Tag Archives: October

One last bout of snow for October

A radar image showing snow falling in the Adirondacks and in the Green Mountains of Vermont on Halloween
Radar image on Halloween night snowing snow in the Adirondacks and along the spine of the Green Mountains that prompted me to check on the type of precipitation we were receiving at the house.

After our big autumn storm that brought substantial wind and power outages to Vermont (including our house), cold air came into the area today and brought one last snowfall for the month on Halloween.  Powderfreak is out of town, but his colleagues at Stowe kept him apprised of what was going on at the mountain with pictures of the fresh snow.

As is typical for this type of weather setup with a flow from the Great Lakes, the areas around the mountains often get the most vigorous precipitation, which can lower snow levels down to the valleys.  I wasn’t home during the day to see if anything frozen fell at our house, but I wouldn’t be surprised if we got something.

There was additional precipitation while we were out in town for Trick-or Treating with the boys, with fairly heavy rain at times, and when we got home I saw that the moisture was still pushing into the mountains.  With the temperatures dropping into the 30s F I went out to check the precipitation during one of the heavier bursts, and sure enough, there were some partially frozen aggregates coming down, which confirms a trace of snow for today’s records. 

It’s interesting to note that if we hadn’t picked up any frozen today that would have been the first time in the 12 years we’ve been at this location that we didn’t get any frozen precipitation in October.  So that streak continues for now, but it’s still 12 days later than the mean, and of course it’s the latest “first frozen precipitation” we’ve seen here.  I guess with as warm as this October was, it’s nice to even get anything frozen, and at least the snowfall season is officially underway here.

Now it’s on to November, with more substantial chances for snow growing by the day.

Next October snow as we approach Halloween

An image of Mt. Mansfield in Vermont with some October snow as viewed from the University of Vermont in Burlington
Mt. Mansfield and its latest coating of snow seen from Burlington

We’ve had plenty of pleasantly benign weather days this month, but yesterday was one of those raw October days that really speak to the seasonal progression.  Temperatures in the valleys even stayed well down in the 40s F, and a storm passing through the area brought bouts of heavy rain that made walking around outside a rather rough experience.  I wasn’t sure if this storm was actually cold enough to bring in some snow to the area, but sure enough, Powderfreak was already posting snowy images from Mansfield this morning and letting us know that the snow level was down to 3,000 feet.  Once the clouds began to break away from the mountains in the afternoon I was able to snap an image from my office of the new white near the peak of Mansfield behind some of the colorful foliage still hanging on in the Champlain Valley.  We’ve got a potent storm coming into the area Sunday that is expected to bring a lot of wind and rain, and next week there’s the chance for a bit more snow in the area as we get some cooler temperature and a flow that could bring moisture over from the Great Lakes.

First October snow for the Green Mountains of Vermont

An image of Mt. Mansfield in Vermont with a bit of October snow atop the Chin
Today you can still see a bit of snow atop Mt. Mansfield above 3,500′ or so.

It hasn’t been an especially cool fall thus far in Vermont, and in fact we had some rather warm days with temperatures up to 90 degrees F for the Champlain Valley last month.  It’s hard to think of potential snow with temperatures like that!  Due to the heat, we actually delayed our September apple picking trip to Boyer’s Orchard with the Bennetts and the Burseys for one week to wait for a more autumnal feel.  The temperatures and generally fair weather have certainly made for some fantastic outdoor activities, but the warmth may have altered the timeline for the development of the fall foliage color.  In any event, by the beginning of last week I could already see that we were past peak color in the Winooski Valley.  Bare trees were numerous throughout the hillsides, leaving at least small gaps in the colorful views.

It’s funny, but despite the warm weather in recent weeks, we actually had some September snowfall on Mt. Mansfield and other peaks in the region.  We don’t get September snow every year, so it’s quite interesting that things came together to put some white on the peaks so early during a warm period.

With the fall foliage around and especially with the colors now beginning to wind down, more snow usually isn’t far behind, and indeed today’s dramatic drop in temperatures from the 70s F we had just yesterday evening made it really feel like we were transitioning further into fall.  We never got out of the 40s F in the valleys, so there was definitely a bit of a bite out there with wind on top of those temperatures.  While heading to a class today here on the UVM campus, it absolutely felt like one of those days where it could easily be snowing along the spine.  And, lo and behold, when I later checked in on the Northern New England fall thread on the American Weather Forums, Powderfreak was already reporting accumulating snow down to 2,700’ on Mt. Mansfield.  He posted some additional pictures later, showing how the snow had a hard time accumulating on the warm ground in most areas and was typically found on the trees.  He did report snowfall down as low as 1,500’ in elevation though, probably via help from the orographics of the Green Mountain Spine.  The Bolton Valley Facebook page also posted an image of flakes getting down to the Village, and I’m sure many of the local mountains saw flakes as well.

I hear Killington also took advantage of the cooler temperatures to test the snow guns, so we’re certainly on our way.  The longer range forecasts suggest a possible stretch of colder weather near the end of the month into November, so we’ll see what potential that brings with regard to manmade or natural snow.

Bolton Valley, VT 28OCT2016

An image of ski tracks in powder snow on the Lower Turnpike trail at Bolton Valley Resort in Vermont
Taking advantage of our recent plentiful snows to get in my first turns of the season

We’ve had an impressive run of October snow over the past week in Vermont’s Green Mountains.  It started off with the big synoptic storm last weekend that dropped a foot or so of dense snow in the in the higher elevations.  After the system passed, we sat in the leftover cyclonic flow centered off toward the Canadian Maritimes for a few days, and that brought additional rounds of accumulating upslope snow.  And most recently, we had another large storm that started up yesterday.  It hit hard overnight and continued into today, delivering another 6 to 8 inches of hefty snow.  For local ski areas that have been keeping track of the accumulations, here’s what I’ve seen reported for totals this past week:

Stowe: 20”
Bolton Valley: 19”
Sugarbush: 19”
Killington: 17.5”

The snow that’s fallen is by no means just fluff – it’s really hefty stuff with a lot of water in it.  Thus there hasn’t been a lot of settling, and the snow has really put down quite a base.  Indeed, the ski resorts know what a substantial contribution this snow can represent to the start of their base building – Killington opened up for lift-served skiing starting on Tuesday, and even Stowe has started making snow, which they would never do in October if they didn’t think they’d be able to hold onto a good amount of it heading into November.

“…I was really psyched with how the turns felt – they were actually some of the easiest first turns of the season that I can recall in a long time, so I guess my legs are ready.”

I wasn’t able to get out for the last big storm on Sunday, but I had a bit of time this morning and had a chance to head up to Bolton Valley to check out what had transpired in the higher elevations and catch a few turns.  The bulk of the snow fell last night while it was dark, so I really only knew what was going on at our place down at 500’ in the Winooski Valley.  It was snowing for much of the evening, although it only accumulated to 0.2” due to the marginal temperatures in the 34 to 35 F range.  When I checked on the weather this morning, it appeared as though the snow level had crept upward a bit because our precipitation at the house was a mix of mostly rain with just a bit of snow.  That had me a little concerned about just how high the snow level had climbed, but so much liquid had fallen by that point (0.79” in our gauge) that there had to be a lot of snow up high.

An image showing heavy October snowfall at Bolton Valley Ski Resort in Vermont
Arriving in the Village to heavy snowfall

I assembled my ski gear for a tour, paying special attention to not miss any of those items that one can often forget on that first outing of the season, and headed up to Bolton.  On the way up the Bolton Valley Access Road I saw the first signs of what I think was vestigial snow from last night’s lower snow levels at around 1,000’.  Snow quickly began to appear more frequently above that point, and it was around 1,400’ when the precipitation changed over to all snow.  Up in the Village lots at 2,000’ it was dumping big, fat flakes up to 2” in diameter.  It was hard to get a handle on how much snow fell from this most recent event since it was on top of previous rounds of snow, but depending on when the last plowing happened, I was finding 4” new in the 2,000’ elevation lot.  The mountain was reporting 6-8”, which didn’t surprise me at all for the higher elevations.

“It was a great ascent, temperatures were right around the freezing mark, there was no wind, and those huge flakes just kept pouring down.”

I headed up the usual Lower Turnpike ascent route, and was happy to find that there was a skin track in place from a couple of earlier skiers.  It was a great ascent, temperatures were right around the freezing mark, there was no wind, and those huge flakes just kept pouring down.  I only had enough time to make it up to the intersection with the Wilderness Lift Line at ~2,500’, but I’d pressed a quick pace and got a decent workout nonetheless.  When I began my descent I was really psyched with how the turns felt – they were actually some of the easiest first turns of the season that I can recall in a long time, so I guess my legs are ready.  And, as I noted earlier, this snow is most certainly not fluff – it’s dense with lots of liquid in it.  There was no concern about hitting the ground on turns, and there’s actually hardly any brush even showing on the trails.  The skiing was great; they certainly weren’t the highest “quality” October turns I’ve had with respect to snow consistency, but the snow certainly wasn’t sopping wet. I was happy to be on my115 mm fats to keep myself from getting bogged down in that dense stuff though.  I’d recommend going fairly fat for anyone that is heading up for some turns in this snow.  The snow though dense, actually delivered some nice powder turns.

An image snowing the total snow depth on October 28th at an elevation of 2,500' at Bolton Valley Ski Resort in VermontDuring my tour I checked total snow depth frequently, and I’d say it was something in the range of 8-12” at 2,000’, and a solid 15” at 2,500’.  I’m not sure how much more it increased above that point, but 15” at 2,500’ is obviously great for October.  All I can say is “wow” with regard to the coverage on those trails though.  It’s been an impressive series of storms up high, and I can’t wait until we can get into some more winter storm cycles, which at this point appears like it will be a week or two away in November.  Whatever the case, it would be nice to get at least a bit of a break from storms to take care of the lawn and everything else around the house that needs to be prepped for winter.

First storm of the winter season in the Greens

An image from the Burlington National Weather Service showing projected snow accumulations for our first October snowstorm of the season
The projected accumulations of roughly a foot of snow in the higher elevations of the Green Mountains came to fruition today.

We’ve had several days to watch the forecasts building up to a potential first snowfall of the 2016-2017 winter season for the Green Mountains of Vermont.  The storm was projected to move along the coast and up into the Canadian Maritimes, which, as usual, would put it at the point where cold, moist air could wrap around and hit the spine of the Greens from the northwest.  Yesterday afternoon the snow levels began to drop toward the summits, and as daylight began to fade we were able to see that snow was starting to accumulate up near 4,000’ via the new Lincoln Peak Snow Cam.  At around 10:30 P.M. I looked outside and saw that snow had made it all the way down to our house at just 500’ in the Winooski Valley, which meant that the mountains were well into the snow.  We’d accumulated a couple of tenths of an inch of snow at the house before I headed off to bed.

As of this morning we’d picked up about a half inch of snow down at the house, and accumulations reports began to come in from around the area.  One of the more surprising results the storm was just how much snow had accumulated at relatively low elevations on the western slopes of the GreensThere were reports of up to 6 inches of dense snow in areas that still had substantial leaves on their trees, and combined with some aggressive winds that meant downed trees, travel difficulties, and some power outages.

In the higher elevations, Powderfreak reported finding 5.5 inches at 1,500’ the base of Stowe Mountain Resort, a foot at 2,000’ – 2,500’, and accumulations seemed to generally top out in that range up and down the Central and Northern Green MountainsBolton Valley reporting 9 inches, 11 inches were found at the Mount Mansfield Stake, and there were images of waist-deep drifts at Jay Peak.  I didn’t get a chance to get out on the slopes because we were down at a New England Revolution match at Gillette Stadium, but it looked like the dense snow did a decent job of covering up surfaces to enable some fun October turns.  The weather looks relatively cool this week, so the snow shouldn’t be going anywhere immediately, and I heard Killington even plans to open on Tuesday to start the lift-served ski season.

First Waterbury snow of the season

An image of snow and leaves from an October snowfall in Waterbury, Vermont
Some of today’s snow at the house in Waterbury, with a little foliage thrown in

While the Green Mountains had already been whitened at the very beginning of the month, this weekend has featured the first skiers hitting the slopes, and the first notable snow accumulations in the valleys. Here at our house in Waterbury we’ve picked up nearly two inches of snow between the various rounds of flakes over the past couple of days, and with intermittent clouds and sun at times, people have been out getting some great pictures of snow and foliage. Here’s to what is hopefully the first of many great snowfalls to come this season!

Vermont Snow: Two more rounds for October

The appearance of snow in the higher elevations here in the Northeastern U.S. is definitely becoming more frequent as we approach November, and we’ve had two more rounds of Vermont snow in the past week. The first took place on the 26th as a low pressure system made its way across the area, with fairly high snow levels around 3,000′. Then the peaks were whitened again as of this morning with more snow. This latest event was also fairly warm, with snow levels up above 3,000′, but cold air is expected to come in as we enter November, dropping snow levels all the way to the lower mountain valleys. None of these systems have delivered snow amounts worthy of much more than junkboarding, but it’s been nice to have white in the peaks along with October’s foliage. It won’t be long before the snowfall amounts should increase and start to stick around for the winter.

Vermont snow levels lowering

An image of October snow on the Bolton Valley Web Cam
The Bolton Valley web cam showing that snow made it down to the elevation of the Bolton Valley Village today

As the forecasts suggested, colder temperatures came into New England overnight, dropping freezing levels for another round of Vermont Snow. In the Northern New England thread at the American Weather Forum, Powderfreak contributed several pictures of the snow at Stowe, Eyewall provided some from Bolton Valley, and Borderwx added one from Jay Peak. Notable accumulations made it down all the way to 2,000’, which is the lowest so far this season. Some grainy snow even accumulated briefly on our picnic table down at our house at the 500’ in the Winooski Valley, and that’s just about average for picking up our first traces of snow at our location. I’ve added the text from my report to American Weather below:

“We just documented our first frozen precipitation and accumulation of the season down here at 500’ in the valley. It started pouring out a few minutes ago as one of those bursts of precipitation came through in the northwest flow – you can see those yellow 28 db returns that disappear as the pulse of moisture barrels into the mountains:

A radar image showing a pulse of moisture that brought October snow to our house in Waterbury
As a pulse of heavier moisture ran into the mountains today, it dropped snow all the way down to our house in the Winooski Valley

Hearing the racket of the heavy precipitation outside, I decided to check out on the back deck because I know how these things sometimes go – indeed there was frozen precipitation among the rain, in the form of sleet and other dense granules that can typically make it down through the warmer layers of the atmosphere. I don’t even have my snowboard set up yet, but our picnic table out back sufficed to catch the accumulation. Seasonally, the timing of this event was right on track, with the mean for the first trace of snow here at Oct 20th from nine seasons of data. The event has actually brought the median value for that first trace of frozen down from Oct 21st to be right in line with that mean date of the 20th, and the S.D. dropped from seven days to six, so it’s helped to tighten up the data spread. The accumulation might have actually reached the 0.1” threshold for an official accumulation, but I was definitely caught off guard and by the time I grabbed my ruler and made measurements, all the accumulation was below that 0.1” mark so it will have to go down as a trace.”

Vermont Snow: First of the season

We’ve been hearing mentions of snow in the recent weather forecasts, mostly about how we’re getting close to those temperatures where the mountains can start to see flakes, and today I saw the first reports of snow up in the higher elevations. One of the engineers manning the broadcast equipment up on Mt. Mansfield snapped a picture of some of the flakes falling to document the first Vermont snow of the season. It’s not too surprising, with Mt. Mansfield close to the freezing mark this morning along the ridge line. A bit higher up, the summit of Mt. Washington in New Hampshire is sub freezing at this point. It’s October now, and although it looks like we’ll have plenty of nice weather coming over the next week, it’s the time of year when the mountains can start getting snow at any time, so we’ll be on the lookout for upcoming snow chances.

Stowe, VT 27OCT2013

An image of Erica skiing in powder on the Perry Merrill trail at Stowe Mountain Resort in Vermont after some October snow
Back out for more October powder today

Dylan and E didn’t get to head out to the slopes yesterday, but after what Ty and I experienced, it seemed like it was worth heading back to Stowe for more.  We were hoping that the quality of the snow would hold up, but rising temperatures were a concern – by late morning at our house, lengthy periods of sunshine had already pushed the temperature into the upper 40s F.  If Stowe was encountering similar conditions, the freezing line, and the availability of reasonably dry snow, was going to rise way up in elevation.

“…E was really putting  
out some great turns on  
her Teles. I was wishing
I could make Telemark
turns like hers today!”

Fortunately, Old Man Winter was still playing around just to the north.  The sun that we were encountering in Waterbury quickly faded behind clouds and increasing precipitation as we headed north through Waterbury Center, and by the time we were passing through Moscow, the temperature had dropped to 40 F and we were under moderate rainfall.  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.  Temperatures were still quite cool there at 1,600’, in fact, at 37 F it was a degree cooler than what Ty and I had encountered when we’d arrived yesterday.  The precipitation had also changed over to light snow.

In order to let both boys go with their alpine skis as Ty had done yesterday, we gave them the Alpine Trekkers, and E and I used Telemark skis.  We followed the same ascent route along Perry Merrill and Gondolier that Ty and I took yesterday.  Once we got up around 2,500’, there was an excellent skin track along the climbers left of Gondolier, and it helped us make some good time.  Dylan seemed to enjoy his ascent, getting his first chance to try out the Trekkers, and his first chance to try out his new Measurement Ski Pole.  He was keeping up a great pace, and even as I was following along behind Ty at what seemed like a decent ascent speed, I was often surprised to look back and see Dylan right there nipping at my heels.

Although snow had definitely melted back somewhat in the lowest elevations, once we got up to around 2,000’, the snow depths actually seemed like they’d gained about an inch over what we’d found yesterday.  We decided to stop our ascent at ~3,200’ on Perry Merrill based on what we saw for conditions above that and Dylan’s energy level, but we were well up into the dry snow by that point.  Here are the typical snow depths that we found in the ascent, this time with three of us teaming up to contribute to the numbers:

1,600’: 0-2”
2,000’: 4-7”
2,500’: 7-9”
3,000’: 9-11”
3,200’: 11”+

As we took a break high on the mountain and got ready for the descent, we experienced notably different weather conditions than what Ty and I had dealt with yesterday.  Gone was the pounding snowfall, we just had some clouds, and there were plenty of pockets of sunshine around.  It was still below freezing up at that level however, so everyone made sure to quickly put on their extra layers before they chilled down after the hike.  E got a call from Claire, who’d suspected that it was our car she’d seen at the base, and a conditions report was passed along.

An image of Ty skiing powder on the Perry Merrill trail at Stowe in October
Back in the powder again

Once again, Perry Merrill looked good for the descent, so we took the route that Ty and I had used yesterday, especially since we had some good knowledge of the conditions.  Ty really liked the conditions high up on the hill, while I think things were a step down from yesterday.  The snow sort of transitioned from somewhat wind-affect, upside-down powder, to thicker, spring-like snow.  I think that one less day of settling/weather affects, and the fresh snow that was falling, really helped to enhance things yesterday.  We definitely got some good turns though, and there were plenty of fresh lines left to ski.  I definitely had a more challenging descent that yesterday, switching from fat alpine skis to skinny Telemark skis, but E was really putting out some great turns on her Teles.  I was wishing I could make Telemark turns like hers today!  In later discussion, she was thinking that it might be all the extra support she’s getting from her new boots, and if that’s the case, they are definitely doing their job.

An image of ski tracks in powder on the Perry Merrill trail at Stowe Mountain Resort in Vermont after an October snowstorm
The powder seemed a bit more settled and dense today, but Mansfield was still offering up great turns.

An image of Ty finishing an October ski descent  on Mt. Mansfield in Vermont by hiking to the bottomWe decided to stop our ski descent at the 2,000’ mark, because the snow was just getting a little too thin for E and the boys to be continuing on their non-rock skis.  It was a quick walk down back to the car into what was becoming a beautiful afternoon, and it was nothing like the maelstrom of wet snow that Ty and I had to deal with yesterday.  Everyone felt like they’d gotten in a good workout, so a trip to The Whip was in order to finish off the evening.  This October weekend has really marked a great start to the ski season, and we’re hoping there are more like it to come.