October 26th, 2013 – Waterbury Winter Weather Event Updates

 

A report related to this period of winter weather is also available in the J&E Productions web log.


 

Tuesday, October 22nd, 2013

 

 

J.Spin, on 14 Oct 2013 - 08:22 AM, said:http://www.americanwx.com/bb/public/style_images/American_Weather/snapback.png

…indeed models like the GFS and ECMWF are suggesting a progression that could bring snow chances here in about a week.

 

With today’s reports of snow in the Northern Greens, it looks like the models were on track with the prognostications from about a week ago.  Beyond the snow that fell today, it seemed like there might be the chance for a little something in the Wednesday/Thursday timeframe, but in the latest BTV NWS discussion, it looks like it's just going to be some transient lake effect snow that's more off to the west and south of this area.  There’s starting to be more discussion about the potential weekend Clipper system though as PF posted:

 

A LIGHT SNOW ACCUMULATION OF A DUSTING TO SEVERAL INCHES LOOKS LIKELY ABOVE 1500 FT BY SUNDAY...

 

It could be the first Clipper of the season for the Greens to do something with; we’ll have to see if it stays on track.

 

 

Thursday, October 24th, 2013

 

 

I was surprised to find a couple hundredths of new liquid in the rain gauge this morning, and with temperatures dipping down into the 20s F for the first time this season, I also wouldn’t be surprised if there were some flakes out there last night.  There were no obvious signs that any snow had fallen with the ground just wet/frozen, but after hearing reports of snow in areas like Stowe and Lyndonville during Roger Hill’s broadcast this morning (and now some here in the thread), there were clearly some lower-elevation flakes around overnight in parts of Northern Vermont.  This recent influx of air has certainly been cold, and under partly cloudy skies this morning you could tell by the brilliance of the stars.  Anyway, Roger mentioned that there are various chances for snow over the next few days, and looking at on our point and click forecast, the potential for snow is shown for as far as the forecast goes, which is all the way through the middle of next week.

 

 

After this weekend’s potential event, I noticed that the 00Z ECMWF was suggesting an additional opportunity for snow on Monday.  There’s not much in that range on the 06Z GFS, but the 00Z GFS had a similar look to the ECMWF.  I assume the precipitation there is related to the trough during that period in the BTV NWS discussion – they mention how the best dynamics are north of the border, but it looks like another possible event to monitor if there is moisture:

 

.LONG TERM /SATURDAY NIGHT THROUGH WEDNESDAY/...

ANOTHER UPPER LEVEL TROUGH DIGGING SOUTHEASTWARD FROM JAMES BAY SUNDAY NIGHT WILL BRING A RENEWED CHANCE OF SHOWERS LATE SUNDAY NIGHT AND MONDAY. MOISTURE LIMITED AND BEST DYNAMICS WITH THIS TROUGH PASS NORTH OF THE BORDER...SO HAVE ONLY GONE WITH 20-30 POPS FOR MONDAY WITH PTYPE RAIN IN THE VALLEYS AND SNOW/RAIN OVER HIGHER TERRAIN.

 

 

 

Looking from here in Burlington, there’s plenty of good snow crashing out along the west flank of Mt. Mansfield – on the radar it looks like an impulse of moisture just moved into the Northern Greens:

 

 

 

powderfreak, on 24 Oct 2013 - 1:31 PM, said:http://www.americanwx.com/bb/public/style_images/American_Weather/snapback.png

Definitely snowing on Stowe and Smuggs ski area web cams. MVL just reporting -RN in the valley though.

 

Yeah, the mountains really disappeared with this latest impulse of moisture, even raining here in Burlington now – the mountain will probably get hit a bit heavier when this passes through:

 

 

 

powderfreak, on 24 Oct 2013 - 3:11 PM, said:http://www.americanwx.com/bb/public/style_images/American_Weather/snapback.png

I keep waiting to see if MVL will switch over...numerous posts on FB from friends saying it's snowing in town but not sticking obviously. That's usually how it goes if it's starting to stick at the ski area base, we'll get cat paw flakes in town.

 

My wife said that there was definitely snow falling in Morrisville today – her first graders were glued to the window whenever the white stuff made an appearance.

 

Directly related to that… I could only assume we’d had some flakes here at the house based on the reports from around the area, but as of this evening it’s official.  A while back I heard the intensity of the rain outside pick up substantially, so I decided to see if that brought down any snow with it, and indeed the flakes were mixing in.  After a look at the local radar, I can see that the intensity was associated with that streamer of precipitation dropping southward into the Winooski Valley/I-89 corridor:

 

 

It seemed very likely that we’d get a touch of snow at some point with the current weather pattern, but having recently checked my records, that actually means there’s been frozen precipitation here at the house in October for eight out of the last eight seasons.  I haven’t tried to work up the numbers for first appearance of frozen precipitation/snowfall here, but I do have the numbers for first accumulating snow, and the mean is October 26th ± 12 days, so we’re very close to that date.

 

 

powderfreak, on 24 Oct 2013 - 8:49 PM, said:http://www.americanwx.com/bb/public/style_images/American_Weather/snapback.png

Curious, how much liquid precip did you pick up today in the gauge?

 

I cleared out that 0.02” this morning from last night’s activity, and found 0.03” new in the gauge when I got home this evening at ~5:30 PM or so.  After you inquiry, I went out and checked at around 8:45 PM, and there’s now 0.12” in there, so we’ve certainly seen an increase in the precipitation this evening with almost a tenth of an inch.  A light rain was still falling when I was out there.

 

 

I grabbed this image from Burlington near midday today – there’s not much mountain to see, but some of the tendrils of snow are visible coming down out of the clouds and you can still make out some of the foothills below Mansfield:

 

 

There’s nothing like seeing that first upslope wall of the snow season.

 

 

Well, the Mansfield point forecast is looking pretty nice as we close out the month of October:

 

 

…and reading the long term part of the BTV NWS discussion was a lot more intriguing than I thought it would be.  Whatever happens, it sure looks like there’s moisture to watch going forward:

 

.LONG TERM /SUNDAY THROUGH THURSDAY/...

AS OF 342 PM EDT THURSDAY...SOME SHOWERS CONTINUE SUNDAY AS CLIPPER SYSTEM DEPARTS TO THE NORTHEAST. SNOW PSBL IN THE HIGHER TRRN ABOUT 1500 FT OR ABOVE EARLY SUNDAY. MORE SHOWERS PSBL ON MONDAY AS AN UPPER LVL SHORTWAVE MOVES JUST NORTH OF THE AREA. WITH COLDER TEMPERATURES IN PLACE...SHOW SHOWERS PSBL AT 1000FT AND ABOVE EARLY MONDAY...WITH HIGHEST TRRN PSBLY REMAINING SNOW THROUGHOUT THE DAY. MONDAY NT INTO TUESDAY...SFC HIGH PRESSURE WILL BUILD OVER THE GREAT LAKES REGION PROVIDING DRY CONDITIONS THRU LATE TUESDAY/EARLY WEDNESDAY.

 

12Z GFS AND ECMWF SHOWING MORE AGREEMENT...BUT STILL MUCH DISPARITY EXISTS IN THE DETAILS. UPPER TROUGH DIGS INTO THE CENTRAL GREAT LAKES EARLY WEDNESDAY...BRINGING ANOTHER CHANCE FOR PRECIP...WITH SNOW PSBLY REACHING THE VALLEYS...AS THE UPPER TROUGH QUICKLY MOVES TOWARD NEW ENGLAND LATE WEDNESDAY/EARLY THURSDAY. GFS SHOWS SFC LOW ASSOCIATED WITH NORTHERN STREAM OF AFOREMENTIONED TROUGH TO BE MUCH STRONGER AND WELL DEFINED...AND DRAMATICALLY STRENGTHENING (DARE I SAY BOMBOGENESIS?) AS IT NEARS THE CANADIAN MARITIMES. WHILE THE ECMWF HAS THE MAIN FEATURE BEING THE UPPER LVL SHORTWAVE WITH LESS QPF AND WIND WITH A WEAK LOW REFLECTED AT THE SFC MUCH FURTHER SOUTH THAN THE GFS. HAVE INCLUDED CHC POPS FOR THIS PERIOD...AS GUIDANCE IS TRENDING TO HAVE A SYSTEM AFFECT THE AREA.

 

BOTH MODELS SHOW A BRIEF BREAK THURSDAY BEFORE THE NEXT SYSTEM. GFS BEING THE FASTER OF THE TWO WITH REGARDS TO THIS UPCOMING SYSTEM FROM THE MISSISSIPPI VALLEY. BUT SLOWER ECMWF SOLN HAVING THE STRONGER SYSTEM AS IT APPROACHES ON FRIDAY.

 

MAX TEMPERATURES WILL BE NEAR NORMAL SUNDAY...BEFORE COLDER AIR IN THE WAKE OF THE CLIPPER FILTERS IN FROM THE NW...LEADING TO TEMPERATURES 5-10 DEGREES BELOW NORMAL THRU THE MIDDLE OF NEXT WEEK. COLDEST TEMPS LOOK TO OCCUR EARLY TUESDAY MORNING WITH MIN TEMPS IN THE M-U20S IN THE VALLEYS AND TEENS TO L20S IN THE HIGH TRRN.

 

  

Friday, October 25th, 2013

 

 

The mix of rain and snow clearly kept up overnight to reveal 0.23” of liquid in the gauge this morning, and the precipitation continued at observations time in the form of light and at times even moderate rain/snow.  The temperature reading at the house was 36.5F, so it’s not surprising that there was no visible snow accumulation, but the snow line shouldn’t be too far up with mid 30s F in the valleys.  With the way the precipitation stayed on overnight, it will be interesting to hear the accumulations that are reported from the higher elevations – the Mt. Mansfield temperature on the ridgeline is at 24 F, so there’s no question about the frozen state of any precipitation up there.  The latest radar nicely shows some of the streamers of moisture hitting the mountains:

 

 

 

I grabbed a shot of Mansfield today after the clouds broke away.  There’s plenty of white up there, and although this evening’s report from the stake doesn’t seem to have a value for total snow depth, the co-op has reported 8 inches of snowfall over the past two days.  Based on the forecast at elevation, it doesn’t look like there’s much concern about losing it this weekend – there could even be some gains with freezing levels in the 2,000’ to 2,500’ range according to the BTV NWS discussion.

 

 

 

Saturday, October 26th, 2013

 

 

Well, this morning we’ve had some snow, snow grains, and sleet falling, and it produced the first accumulating snow of the season (or at least the first one I’ve been home to witness and document).  It couldn’t be more on track in terms of average - the mean for first accumulating snowfall in my data is October 26th ± 12 days, and that mean will of course stay put with the incorporation of this new data point.  There certainly appears to be some moisture moving into the area based on the radar, so we’ll see if anything else happens today in terms of frozen precipitation:

 

 

  

powderfreak, on 26 Oct 2013 - 09:08 AM, said:http://www.americanwx.com/bb/public/style_images/American_Weather/snapback.png

Its still spitting snow but accumulations have stopped and/or actually started to melt back, especially on the tree branches and elevated surfaces.

 

Final snowfall will be 0.3" this morning.

 

We had that transient 0.2” on the elevated snowboard this morning, but it was never enough to even whiten the ground and I doubt I would have caught it if I hadn’t been out there – precipitation has been mostly trending toward rain since then.  I’ve been generally seeing the images from Mt. Mansfield recently for this period of snow, but I just looked at the Bolton Valley Web Cam and there appears to be a decent amount of snow up there as well:

 

 

For whatever reason, Bolton’s accumulations at the beginning of last season seemed notably below what we were getting on Mansfield, but it looks like they’ve done OK so far during this stretch – perhaps a bit more of a west side effect.

 

There’s been 0.04” of liquid from this event here so far; some thoughts from BTV this morning for the near term with this system:

 

.NEAR TERM /UNTIL 8 PM THIS EVENING/...

AS OF 929 AM EDT SATURDAY...HAVE DONE A QUICK UPDATE TO ACCOUNT FOR SLIGHTLY BETTER AREAL COVERAGE OF LIGHT PRECIPITATION ACROSS THE AREA THIS MORNING. MOISTURE WITHIN SOUTHWEST FLOW CONTINUES TO MOVE ACROSS THE AREA THIS MORNING AND RADAR/SURFACE OBSERVATIONS REPORTING LIGHT PRECIPITATION. WELL DEFINED SHORTWAVE TROUGH MOVING INTO EASTERN CANADA WILL CONTINUE TO PROVIDE DYNAMIC SUPPORT AND ENHANCE THE PRECIPITATION POTENTIAL THROUGHOUT THE DAY. HAVE RAISED PRECIPITATION PROBABILITIES FOR TODAY TO MENTION LIKELY OR GREATER CHANCES MOST AREAS WITH ONLY CHANCE/SLIGHT CHANCE OVER SOUTH CENTRAL VERMONT. IN ADDITION...ADDED THE LIGHT WORDING QUALIFIER AND ANY SNOW ACCUMULATIONS THIS MORNING WILL BE AN INCH OR LESS.

 

This storm has plenty of areal coverage on the national radar map – it’s certainly the main precipitation event in that regard:

 

 

 

powderfreak, on 26 Oct 2013 - 09:54 AM, said:http://www.americanwx.com/bb/public/style_images/American_Weather/snapback.png

Absolutely dumping at the ski area. Putting ski boots on.

 

Nice, just saw that on the web cams… I’ve been tossing similar thoughts around all morning…

 

 

ono, on 26 Oct 2013 - 11:12 AM, said:http://www.americanwx.com/bb/public/style_images/American_Weather/snapback.png

J. Spin/PF - how is bolton/mountain road looking as for driving?  is it wet, or slush..?  Want to go have a look/walk around, but haven't got my snow tires on yet (amateur mistake, I know). 

 

Don't want to be "that guy" that ties up traffic sliding off the side of the road.

 

I can’t say for sure, but I don’t think it will be too much of a problem – the Bolton Valley Weather Station at 2,100’ is reading ~34 F, so most of the road should just be wet.

 

 

Well, we definitely got to witness Mt. Mansfield flexing the snowfall muscles today - despite the fact that we know this mountain’s ability to reel in snow, it just never gets old.  I’d certainly been contemplating some turns, but after catching Powderfreak’s comment about how it was dumping at the ski area, and then checking the web cams myself to see snow falling hard and fast at the base, that sealed the deal.  My older son has been chomping at the bit for some skiing, so he joined me and we headed out in the early afternoon.  Temperatures were in the low 40s F in the valleys, and the precipitation was generally light rain.  The Worcester Range was visible to the east, white with new snow, but off to the west, a white haze hung over the spine of the Greens and we could see that it was definitely still snowing up there.  The precipitation remained rain as we headed up the Mountain Road, but at ~900’ elevation near Northern Lights Lodge, we started to see leftover snow accumulations along the sides of the road.  The snow on the ground continued to build, and by the time we pulled into Stowe’s Midway Lot at ~1,600’, we found 2-4” of snow on the ground up on the grassy slopes above.  The temperature had only dropped to 38 F, but the precipitation had changed fully over to a light snow comprised of small flakes.
 
Here are the depths we observed on our ascent of the
Gondola side of the resort:
 
1,600’: 2-4”
2,000’: 4-6”
2,500’: 6-8”
3,000’: 8-10”
3,600’: 10-12”+
 
It was around 4:30 P.M. when we hit the top of the
Gondola at ~3,600’, and the snow was coming down with some good intensity.  It wasn’t quite inch an hour snowfall since the flakes were still fairly small, but it felt like it was somewhere between ½ and 1 inch/hr and it was quite impressive.  We took shelter under the Cliff House to gear up for the descent because of the intensity of the snowfall, but there was almost no wind, so it was nice to hang out and watch the flakes pour down.  With the late hour, thick clouds, and hefty snowfall, it had that dusky feel of December in the north.  Ty and I discussed how it just as easily could have been December with all the snow, and although it isn’t quite December, the skiing wasn’t half bad, especially for October:
 

 
That more intense snowfall was with us on the entire descent, and the freezing line had gone down as well.  Back at the car, heavy wet snow was falling, and the temperature was down to 35 F, three degrees below where it had been when we’d arrived.  It was the sort of precipitation that soaked you very quickly once you were out of your Gore-Tex:
 

 
The precipitation eventually changed back to rain as we dropped into the valleys, but it was raining quite hard at times.  There had already been some additional snow accumulations down to lower elevations by the time we were leaving – the snow in some of the lower elevations actually looked better than it had on the way up due to some new covering.  Although it looks like the precipitation tapered off at some point this evening, there may be some more to come since it’s starting to appear upstream on the radar now.

 

For full details, head to the ski trip report from today:

 

 

Monday, October 28th, 2013

 

 

powderfreak, on 27 Oct 2013 - 1:06 PM, said:http://www.americanwx.com/bb/public/style_images/American_Weather/snapback.png

Nice report, J.Spin!  That last picture looks like something out of the Pacific NW.  Just pounding precipitation that definitely looks to soak one almost immediately.

 

Snow level came up pretty high last night between 2,500-3,000ft it seems...the freezing level is up there around 3,000ft at this point now.

 

Thanks PF, yeah, we were definitely ready to warm up with some hearty food after just a few minutes out in that pounding wet snow, and both of us were absolutely imbibing the heat from the seat heaters in the car on the way home.  The whole family headed back for some turns yesterday, and with respect to those rising snow levels, you could certainly see the changes in the snow on the ground, with the snow melting back in the lowest elevations.  I put the following in my trip report from yesterday:

 

“Warmer temperatures overnight had definitely melted out some of the lower elevation snows; whereas yesterday we found the first signs of snow around 900’, today they were up around 1,300’ near the Toll House slopes.  Snow had melted back a bit at the Midway Lot as well, and we had to walk a couple hundred feet up toward Perry Merrill before we could put on our skins.”

 

While the warmth and rain had put a notable hit in the snow near the base, on average we did actually encounter a slight increase in depths as we headed up in elevation.  That snow was really pounding down when we left on Saturday at the end of the day as I showed in that picture, and presumably the increases we saw in snow depth were from that inch or so that fell Saturday night.  We stopped our ascent at 3,200’ yesterday, but here’s what we found in terms of depths (first value is for Saturday, and after the arrow is what we found on Sunday):

 

Elevation:  Sat à Sun

1,600’: 2-4” à 0-2”

2,000’: 4-6” à 4-7”

2,500’: 6-8” à 7-9”

3,000’: 8-10” à 9-11”

3,600’: 10-12”+ à 11”+ (3,200’)

 

I think the quality of the turns was down a touch yesterday, in part due to the fact that the snow was fresher on Saturday and even more was coming down, but even on Sunday there was still plenty of great snow up high:

 

 

 

It’s really hard to complain as far as October turns go.

 

 

jzinckgra, on 28 Oct 2013 - 12:37 PM, said:http://www.americanwx.com/bb/public/style_images/American_Weather/snapback.png

JSpin, how often are you hitting rocks and other obstacles? The tracks look nice but you must be compressing pretty far down, no?

 

 

It really depended on elevation, snow depth, wind effects, ski width, pitch of the slope, turn shape, underlying trail surface, etc. etc.  That shot of the tracks there was up above 3,000’, and at those elevations, unless one was in a wind-scoured area, you could definitely make most turns on appropriate terrain (not overly steep) without much concern for touching down to the ground, depending to some degree on one’s weight and ski width.  Those tracks shown are also on the Perry Merrill trail, which has a moderate pitch – one wouldn’t necessarily be able to say the same thing about the skiing on steeper, black diamond-type slopes, where the turns create more pressure.  Another thing to note is the consistency of the snow – if you look closely at that picture you’ll see that the edges of the tracks are fairly well-defined, vertical walls.  That’s a sign of powder that is typically on the denser side of the spectrum, or may have settled over time or been compressed by wind.  That type of powder holds its form well and doesn’t collapse because it coalesces and is not overly fluffy.  You’ll also notice that the tracks aren’t actually all that deep, just a few inches, and that’s also a sign of higher density and incompressibility.  Indeed it seems that although the snow up there wasn’t really wet, it was comprised of small flakes, and they pack closer and denser.  Snow like that helps to keep you from touching down on the ground below.

 

Contrast those tracks in the image above to the one shown in the image below from December 23rd last year.  That track is much deeper (probably 1 to 2 feet deep) and you can pick out other differences such as how there is snow sprayed along the edges of the track.  You can also see how the sides of the track are ill defined because the snow along the edges collapses inward.  My analyses from the house indicated that that snow was very light and fluffy when it fell, as low as 2-3% H2O in some of the smaller accumulations I measured.

 

 

The snow in the first picture is great, but the snow in the second picture is pretty much the stuff of dreams for powder skiers.  Anyway, the point of the two pictures was just to point out that we weren’t skiing that light and fluffy type of snow.  If we were, we would have been skiing on the ground since there’s no base yet.  Thanks to the Perry Merrill trail having plenty of grass vs. rocks, we were actually in very good shape down to 3,000’, and even down to 2,500’ on Saturday.  Below that we were definitely encountering some rocks, especially on Sunday, and we even decided to walk down below 2,000’ that day instead of skiing the last bit.  So indeed some rocks were there this weekend, warranting the use of rock skis, but up in those highest elevations where that picture was taken, it was pretty rock free thanks to the relatively dense snow.

 


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