December 21st, 2012 – Waterbury Winter Weather Event Updates

 

 

Tuesday, December 18th, 2012

 

 

adk, on 18 Dec 2012 - 08:53 AM, said:https://www.amwx.us/public/style_images/American_Weather/snapback.png

 

Next saturday looks great too btw. Sure some rain on the front end...but the upslope signature sat thru monday is stellar.

 

Yeah, I saw that on the models, pretty cool.  I’d take this type of pattern with tainted storms any day of the week over watching systems head out to sea.  Dry and cold will never build the snowpack, but even with this less than optimal storm track, the mountain snowpack is building.  Heck, we’re even getting snow to fall down in the lowest mountain valleys, so the current setup can’t be considered that bad.  I actually really like these PNW-style days, it’s comfortable outside, and you know that mixed precipitation down low is probably dense snow falling in the high country to substantiate the base.  I like the look of the Mansfield point forecast; Thursday sort of sticks out like a sore thumb:

 

http://jandeproductions.com/2012/18DEC12A.jpg

 

 

powderfreak, on 18 Dec 2012 - 1:59 PM, said:https://www.amwx.us/public/style_images/American_Weather/snapback.png

 

Then it retrogrades it and it starts snowing again early/mid next week with more NW flow moisture... what a weenie run for the upslope regions. Sniffing out a big event?

 

Let’s hope; that would be great for the resorts during the holiday week - nothing like upslope to infuse some holiday spirit into the visitors.

 

 

Thursday, December 20th, 2012

 

 

powderfreak, on 20 Dec 2012 - 6:49 PM, said:https://www.amwx.us/public/style_images/American_Weather/snapback.png

 

If you count the upslope on Saturday, I don't see how this area doesn't come away with a net gain, at least at the ski resort from 1,500ft-4,000ft.

Still holding onto a crusty/firm 3" of snow here in town that's at least covering the grass... hopefully all the QPF locked up in that 3" of snow will give it some staying power against the rain tomorrow. Still think we can get away with a white Christmas in town, especially if upslope this weekend allows a couple inches to drift down into town.

 

Isn’t this storm just another one in the series like we’ve been getting, but with the potential for more upslope on the back end?  Each one of these systems seems to pound the mountains with dense snow; I think this week’s gains shown in the Mt. Mansfield snowpack plot below can attest to that.  The Mt. Mansfield graphical point forecast simplifies things of course, but it has just one precipitation block through Sunday that isn’t pure snow:

 

http://jandeproductions.com/2012/20DEC12B.jpg

 

I think we should definitely appreciate how good we have it to be right in the storm track and get all this precipitation.  Even down here at 500’ the snowpack is doing fine – it’s definitely consolidated down a bit, but it’s dense with a lot of liquid in there.  The Mt. Mansfield snowpack is up to 20” as of today – average appears to be ~28”, and I wouldn’t be surprised if we’re up near that average level after this next storm:

 

http://jandeproductions.com/2012/20DEC12A.jpg

 

This storm really looks like quite a beast on the national radar:

 

http://jandeproductions.com/2012/20DEC12A.gif

 

 

Friday, December 21st, 2012

 

 

Event totals: 2.2” Snow/0.25” L.E.

 

I found 2.2 inches of snow on the snowboard this morning, and it was comprised of a hefty 0.25 inches of liquid to come in at a Sierra-like 11.4% H2O.  The light snow that was falling has since wound down and we’re currently in a lull, but it sounds like the next round of precipitation will be along in a few hours.

 

Details from the 6:00 A.M. Waterbury observations:

 

New Snow: 2.2 inches

New Liquid: 0.25 inches

Snow/Water Ratio: 8.8

Snow Density: 11.4% H2O

Temperature: 33.3 F

Sky: Light Snow

Snow at the stake: 3.0 inches

 

 

In line with the 2.2” of new snow that I found at our place in the Winooski Valley this morning, Bolton Valley up above reported another 4” overnight in their snow report; that brings their 72-hour total to 10”, and their 7-day total to 19”, so it seemed like time to finally head up and see how things were skiing on the west slope.  When I left the house (495’) it was a couple degrees above freezing and we were in that early morning precipitation lull, but by the time I hit Bolton Flats a couple miles to the west, the next wave was coming in, so I was hit with a barrage of wet snow and rain.  Approaching the center of Bolton, there was essentially no snow on the ground at the base of the Bolton Valley Access Road (340’), but snowpack appears very quickly as you climb the road – just a couple hundred feet up from the valley bottom, a solid inch or two of snow was down on the ground.  The base of the road is fairly protected, but as I got higher I could see that the winds were howling.  With the strong winds I was keen to stay somewhat low, so my goal was to start a ski tour at the Timberline Base (1,500’) if the snow looked sufficient.  The temperature at that elevation was right around the freezing mark, but snow was falling with plenty of intensity – when I had my skis out on the ground while I was getting ready, they were covered with a few tenths of an inch of snow in just a few minutes.  The wind gusts were strong, certainly 20-30 MPH, and I actually had to head off into the trees a few dozen yards away when I realized that one of my gloves had been stolen and carted off by the wind. Indeed there’s plenty of snow down at Timberline now for earned turns; right behind the Timberline Lodge I measured depths anywhere from 5 to 18 inches depending on wind, with a couple inches of that being new.  That bottom number seemed to increase a bit as I went higher in elevation.  The snow was dense down at the Timberline Base, but it dried out as you increased in elevation – by the 1,700’ or 1,800’ elevation it was already noticeably drier.  There’s definitely not enough base yet to open terrain to lift-served traffic down at that elevation, but it’s getting close.  The snow that’s down there is dense, so one good dump with an inch or two of liquid equivalent would have it there.  On that note, it’s not surprising that the upper mountain above 2,000’ does appear to have enough snow to open natural terrain, because I see that the resort has opened numerous natural snow trails now, including several black diamond runs on the upper mountain.  That is a very good sign that snow depths are substantial up there.

 

We’ve actually got lots of blue sky here in Burlington right now, as we appear to be in a hole in the precipitation shield:

 

http://jandeproductions.com/2012/21DEC12A.gif

 

 

I drove from Burlington to Waterbury in the mid afternoon period today, so I’ll pass along some temperature and snowpack observations from the area.  In Burlington the temperature was 47 F and there was no sign of any snow in the ground.  In fact, I didn’t see a single trace of snow until I got to Jonesville, where the only snow that remained was some old plow piles at the main town junction with the bridge.  Beyond that, traces of old snow from drifted areas began to appear right in the town of Bolton, and they began to get a little more numerous through Bolton Flats, but even at the far east end of Bolton Flats there’s essentially nothing for snow cover.  The snow cover then starts to build as one rises past the Bolton/Waterbury line, and eventually you get to full cover except for south facing slopes.  Here at the house we’ve got 1-2” of snow on the ground, down a bit from the 3” that I recorded this morning.  Boy was it pouring once I got into the mountains this afternoon – I’m sure some places received much more, but there’s another 0.70” of liquid here in the rain gauge to add to the 0.25” from the snow this morning.  Another notable change through the trip were the temperatures, which stayed up near 46-47 F for almost the entire route, before falling quickly once I approached the east side of the Greens.  It was 40 F when I arrived at home, so quite a difference from areas to the west despite minimal elevation change.  It’s 36 F now here at the house, and the current point forecast says 11:00 P.M. range for the change back to snow, although there’s not much accumulation called for until tomorrow.

 

The snow depth at the Mt. Mansfield stake is up a couple inches to 22” from the front end of this system.

 

 

Saturday, December 22nd, 2012

 

 

Event totals: 2.3” Snow/0.95” L.E.

 

It looks like snow had just started prior to my morning observations, with a tenth of an inch found on the snowboard, but recently it has really ramped up in intensity – presumably in association with that band of 30-35 db echoes that just crashed through the area:

 

http://jandeproductions.com/2012/22DEC12A.gif

 

When I went to check the result on the snowboard, my wife said it had just been squalling very hard outside, and it dropped about a half inch of snow in the span of a few minutes.  Hopefully there will be more of that today.  The point forecast actually calls for less than a half inch of snow during the day today, but I think we’re going to get at least that since we’ve had 0.6” this morning already.  I’ve added the latest advisory and accumulations maps, and the advisory text below:

 

http://jandeproductions.com/2012/22DEC12A.jpg

 

http://jandeproductions.com/2012/22DEC12B.jpg

 

URGENT - WINTER WEATHER MESSAGE

NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE BURLINGTON VT

335 AM EST SAT DEC 22 2012

 

VTZ003-006-008-016>019-222100-

/O.CON.KBTV.WW.Y.0016.121222T1200Z-121223T1200Z/

ORLEANS-LAMOILLE-WASHINGTON-EASTERN FRANKLIN-EASTERN CHITTENDEN-

EASTERN ADDISON-EASTERN RUTLAND-

INCLUDING THE CITIES OF...NEWPORT...JOHNSON...STOWE...

MONTPELIER...ENOSBURG FALLS...RICHFORD...UNDERHILL...BRISTOL...

RIPTON...EAST WALLINGFORD...KILLINGTON

335 AM EST SAT DEC 22 2012

 

...WINTER WEATHER ADVISORY REMAINS IN EFFECT FROM 7 AM THIS

MORNING TO 7 AM EST SUNDAY...

 

THE NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE IN BURLINGTON CONTINUES THE WINTER

WEATHER ADVISORY FOR SNOW AND BLOWING SNOW...FROM 7 AM THIS

MORNING TO 7 AM EST SUNDAY.

 

* LOCATIONS...WESTERN SLOPES OF THE GREEN MOUNTAINS IN VERMONT.

 

* HAZARD TYPES...SNOW AND BLOWING SNOW.

 

* ACCUMULATIONS...3 TO 7 INCHES OF SNOW WITH LOCALIZED HIGHER

  AMOUNTS FROM JAY PEAK TO STOWE.

 

* TIMING...SNOW WILL BECOME MORE WIDESPREAD ALONG THE WEST

  SLOPES OF THE GREEN MOUNTAINS EARLY SATURDAY MORNING. THE SNOW

  WILL BE HEAVIER AT TIMES SATURDAY AFTERNOON AND EVENING BEFORE

  TAPERING OFF BY SUNDAY MORNING.

 

* IMPACTS...HAZARDOUS DRIVING CONDITIONS IN SNOW AND BLOWING

  SNOW CAN BE EXPECTED.

 

* WINDS...WEST 10 TO 20 MPH WITH GUSTS UP TO 35 MPH.

 

* TEMPERATURES...HIGHS IN THE LOWER 30S THIS MORNING...DROPPING

  THROUGHOUT THE DAY TODAY. LOWS AROUND 10 ABOVE TONIGHT.

 

* VISIBILITIES...BELOW ONE MILE AT TIMES.

 

PRECAUTIONARY/PREPAREDNESS ACTIONS...

 

A WINTER WEATHER ADVISORY FOR SNOW AND BLOWING SNOW MEANS THAT

VISIBILITIES WILL BE LIMITED DUE TO A COMBINATION OF FALLING AND

BLOWING SNOW. USE CAUTION WHEN TRAVELING...ESPECIALLY IN OPEN

AREAS.

 

PLEASE STAY TUNED TO NOAA WEATHER RADIO...YOUR LOCAL MEDIA...OR

GO TO WWW.WEATHER.GOV/BURLINGTON FOR FURTHER UPDATES ON THIS

WEATHER SITUATION.

 

Details from the 6:00 A.M. Waterbury observations:

 

New Snow: 0.1 inches

New Liquid: T

Temperature: 34.0 F

Sky: Light Snow (3-12 mm flakes)

Snow at the stake: 1.0 inches

 

 

powderfreak, on 22 Dec 2012 - 07:15 AM, said:https://www.amwx.us/public/style_images/American_Weather/snapback.png

 

There's some sort of meso-scale (within the meso-scale precip) feature that must just be crushing someone in western Chittenden County...that pencil thin heavy line has got to be ridiculous snowfall rates given the fluff factor here right now.

 

dendrite, on 22 Dec 2012 - 07:23 AM, said:https://www.amwx.us/public/style_images/American_Weather/snapback.png

 

Just glanced at the dualpol hydrometeor classification quickly and it was detecting graupel in those bands. Not sure how close to reality that is, but those cells did look convective.

 

Indeed I think the dualpol knows it’s stuff, because when I went down to check on the snow, my wife asked me if I “heard” what just went through.  I hadn’t heard anything upstairs, but she said it was like heavy sleet was hitting the windows.  Based on what you’ve said, I bet it was graupel – I’ll have to see what’s in the snow core later today.

 

 

I’m passing along a couple of images from yesterday at Bolton Valley’s Timberline area; details are in my trip report from the day.

 

http://jandeproductions.com/2012/21DEC12A.jpg

 

http://jandeproductions.com/2012/21DEC12B.jpg

 

 

Event totals: 3.6” Snow/1.03” L.E.

 

It’s been fairly light snow here at the house, with just 1.3” since 6:00 A.M. this morning.  I headed up to the mountain mid to late morning for a few runs, so I’ll pass along some snowfall information.  At around 10:00 A.M. I found 2” of new snow at the Timberline Base (1,500’), 3” in the Village (2,100’) and then about 4” up top on the main mountain at the Vista Summit (3,150’).  Snowfall was generally moderate, with occasional bursts of heavy.  One can probably add another inch or two to those snowfall numbers by this point.

 

Details from the 1:00 P.M. Waterbury observations:

 

New Snow: 1.3 inches

New Liquid: 0.08 inches

Snow/Water Ratio: 16.3

Snow Density: 6.2% H2O

Temperature: 27.5 F

Sky: Light Snow (1-5 mm flakes)

Snow at the stake: 2.0 inches

 

 

powderfreak, on 22 Dec 2012 - 4:32 PM, said:https://www.amwx.us/public/style_images/American_Weather/snapback.png

 

You are counting this snowfall in with the front end snow yesterday right...to get the 3.6"?

 

Yes, that's right PF; the 3.6" event total through 1:00 P.M. includes the 2.2” of front end snow from this storm.  There is another 1.3" down on the snowboard now, so it’s 4.9” total as of 5:00 P.M.  I’ll do another assessment later this evening.

 

 

Event totals: 9.5” Snow/1.21” L.E.

 

We left the house around 5:30 P.M. this evening to head to a Christmas party, and we almost turned right around on our road due to the intensity of the snowfall.  We could only see a couple of yards in front of the car and had to drive at a crawl due to snow that must have been falling at over 2 inches an hour.  We decided to push on for a bit, since we were headed to Colchester in the Champlain Valley, and I knew it wouldn’t be snowing with that intensity everywhere.  Heading west on Route 2, the intensity of the snowfall dropped off a lot by the time we got down to the eastern edge of Bolton Flats a couple miles later.  From there, it just tapered to essentially nothing in Richmond.  In fact, there was very little snow on the ground in Richmond.  Flurries reappeared once we got to the top of French Hill in Williston, but once we reached the Burlington area, roads were dry, there was just an occasional flurry, and there was no snow on the ground.  With the benign conditions in Colchester, it was interesting chatting with people about how we’d just come from a veritable blizzard in Waterbury, but other folks who live out in the mountains were reporting similar conditions.

 

Snow shower activity had definitely increased around the area by the time we left, because even on Mills Point way out in the lake it was spitting flurries/light snow.  The snow waned as we passed through Burlington proper, but quickly resumed as we approached Williston, where accumulations appeared along the side of the road.  I hadn’t noticed it before, but just before you’re about to descend French Hill, they have an electronic alert sign, and it read “WINTER WEATHER ADVISORY, REDUCE SPEED”, to alert drivers heading into the mountains.  The intensity of the snowfall continued to increase, and unlike our earlier pass through the area, Richmond was experiencing a steady light snow and fresh accumulations were visible.  Roads were just wet through to Richmond, and then soon after they started to become snow covered.  By Bolton we were into a steady moderate to heavy snow.  That increased just a bit by the time we reached the house, so it certainly wasn’t falling at the intensity of the amazing blitz we’d witnessed when we left, but it was still solid inch per hour stuff.

 

We guessed that there were about 4 to 5 inches of snow on the snowboard at around 9:30 P.M., and I waited until 10:00 P.M. to do a measurement and clearing, at which point I found 5.9 inches comprised of 0.18” of liquid.  I stacked two cores to make sure I got a very robust sampling of the snow, and it came in at 3.1% H2O – that’s major Champlain Powder™ territory, and impressively airy for a half foot stack.  Depending on how nasty the wind is, there should be some very happy skiers out in the Greens tomorrow.  My initial estimate of an inch per hour snowfall that I made while driving in was definitely low, I could tell while I was out there making my observations.  After the clearing, the snowboard had taken on a half inch of new snow in just five minutes.  That of course wouldn’t hold up in a significant stack, but as of 10:30 P.M. there’s already another inch on there, so it’s coming down in the 2 inch per hour range.

 

Details from the 10:00 P.M. Waterbury observations:

 

New Snow: 5.9 inches

New Liquid: 0.18 inches

Snow/Water Ratio: 32.8

Snow Density: 3.1% H2O

Temperature: 21.9 F

Sky: Heavy Snow (1-20 mm flakes)

Snow at the stake: 7.0 inches

 

 

ChrisM, on 23 Dec 2012 - 12:21 AM, said:https://www.amwx.us/public/style_images/American_Weather/snapback.png

 

stowe must be getting hammered right now...like 1"/hr+ kind of stuff

 

I would think so – we picked up 2 inches in the 10:00 P.M. to 11:00 P.M. block down here, so unless there’s something funky going on, the higher elevations of Mansfield should be seeing some pretty decent snowfall.

 

 

Sunday, December 23rd, 2012

 

 

Event totals: 11.6” Snow/1.25” L.E.

 

After the 10:00 P.M. clearing and analysis, I took a few intermediate measurements off the snowboard last night before heading to bed:

 

Time/Total Snow on Snowboard

10:30 P.M.:  1.0”

11:00 P.M.:  2.0”

11:30 P.M.:  2.1”

12:00 A.M.:  2.1”

 

It was still snowing at a moderate clip for a while after 11:00 P.M., but with snow that dry (~2% H2O) the new accumulation couldn’t even outpace the settling.  I also caught a radar shot of when the snow was shutting off – there was a very distinct line moving in from the west that was visible on the radar:

 

http://jandeproductions.com/2012/22DEC12B.gif

 

There has been another tenth of an inch of snow accumulation on the board from this morning’s activity, but precipitation has cleared out now.

 

Details from the 6:00 A.M. Waterbury observations:

 

New Snow: 2.1 inches

New Liquid: 0.04 inches

Snow/Water Ratio: 52.5

Snow Density: 1.9% H2O

Temperature: 20.1 F

Sky: Light Snow (1-3 mm flakes)

Snow at the stake: 7.0 inches

 

 

Sunday, December 23rd, 2012

 

 

A final tenth of an inch of snow accumulated on the snowboard this morning after the 6:00 A.M. clearing, which brought the total for the recent event to 11.7”.  That was it for precipitation this morning, and the sun was even peeking out here and there for a bit, but by midday that weak upper level disturbance was making its way into the area.  We were up on the mountain at the time, and once snow broke out it persisted for the rest of the day with some beautiful dendrites.  It was typically light with a couple bouts of moderate, but it was fantastic mood snow and it looks like the mountain picked up another inch of fluff to top off the rest of the Champlain Powder™ - and indeed it was, that was some extremely high quality snow that we got last night.  The skiing was fantastic, with temperatures in the 20s F, minimal wind, and those flakes all afternoon to finish the scene.  I generally found 12-14” around the mountain after settling, with a shot below of a measurement I took at the 2,800’ level:

 

 

Just add skis and you get the following:

 

 

We’ve picked up another 0.9” on the snowboard tonight, and it looks like there’s a decent feed of moisture into the area based on the radar:

 

 

With that addition, December snowfall here has reached a respectable 21.3”, and this December has now pulled out of last place for monthly snowfall by passing December 2006 (where there was just 20.2” for the entire month).  We’re about halfway to average December snowfall now, so with more potential storms in the pipe, this month has a chance to end up with a respectable total.  The point forecast suggests four rounds of snow in the near future, a little tonight with the weak upper level disturbance, another one of those Christmas Even into Christmas day, and then potentially larger storms Wednesday/Thursday and Saturday/Sunday.

 

Speaking of respectable, I just saw that the Mt. Mansfield Stake came in at 42” today, and indeed this past event has pushed the snowpack up to and now beyond average.  The snowpack plot shows one heck of a catching up spike on it:

 

 

 

powderfreak, on 23 Dec 2012 - 6:51 PM, said:https://www.amwx.us/public/style_images/American_Weather/snapback.png

 

Looking at the CoCoRAHS reports, you can see J.Spin's little amazing snow globe spot with 9.3" of new snow...2-3 times as much as anyone else around there east or west. With these long duration fluffy snowfalls where you are clearing 2-3" every 6 hours and adding them together, I really wonder how much difference that makes vs someone who just measures the fluff once every 24 hours. Because as J.Spin mentioned in his last report, it was snowing moderately but couldn't out-pace the settling that was occurring... but then you clear that and start over every 6 hours. That stuff fascinates me.

J.Spin, I'd be curious to see if you put a board down and just measured once the snow stopped, and compared that to what you get clearing and measuring every 6 hours. Your area does get an impressive amount of snow, though... I cleared the 1,550ft snow board once during the event (2.5" and 6.0" for 8.5" total) and 1,000ft lower in the Winooski Valley still got more than that.

 

For this one PF, based on the reading at the snow stake in the yard this morning, I think a 24-hour measurement would only have given a depth of 6 to 7 inches vs. the 9.3”.  This stuff came in at 2 to 3% H2O, and snow that dry settles like mad.  And actually, this set of observations wasn’t even from six-hour intervals because of skiing, a Christmas party, etc.  The first 1.3” of snow was a seven hour collection from a 6:00 A.M. to 1:00 P.M., the next 5.9” was a nine hour collection from 1:00 P.M. to 10:00 P.M., and the final 2.1” was an eight hour collection from 10:00 P.M. to 6:00 A.M.  The total probably would have been even a bit higher with six-hour intervals.  There’s no doubt that this was a hot spot for snowfall with this event though – we didn’t travel any farther east than this point yesterday, but to the west we went all the way out to Mills Point on Lake Champlain and back during a prime part of the event, and the snowfall here was clearly the most intense.  Even today as we drove to Bolton Valley, you could see that the east end of Bolton Flats (just a couple of miles from here) has only a couple of inches of snow on the ground with grass poking through.  I’m assuming the snowfall fell off pretty quickly to the east as well based on the CoCoRaHS reports, so even with a report of 6 or 7 inches this area would have stood out on the snowfall maps with this event.  We’ve had all this snow and I’ve yet to run the snow thrower through the driveway or even touch a shovel.  We just drive the cars right through the snow because it dissolves like cotton candy.  I haven’t even messed with the berm that the town plow makes at the end of the driveway; we can just drive right through that as well.  It doesn’t substantiate the snowpack too much, but it sure is the stuff of skier’s dreams.  Utah’s got nothing on this upslope fluff - Champlain Powder™ all the way.

 

 

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