January 26th, 2012 – Waterbury Winter Weather Event Updates

 

 

Tuesday, January 24th, 2012

 

 

I’ve been checking in on the potential Friday event on the ECMWF at the Weather Underground WunderMap, and it certainly looked like it could be a decent shot of snow to my untrained eye.  The 850 mb temps seem to stay reasonable, and although the 540 thickness line heads north of the international border, the snow algorithm definitely shows snow in NNE, and the projected amount has been increasing for the past three runs.  On this latest 12Z run, snowfall seems to hang around in the northern mountains from late Thursday night all the way through to early Saturday morning.  What’s the signal for the precipitation not being snow (the thickness, or something else? – I didn’t check temperatures at all elevations).  We’re only about 48 hours or so out, but there didn’t seem to be too much excitement for it in the thread for the event, so I figured I’d post it here.  I guess the other models not having quite the same storm is keeping things in check?

 

 

Wednesday, January 25th, 2012

 

 

The next couple of systems definitely sound like they have the potential for more snow; in his morning forecast on The Point, Bob Minsenberger was going with snow to mix/rain for the system starting tomorrow night.  I couldn’t tell if that was a CPV-centric forecast though, because Roger Hill is currently going with almost all snow for Northern Vermont, with the possibility of a little sleet in there.  He said that he was expecting significant mixing down in Southern Vermont however, with the possibility of freezing rain.  He did caution that we’ll have to watch out for the potential for that to creep north.  In their forecast discussion, the BTV NWS is still waiting on the resolution of differences between the GFS and the ECMWF, but at this point said that they are going with sleet and snow.  Roger Hill also spoke about the Saturday through Monday system, and is expecting more accumulating snow showers with that one.  He mentioned it as an arctic frontal passage, although the NWS refers to it as a slow moving low pressure system passing to our north in their forecast discussion.

 

Roger also mentioned that BTV has only received 22.1” of snow so far this season, for 16th lowest in their records.  That means that along the spine on the Waterbury/Bolton line, we’ve received close to 3X the snowfall that Burlington has this season, which is a much larger disparity than usual (typically it seems to be more in the range of 1.5X to 2X).  Using my snowfall data from the past 6 seasons, the 61.0” of snowfall recorded thus far for 2011-2012 is 72.5% of average.

 

 

Thursday, January 26th, 2012

 

 

The forecasts for the Northern Greens eastward this morning from Bob Minsenberger, Mark Breen, Roger Hill, and the BTV NWS all seemed pretty similar for the upcoming event with 3 to 5 inches of front end snow, mixed precipitation with some ice in the middle, then the return to snow on the backside with more chances for snow over the weekend.  The potential ice is certainly the biggest concern – the NWS only mentions the potential 3 to 5 inches of snow in our point forecast, but ¼ to ½ inch of ice is mentioned in the Winter Storm Warning that has been put up.  The NWS didn’t seem to mention total liquid for the storm in their forecast discussion, but even though the precipitation isn’t all snow, it should be a great addition to the total liquid in the snowpack for the mountains, and presumably even the mountain valleys.  I added the latest BTV NWS winter warnings graphic and the Winter Storm Warning text below; they don’t have a snowfall map out however, just one for ice accumulation.

 

 

URGENT - WINTER WEATHER MESSAGE

NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE BURLINGTON VT

330 AM EST THU JAN 26 2012

 

VTZ003-004-006>008-010-012-262100-

/O.NEW.KBTV.WS.W.0002.120127T0000Z-120128T0000Z/

ORLEANS-ESSEX-LAMOILLE-CALEDONIA-WASHINGTON-ORANGE-WINDSOR-

INCLUDING THE CITIES OF...NEWPORT...ISLAND POND...JOHNSON...

STOWE...ST. JOHNSBURY...MONTPELIER...BRADFORD...RANDOLPH...

SPRINGFIELD...WHITE RIVER JUNCTION

330 AM EST THU JAN 26 2012

 

...WINTER STORM WARNING IN EFFECT FROM 7 PM THIS EVENING TO 7 PM

EST FRIDAY...

 

THE NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE IN BURLINGTON HAS ISSUED A WINTER

STORM WARNING...WHICH IS IN EFFECT FROM 7 PM THIS EVENING TO 7 PM

EST FRIDAY.

 

* LOCATIONS...EASTERN VERMONT

 

* HAZARD TYPES...SNOW...SLEET AND FREEZING RAIN.

 

* ACCUMULATIONS...SNOW ACCUMULATION OF 2 TO 5 INCHES...ALONG WITH

  ONE QUARTER TO ONE HALF OF AN INCH OF ICE.

 

* TIMING...SNOW WILL OVERSPREAD THE REGION THIS EVENING...AND

  TRANSITION TO A MIX OF SNOW...SLEET AND FREEZING RAIN BY FRIDAY

  MORNING. RAIN AND POCKETS OF FREEZING RAIN WILL CONTINUE INTO

  FRIDAY BEFORE TAPERING TO RAIN AND SNOW SHOWERS FRIDAY EVENING.

 

* IMPACTS...HAZARDOUS TRAVEL CONDITIONS EXPECTED WITH SIGNIFICANT

  ICING POSSIBLE. THIS MAY LEAD TO TREE AND POWERLINE DAMAGE

  RESULTING IN SCATTERED POWER OUTAGES.

 

* WINDS...SOUTHEAST 5 TO 15 MPH WITH GUSTS UP TO 35 MPH.

 

* TEMPERATURES...STEADY IN THE UPPER 20S TO LOWER 30S

  TONIGHT...THEN LATE DAY HIGHS IN THE MID TO UPPER 30S ON FRIDAY.

 

* VISIBILITIES...LOCALLY BELOW 1 MILE TONIGHT.

 

PRECAUTIONARY/PREPAREDNESS ACTIONS...

 

A WINTER STORM WARNING MEANS SIGNIFICANT AMOUNTS OF

SNOW...SLEET...AND ICE ARE EXPECTED OR OCCURRING. THIS WILL MAKE

TRAVEL VERY HAZARDOUS WITH NON-ESSENTIAL TRAVEL DISCOURAGED.

 

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

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

WEATHER SITUATION.

 

 

View Postklw, on 26 January 2012 - 10:40 AM, said:

BTV snow forecast map

 

Thanks klw, BTV has the icing map superseding the snowfall map in their headline link, but I see now that the snowfall forecast map can be obtained in the “Snow Info” section at their website.  It’s nice to see those 4 to 6-inch numbers along the spine an off to the east; it looks like that map is covering through 7 PM tomorrow.  It would be nice to get that snow, although whatever liquid equivalent comes in should be a good snowpack addition.  I ran that cool hourly weather graph option off the point and click, and it had 4.5” snow and 0.73” total liquid up in the higher elevations of Mt. Mansfield.  I also ran it for our location (graphic below) and it has 5.3” snow and 0.78” total liquid.  It should be fun to compare that to the empirical data derived from my analyses for the event.

 

 

 

Snowing here in Waterbury now; it started up around 6:15 P.M.

 

 

View Postpowderfreak, on 26 January 2012 - 07:38 PM, said:

You must've had a little period of steadier light snow from those echos in the Winooski Valley/I-89 corridor.

 

I’m not sure if I caught that wave, but it’s certainly picking up out there now; 0.6” on the snowboard as of 7:15 PM; it’s pretty fluffy accumulation with flakes up to 10 mm.

 

 

Friday, January 27th, 2012

 

 

Event totals: 3.1” Snow/0.61” L.E.

 

Snow began yesterday at our location around 6:15 P.M., it was fairly light for a while, and then it ramped up in intensity around 8:30 P.M.  From that point I recorded a few hourly observations:

 

Time | Snow on board

9 PM | 1.3”

10 PM | 1.8”

11 PM | 2.1”

12 AM | 2.2”

 

The snow that had fallen through that point had been a mixture of some large (up to 1 ½”) and small flakes, and the settled accumulation at midnight came in at a fairly synoptic-like 8.2% H2O.

 

This morning at the 6:00 A.M. observations I found 0.9” of dense accumulation on the snowboard, with plenty of sleet in there, and probably some rain.  The precipitation was light sleet at the time, with what appeared to be a little rain mixed in.  The driving was actually quite fun heading into Waterbury this morning – during his broadcast, Roger Hill was talking about how the road crews purposefully leave the slush on the roads at these times to absorb the incoming liquid, making a far superior surface to what can happen if they strip off the snow and let it glaze with ice.  Anyway, the few inches of snow/slush did its job and you could really feel the security and control it provided.  I only traveled a few miles, but the empty roads with an AWD Subaru were definitely a lot of fun.

 

Some details from the 12:00 A.M. and 6:00 A.M. Waterbury observations are below:

 

12:00 A.M.

New Snow: 2.2 inches

New Liquid: 0.18 inches

Snow/Water Ratio: 12.2

Snow Density: 8.2% H2O

Temperature: 30.7 F

Sky: Light Snow (1 mm flakes)

Snow at the stake: 9.0 inches

 

6:00 A.M.

New Snow: 0.9 inches (some sleet)

New Liquid: 0.43 inches

Snow/Water Ratio: 2.1

Snow Density: 47.8% H2O

Temperature: 33.3 F

Sky: Light Sleet

Snow at the stake: 10.0 inches

 

 

I didn’t have a chance to look into it before, but here’s the north to south list of snow totals for the Vermont ski areas that I could glean from their websites and Ski Vermont for the front end of this storm.  It looks like the Mansfield area had the highest totals, which were in the 4-5” range, and lesser amounts were found down in the southern part of the state:

 

Jay Peak: 3”

Burke: 3”

Smuggler’s Notch: 5”

Stowe: 4”

Bolton Valley: 3”

Mad River Glen: 4”

Sugarbush: 4”

Middlebury: 4”

Pico: 2”

Killington: 2”

Okemo: 2”

Magic Mountain: 2”

Stratton: 2”

Mount Snow: 2”

 

It looks like there will be some additional snow to add to the totals on the back side of the event; looking at the radar, it shouldn’t be too long before the mountains are back into the snow.

 

 

Event totals: 3.1” Snow/1.29” L.E.

 

It was pouring when I got back to Waterbury this evening around 5:45 PM., and I was thinking it would be if all that moisture was in the form of snow.  When I got in the car though, I could see the occasional flake in the headlights, and noticed that the large drops on the windshield were full of crystals – often a sign that the mountains are getting a pounding of snowfall.  I stopped in at the Cider House to pick up some food, and when I came back out it seemed like it was close to changing over to snow in the valley.  It was – by the time I got to the house it was snowing moderately, albeit with a little sleet and rain still in there.  When I checked the rain/snow gauge I found that we’d received quite a shot of precipitation during the day today, there was 0.68” of additional liquid, bringing the total for the event to well over an inch.  My wife said that the precipitation today at the house was actually a combination of rain and sleet, but it was clearly a bit too warm for any additional accumulation.  This event has put a huge shot of liquid into the snowpack down here though – I suspect it’s pretty saturated after all that liquid.  The temperature has taken its time getting down to freezing, but it’s close now and there’s 0.3” of additional snow on the snowboard as ~9:00 P.M.

 

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

 

New Liquid: 0.68 inches

Temperature: 35.6 F

Sky: Moderate Snow (2-10 mm flakes)

Snow at the stake: 9.0 inches

 

 

Saturday, January 28th, 2012

 

 

Event totals: 3.5” Snow/1.38” L.E.

 

We picked up 0.4” of snow yesterday evening/overnight from the back end of the current storm.  Since the precipitation was just changing over to snow around 6:00 P.M. yesterday, I squeegeed the liquid off the snowboards to get a value on the liquid equivalent from the snowfall from that point onward.  There was still mixed precipitation in the snow at first, but it looks like most of the liquid that subsequently fell was captured in the new snow, 0.08” of liquid was obtained off the board and 0.09” was caught by the gauge.

 

A quick look through my records suggests that for this location, the 1.38” of liquid equivalent received during this event is the greatest of any winter storm so far this season, with the December 27th storm (9.7” Snow/1.24” L.E.) coming in second, the November 23rd storm (11.0” Snow/1.19” L.E.) third, and the January 12th storm (11.7” Snow/0.91” L.E.) fourth.  In this neck of the woods, that’s it for the list of most notable storms so far this season in terms of either snow or liquid equivalent; the next largest snowfall behind those is under a half foot for the December 25th storm (5.1” Snow/0.32” L.E.).  This season is interesting in how it’s been somewhat lean on both synoptic and orographic storms, but it is still running well ahead of 2006-2007, which had only one storm in the 1-foot range (12.8” from the 1/19/07 storm) all the way through to the Valentine’s Day Storm.  Also, snowfall is still running ~15” ahead of 2006-2007 as we approach the end of January.  While 2006-2007 did redeem itself somewhat with a strong spring, looking at the data, it’s amazing just how low it was on storms and snowfall through much of the winter.

 

I just updated my Waterbury snowpack plot for this season, and added it below.  It’s riddled with peaks and valleys with all the ups and downs in temperature and precipitation this season, but a linear regression of the data since the start of continuous snowpack on 12/23 still reveals an increase of 1.2”/wk. 

 

 

Some details from the 7:00 A.M. Waterbury observations are below:

 

New Snow: 0.4 inches

New Liquid: 0.08 inches

Snow/Water Ratio: 5.0

Snow Density: 20.0% H2O

Temperature: 32.7 F

Sky: Partly Cloudy

Snow at the stake: 9.0 inches

 

 

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