First Round of October 2022 Snow for Vermont’s Green Mountains

Since our first snows of the season back in September, we’ve moved on into a new month and another window for early season snowfall.  This time the snow chances are associated with a series of small disturbances that started moving into the area last night and are expected to continue through the weekend.

The first notifications I saw of accumulation appeared this morning in the Northern New England Cold Season thread on the American Weather Forums – Powderfreak indicated that it was snowing all the way down to 1,500’ at the base of Stowe Mountain Resort, and flakes were even spotted as low as 1,000’ around The Matterhorn.  Powderfreak posted some images from both the top and bottom of the Stowe Gondola that showed the fresh snow.  As the snow and clouds pulled away a bit more by midday, he posted a beautiful snowliage image of some of Mount Mansfield’s slopes.

The temperatures stayed cold enough throughout the day that new snow continued to hang around on the ground, with the snow line rising to around 2,400’ in the midafternoon period.  Powderfreak sent along some additional nice views from his afternoon hike on the slopes of Mansfield, and he commented on how it was nice to be back out with the crunch of snow underfoot.

First snows of the 2022-2023 season in the Green Mountains

I think it’s been a little while since we’ve had September snows here in the Green Mountains, but the mountains picked up some snow today for their first frozen accumulations of the 2022-2023 winter season.

The weather models have been indicating an early season shot of cool air visiting our area for several days now, with sub-freezing 850 mb temperatures dipping south of the Canadian border.  Residual moisture was expected to be around in the mountains as the colder air moved in to provide some flakes, and indeed that’s what we saw.

Reports of snow seemed most notable in the Central Greens around the Sugarbush area, and Powderfreak linked to a video of the flakes falling at Sugarbush Resort.  He also passed along a nice image of accumulations at the Battell Shelter on the Long Trail, which is in the Lincoln, VT area

A bit farther north on Mount Mansfield, the reports and pictures indicated that there was some glazing from accumulated ice.

After a fairly dry summer, the weather pattern has changed over the past few weeks to produce frequent synoptic precipitation, so let’s hope that sticks around we continue into the snow season!

Stowe, VT 01MAY2022

An image showing some of the Mount Mansfield ski trails from near the summit of Spruce Peak at Stowe Mountain Resort in Vermont
An image of the Main Street trail on a May ski outing at Stowe Mountain Resort in Vermont
A view of some of the spring snow on Main Street today during my ski tour

While Friday turned out to be a bit too cool and breezy to really soften up the slopes around here, and yesterday didn’t seem much better, today saw more warmth and sunshine as the forecast had suggested.  Mother Nature really wasn’t messing around, with temperatures moving up into the 60s F, a cloudless sky, and the disappearance of those persistent winds.

An image of the Chin of Mt. Mansfield in Vermont as viewed from the Moscow area
The Mt. Mansfield Chin poking up in the background from the Moscow area

There was no question about whether or not the snow was going to soften up today, so I decided to head to Stowe for some afternoon turns.  I hadn’t been to the general Stowe area in a while, but the usual views of Mansfield started to appear as I headed through Waterbury Center, and the alpine terrain was certainly lit up in the May sunshine.

I’d hoped that the south-facing terrain of Spruce Peak still had enough coverage to provide some nice uninterrupted turns, and indeed as I approached the resort I could see that the Main Street area and surrounding trails still had nearly continuous snow down the base of the Sensation Quad.

With the route I took on the lower part of the mountain, I ended up hiking about 1/3 of the ascent, and then skinning the final 2/3.  I was initially questioning my decision to bring skins as I navigated the lower slopes, but once I hit the point where I started skinning, it was definitely the right choice in terms of efficiency; the upper slopes of Main Street have so much snow that it would take more effort to find dry areas for easier hiking.

In terms of the skiing, it was far superior to what I had experienced on Friday.  The warmth and sun took care of getting the spring snow into something that was definitely worthy of turns.  It wasn’t perfect, because there were still some sticky areas from recent snows on terrain that hadn’t seen the sun and/or skier traffic, but those were generally avoidable by skiing the sunnier sides of the trails.

With such a gorgeous day, I was surprised that I didn’t see a single other skier out there during my entire tour on Spruce.  I did see two other cars when I first arrived at the MMSC Clubhouse parking lot, but they were just hikers.  I saw them finishing up their hikes while I was ascending, and the entire parking lot was empty when I got back to my car.  Everyone must have been skiing over at Mansfield!

An image of a single car in the parking lot of the Mount Mansfield Ski Club during a May ski outing at Stowe Mountain Ski Resort in Vermont
The Mount Mansfield Ski Club parking lot where I parked today was just about empty.

A second round of snow for the Green Mountains

An image of the Sugarbush upper mountain webcam showing some October snow on their snowboard as well as the boughs of the nearby evergreens
A view of the Sugarbush upper-mountain webcam from this afternoon showing a touch of new snow with what looks like some additional frozen precipitation weighing down the evergreen boughs

Exactly a week ago, we had our first round of mountain snows for the season here in the Green Mountains, and the latest system moving into the area brought the next round last night into today.  Morning reports came in to the Northern New England thread at the American Weather Forum, with flakes seen down to 1,500’ in Jackson, NH.  Powderfreak reported that the ski trails at Stowe were all white above ~2,400’.  It appears that much of Northern New England has been seeing snow today above ~2,500’, but the persistent clouds and precipitation haven’t quite given us the options for viewing the snow that we had with the previous system.  I was able to check out the Sugarbush upper mountain camera this afternoon and catch a view of the snow and drooping evergreen boughs from frozen accumulation, but that’s as much as I’ve been able to see from the valley.

​Based on Powderfreak’s comments of seeing some frozen precipitation last night at his place in the Stowe Village area, it sounds like we might have gotten our first frozen of the season down at our house in Waterbury as well.  I hadn’t seen anything before heading off to bed, and unfortunately, any frozen precipitation would likely have fallen in the wee hours of the morning as Powderfreak noted.

First round of snow for the season in the Greens

An image showing mid-October snow accumulating at the upper mountain snowboard webcam at Sugarbush Resort in Vermont
Snow accumulating today at the upper mountain snowboard webcam at Sugarbush Resort

Temperatures have been well above average over the past several weeks here in Vermont, but cooler temperatures moved in on Sunday, and reports of flakes and snow accumulations started coming out of the local mountains today.  In the early afternoon, we heard reports of snow above 3,300’ on the Stowe Gondola, and the Sugarbush summit camera at 4000’ was showing accumulation.  Later in the day, accumulation was seen down to 2,000’ at Stowe, with snow falling at the base area at 1,500’.

Stowe, VT 16MAY2021

An image from near the Mt. Mansfield Base Lodge showing Smuggler's Notch and various clouds on a spring ski day with thunderstorms in the area near Stowe Mountain Ski Resort in Vermont
An image of the Lower Standard trail with late-season leftover snow in mid-May at Stowe Mountain Ski Resort in Vermont
Heading up Lower Standard today, I found a little something extra that someone left alongside the snow.

On Friday, we got another update on the state of the snow on Spruce Peak from one of Powderfreak’s frequent Stowe hikes, and I could definitely see that the width of the available snow had contracted some since when I was there on my Sunday outing.

I had enough extra time today, so I headed back out to Stowe for a hike and some more turns.  Based on what I’d seen on Spruce on my last outing, as well as the views across to Mansfield at that point, I decided it was time to check out something by the Mountain Triple.  There’s some easy access snow right down to the base over there, and that fit the time I had.

An image at the junction of the Crossover and Standard trails in mid-May at Stowe Mountain Ski Resort in Vermont
Topping out near the Crossover Trail on today’s hike

As I walked along past the Triple, I surveyed the snow situation and headed toward Lower Standard, which seemed to have the best coverage.  That area makes for a pleasant stroll because it’s generally quite grassy with modest pitches.  Somebody had built the shape of a heart out of rocks on the ground near the ropes course, so that was kind of a nice accent to the area.  The snow on Lower Standard is definitely more broken up than what it was a week earlier, and there are a couple of gaps near the bottom that are really best walked vs. trying to skip across on your skis.

That afternoon we had thunderstorms in the area, and as usual, there were some great views surrounding the resort and toward the Notch as the peaks worked their magic and forced the clouds around.  While I was hiking I started to hear thunder to the east and northeast, off past Spruce Peak and over toward Madonna and Sterling.  Eventually I started to see some tendrils of virga over there, and the thunder was becoming more expansive.  I was just getting up toward the Crossover elevation, which was about where I was going to stop anyway because the snow petered out there, but the timing seemed good with the thunder building.  I started seeing the first visible flashes from lightning just as I was getting back to the car, and the first drops of rain began to fall, so that timing really did work out well.  I would have stayed around for some lightning photography over toward the Notch, but none if was producing visible bolts, it all seemed to be well up in the clouds or too distant.

Stowe, VT 09MAY2021

An image of the snow on the Main Street Trail on a May ski day at Stowe Mountain Resort in Vermont
An image showing some of the remaining snow on May on the Spruce Peak trails at Stowe Mountain Resort in Vermont
Looking up at the slopes of Spruce Peak today to get a sense for the best areas to put together some turns.

I haven’t been following the state of the snowpack at Stowe too closely over the past couple of weeks, but Powderfreak’s recent post on American Weather forum definitely provided a nice look at some of the snow on the slopes of Spruce Peak.  I probably wouldn’t have even had Spruce Peak in the mix of top spots to head for turns if I hadn’t seen how much snow was still there, but it was obvious from the post that there was plenty.

Today I had time to get out for exercise, so I chose to enjoy a hike and ski in the Main Street area.  The snowpack is certainly not continuous top-to-bottom of course, but there’s several hundred vertical feet worth of nice turns with deep base as Powderfreak’s image showed.  The snowpack there is starting to get a bit sun cupped, but it’s nothing that really hurts the experience yet at this point, unless perhaps you were to stray the extreme edges where the snow has taken a bigger hit and there’s been no skier traffic.

An image of late-season snow left over from snowmaking on the Main Street Trail in the Spruce Peak area of Stowe Mountain Ski Resort
I was encouraged by plenty of spots with deep snow on my ascent of Main Street today.

Even if natural snowpack on Mansfield is still below average for this time of year, I have to think the coverage there on south-facing Spruce had got be at least typical for this far into May.  From the view across the resort, I could see that the usual spots like Nosedive and some of those areas around the Mountain Triple still have some decent coverage, so it would be fun to mix it up with something over there next.  That Main Street snow has some very deep areas, but it’s just getting a bit too broken up into segments that one eventually has to make the call to go with something with a bit more continuity for efficiency and longer flow of turns on the descent.

An image from Spruce Peak showing the snow in mid-May on the Nosedive trail on Mt. Mansfield at Stowe Mountain Ski Resort in Vermont
Checking out the snow on Nosedive as I look across from Spruce Peak toward Mt. Mansfield

It is always fun this time of year getting to see which parts of the resort are holding the snow best for those late season turns.  It’s different each season depending on the combination of where Mother Nature deposited snow and where the guns were blowing when temperatures were optimal as has been noted in some of Powderfreak’s comments in ski-related discussions at American Weather.

Bolton Valley, VT 02JAN2021 (P.M.)

An image looking westward down the Winooski Valley of Vermont near the Bolton Flats area after some snow from Winter Storm John
An image of Holiday lights outside The Mad Taco restaurant in the Village area of Bolton Valley Ski Resort in Vermont
Enjoying some of the snow-covered holiday lights at dusk in the Bolton Valley Village after my ski tour today

With the way it had been dumping inch/hr snowfall when I headed home around noontime, I decided it would be worth another session in the afternoon.  This time I went for a tour on Wilderness, which had its uphill route officially reopened as of today thanks to the accumulations from Winter Storm John.  There had been additional snow, and I’d say 6-10” of powder above the base snow would represent a good summary of what I found overall in the 2,000’ to 3,000’ elevation range, which was a combination of the snow from this storm on top of the accumulations from previous events.  With Bolton Valley providing access to the entire Wilderness Lift area of moderate-angle, cut trails all starting above 2,000’, I’m sure a lot of folks see it as a very good option with the rather thin base currently in place at lower elevations.  That, and the fact that it was a holiday weekend, meant that there was a lot of uphill traffic.  Fortunately, there was still decent access to untracked powder along the edges of trails, and the turns were quite good and bottomless on low and moderate-angle terrain with the recent snow we’ve picked up.

An image of the sign for "The Mad Taco" restaurant in Waitsfield, VermontWe’d been looking for an opportunity to try out The Mad Taco Bolton, so I place my order from the car before I started my ascent, and then timed my tour to be able to make the pick-up.  It worked quite well, and I got to see the way they’ve set up the restaurant for the first time.  It looks like there are a number of tables in there that folks will be able to use once in-person dining is back in action, although for now it’s takeout only.  The food was great though, just like we’ve had from their other locations!

An image of a vehicle covered in snow from Winter Storm John in the Village area at Bolton Valley Ski Resort in Vermont
A view of some of the snow from Winter Storm John on a nearby vehicle as I start my tour in the Wilderness are today

One more round of October snow for Vermont

An image of Mt. Mansfield in Vermont taken from the Burlington area in late October showing some valley foliage and snow in the mountain peaks from a recent storm
An image of Mt. Mansfield in Vermont taken from the Burlington area in late October showing some valley foliage and snow in the mountain peaks from a recent storm
An image of Mt. Mansfield today taken from my office at UVM showing signs from the recent storm and fall foliage still hanging on in the valley.

The local mountains picked up some more snow in what looks to be our final snowfall event for the month of October.  Down here in the valley at our house, I found a few flakes on my snow measurement board yesterday evening, but no measurable accumulation.  This storm was more notable down in Southern New England where there were totals up around 7 inches in the Worcester, Mass area.

Powderfreak got a beautiful picture of the slopes of Stowe Mountain Resort today, which he posted in the Northern New England thread at the American Weather Forums.  I grabbed a shot of Mt. Mansfield from the other side of the range when I was in my office today because it was so great to see the snow starting to come back to the peaks.

Accumulating snow for the mountains of Vermont

An image of the Mt. Mansfield Chin in Vermont with some early season October snow
An image of foliage in the Newport, VT area along Lake Memphremagog with the mountain Owl's Head visible off in Canada.
Foliage in the Newport, VT area along Lake Memphremagog with the mountain Owl’s Head visible off in Canada.

A low pressure system moving along the coast of New England brought a chance for some accumulating snow to Vermont starting last night, and white could be seen in the peaks this morning.  The snow line over here in Vermont seemed to be around 2,500’, with a very sharp elevation cutoffAccumulations were 3-4” up around 4,000’ on Mt Mansfield, and similar atop Jay Peak.  I heard reports of some frozen precipitation up high earlier this season, but this was the first notable accumulation around here.  Off to the east over in New Hampshire and Maine, the snow line was much lower, and accumulations were even more substantial.  Some accumulations in northern New Hampshire were over a foot.

An image of the Mt. Mansfield Chin in Vermont with some early season October snow
The Mt. Mansfield Chin today with some early season October snow

While in many areas around the state, the leaves have mostly fallen and it’s looking like stick season, there are still a lot of beautiful scenes with fall foliage.  We were up in Newport today for a soccer game, and the views of foliage along Lake Memphremagog were beautiful.