the ¼ mark for the season.  In the plot below I’ve got the snow totals through Jan 14 for ’07-’11 (blue gradient pattern bars) and ’12 (red bar).  Also shown is the mean value for those six seasons (green bar).  The error bar on the mean value represents one standard deviation (29.6”) for the data set.  Thus far, ’11-’12 snowfall at this location is certainly on the low side (~20” below the mean) but it is well within one S.D.  In fact all the seasons shown (even the high seasons of ‘07-‘08 and ‘08-‘09) essentially fall within that one S.D. window except ‘06-‘07, which is the real outlier up through January.  It wouldn’t be too hard for this season to make up some ground on the next closest season (‘09-‘10) because we’re currently only ~14” behind that one and only about 7” of snow fell in the entire second half of that month.  While ‘06-‘07 did have a nice finish, let’s be thankful we’re not there at this point.





Monday, January 16th, 2012



View Postadk, on 16 January 2012 - 08:12 AM, said:

I'll say that yesterday was the coldest environment I'd been in over a sustained period of time. The quad at stowe yesterday at around 8am was brutal. -15F with prob. 20-30 mph winds. Not good. Much better day for a tour...


Agreed adk – I watched the temperature at the base of Bolton Valley sit around -10 F during much of the morning yesterday, and had no desire to ride the lifts with the boys in those temperatures combined with wind:




I was going to head up for a quick powder run on Bolton’s BC Network, but realized that they haven’t started running the Timberline Quad yet (may not be for much longer based on the coverage), so I opted for a sunset tour there instead:






Temperatures had risen to around 0 F by that point and winds were minimal, but touring was the way to go in my mind.  The low here overnight was -15.3 F, certainly the lowest of the season thus far.  We’re thinking of heading to Stowe today, so hoping for that nice temperature rebound I see in the forecast.




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