Christmas upslope snow sets the holiday mood in Northern Vermont

We were away on Christmas Eve, but when we returned to the house yesterday morning, it was snowing.  There was already 0.7 inches of new snow on the snowboard, and you could tell that the intensity was ramping up and more snow was on the way.  We were heading down to Southern New England for more holiday visiting with family, but I cleared the snowboard and set up the web cam so that that any new snowfall could be monitored from afar.  The driving was actually a bit tough through Green Mountains with the incoming snowfall, but once we got east of the Greens it tapered off.

Even though the storm was just an Alberta Clipper, the upslope snow potential of the Northern Green Mountains can always produce more, and I knew we were taking a good hit of snow when I checked my web cam yesterday evening and saw that my four-inch measuring boards were basically buried.  I had to rely on my 12-inch measuring board to get the snowfall measurements off the web cam.  Powderfreak was the best source of updates for the storm though, and he kept them rolling all night while the Stowe area got blitzed with snow.  He put up some awesome pictures of skiers and tracks in the fresh powder at Stowe Mountain Resort yesterday in the Northern New England thread at American Weather.

By the time the event wound down this morning, we’d picked up 5.1 inches at the house and the local mountains had accumulated about a foot.  For the areas that have reported in so far, I’ve got the north to south list of event totals (48-hour snow totals) at Vermont ski areas below.  The Smugg’s to Bolton stretch along the spine looks to have done nicely with this one, with Mt. Mansfield right in the sweet spot:

Jay Peak: 6”
Burke: 4”
Smuggler’s Notch: 10”
Stowe: 14”
Bolton Valley: 10”
Mad River Glen: 7”
Sugarbush: 4”
Pico: 1”
Killington: 1”
Bromley: 1”
Stratton: 0”
Mount Snow: 1”

The final snow totals for the area shown below in the map from the national weather service with the sweet spot being where that fuchsia color is located around Stowe:

A map of snow totals from the National Weather Service Office in Burlington Vermont for the Alberta Clipper and associated upslope snowon December 25-26, 2011
This Christmas Day Alberta Clipper system really delivered, with a jackpot in the Stowe area that saw totals close to double digits and about a foot in the mountains.

For the full details on this storm, head to the detailed report at the winter weather section of our website.

Stowe, VT 17DEC2011

An image of the Spruce Peak Village area at Stowe Mountain Resort in Vermont on a snowy morning - December 17, 2011
Stowe Mountain Resort: A quiet morning in the Spruce Peak Village area

Today started off great when E woke me up and said that it was snowing, and that we’d already picked up an inch of new snow.  Last I’d heard, the overnight forecast was for partly cloudy, so the snow was quite a surprise.  I measured 1.1 inches of snow on the snowboard at 7:00 A.M., sent in my observations to CoCoRaHS and posted them on American Weather, and then E and I were off to Stowe for school ski program training day.  There was some snow on the way to the mountain, but once we got there we found consistent light snowfall, and it turned out that that’s what we’d encounter all day.  E had arrived early as one of the program coordinators, so the scene in the Spruce Peak Village was incredibly quiet for a Saturday morning.  It wasn’t long though before people began to arrive and the old Day Lodge building where we were set up was bustling.

After about an hour or so of taking care of paperwork for passes and getting tickets, we met up with our instructor Tom, whom we’d had as our instructor a couple years in the past and really enjoyed.  We started out with a few runs on the Adventure Triple Chair on Spruce Peak, where we practiced drills for beginners; it was our first chance to try out Stowe’s new RFID system for lift access.  It worked really well as far as I’m concerned; you just stick your little card in a pocket of your clothing (we were instructed that it’s best to choose a pocket without your credit card or cell phone) you walk up to the turnstiles at the lifts, and they open for you.  You do want to move right through the turnstile though, as I found out when I got lightly smacked from behind by the next bar coming through.  The conditions on the Inspiration trail were certainly decent, a typical man-made surface, although the falling snow did help to freshen it a bit.

“…on my first run I
popped into some
fresh powder below
the Octagon and it
was simply glorious!”

After our time at Inspiration we headed over to Mt. Mansfield for some more advanced drills.  The new Fourrunner Quad is very cool, and whisks you right up the mountain like the old one.  Our ride up felt surprisingly cold though, and with temperatures that we thought were in the 20s F, we figured it had to be our acclimatization.  However, it turns out that temperatures were in the single digits F with wind chills below zero F up high, so it was legitimately cold out there.  I’d heard from Powderfreak in an early morning report on the American Weather forum that they’d received 3 inches of new snow up high, so I was curious to see what the conditions were like.  With only so many trails open, it wasn’t like there was going to be tons of fresh powder, but on my first run I popped into some fresh powder below the Octagon and it was simply glorious!  I’d say there were four inches down by that point, and I wasn’t even touching down to the base on the moderate angle terrain, so it was a real treat.  In fact, the whole top half of that first run on Upper Lord was really impressive in terms of snow conditions.  While it wasn’t fresh powder beyond that first stretch, the new snow added a lot to keep the conditions nice along the side of the trail.  With less fresh snow it wasn’t quite as good on the lower half of the mountain on North Slope, it was more typical surface that one would find any time of year with high traffic.  On our second run we took a different route, with Ridge View up top and Lower Lord down below.  That run was certainly not as glorious, perhaps in part due to another few rounds of traffic, or the fact that Lower Lord was notably scratchier than North Slope.

We headed back to Spruce Camp after that to get our pass pictures taken, have some lunch, and finish up additional paperwork.  It was our first chance to get back to some of that excellent food from the Great Room Grill after the off season, and E and I had a nice lunch of soup and salad.  Tom continued with some great training discussion at lunch, and then E and I headed back over to Mt. Mansfield with him for a couple more runs.  Everyone else had had to leave for various commitments, so basically E and I got a private lesson with Tom for the afternoon.  We had a great time there with a lot of advanced drills and private tutoring.

An image of Mt. Mansfield shrouded in snowfall taken from the Spruce Camp Base Lodge at Stowe Mountain Resort in Vermont

Heading back home later in the afternoon, we stopped in at the Alpine Mart on the Mountain Road for some gas and a snack, and the cashier asked how we were enjoying the sunshine.  I told him that we’d been up on the mountain all day and we hadn’t seen much sun because it was snowing the whole time.  He was pretty excited by that, and commented that they were expecting and other 2 to 4 inches tonight, and then we were going to get blitzed Thursday, Friday, and Saturday, with 8 to 10 inches on Christmas Eve.  The woman next to me commented on how that was going to be horrible for travel, and he said the plows were going to be out all night.  I hadn’t looked at the weather models in a while, but with the surprise shot of snow I could only assume everything had gone topsy-turvy with the forecast.  Anyway, I think his estimate might be a little on the high side for tonight – the forecast seems to be more like partly cloudy and very cold.  I do see the potential Monday, Thursday, and Saturday snowfall events on the ECMWF, but I’m not sure where he’s getting his weather information because it doesn’t look quite like we’re getting the storm he was talking about.

It looked like the sun came out in parts of Waterbury today, because the new snow had disappeared in a lot of spots east of the mountains, but once we headed back toward the spine the accumulations picked back up.  The fluff we’d received overnight at the house had certainly settled some, but I did find a couple of additional tenths of an inch on the snowboard.  It’s also interesting to note that there seemed to be more snow left on the west side of the range – we were in South Burlington in the evening for my sister’s birthday, and they had a good inch of snow there, which is more than we saw back toward the center of Waterbury.  They may have gotten in on some lake-effect snow or enhancement that was going on.  It’s nice to have snow on the ground at this point though, and we’ll have to watch what Mother Nature brings this week as we head toward the holiday.

2010-2011 Ski Season Summary

Having now compiled all our ski trip and winter storm summary reports for the ’10-’11 ski season, I’ve put together this season summary as a view of how things transpired from a Northern Vermont local perspective.  It’s interesting to note that for Burlington, winter ’10-‘11 was well above average for snowfall (128.4”, 175%), while out in the mountains at our house the deviation was much less (197”, 114%), and indeed in the higher elevations of the Northern Greens like Bolton it was even closer to average (330”, 106%), so ski resort snowfall around here was essentially average.  I actually made a chart for a post at Americanwx.com concerning the ’07-’08 season, which used Bolton’s snowfall from the past several seasons as a general indicator of how the snowfall has been in Northern Vermont:

A table showing the snowfall at Bolton Valley Ski Resort in Vermont from the 2006-2007 through to the 2010-2011 season

One can see from the chart that ’10-‘11 was basically average for snowfall, and that the amount of snow (330”) was identical to ’07-’08.  I would add that the general impression was that consistency of winter temperatures was a bit better than average in ’10-‘11 due to fewer warm events, so the quality of snow surfaces was higher.  I’m not sure how much better than average it was though, since it seems that during midwinter, the norm in the higher elevations of the Northern Greens is to have about one warm episode per month.  Also, since we were essentially out of the main track of synoptic storms until February, there wasn’t much in the way of moderate-density snowfall to resurface the slopes.  I try to address the consistency of temperatures/quality of the snow surfaces in the text below though, at least in the context of weekends; I should note that it’s possible there could have been some midweek weather issues that simply flew under the radar for me.  For the quality assessment I simply focused on whether or not we were skiing powder, because unless there is some sort of notable rise in temperatures, there is always powder available.

A monthly breakdown of snowfall and my perspective on the season follows below – you can click on each month (except November) and it should bring up that month’s posts in the J&E Productions Web Log.  I only have the monthly snowfall for my house and not the ski areas, but the percentages relative to average often parallel the mountains reasonably well, especially for Bolton which is right up above us:

October:  Pretty typical in that we got at least some snow for skiing; we had 1.0” of snow at the house.  October snowfall in the lower valleys is often minimal enough that the percentages aren’t all that relevant, but that number is 111% vs. the five year average since we’ve been at our house, so indeed that’s rather “normal”.

November:  Very poor; we got just 2.4” of snow at the house (29% of average) and I don’t really remember it, nor do I have any entries for that month in my ski log, so that says plenty right there.  I do have a vague recollection of storm after storm tracking to our north and west giving us mostly rain though, so that would explain the low snowfall total.  The lack of snowfall wasn’t necessarily a huge concern at the time since it was “only November”, but without good November snowfall, getting to appropriate base depths and excellent skiing in December can be that much harder.

December:  Quite normal, 46.0” of snow at the house (right about average at 102%).  Fortunately, even with minimal November snow we were skiing natural snow terrain by December 10th up at Bolton; the holiday period featured some decent skiing, with 7 outings for me during that stretch, indicating that the snow was obviously OK.  Bolton had picked up 4 feet of snow from the storm at the beginning of the month, however, a lot of that snow, as well as what fell later in the month, was upslope fluff.  So, even if one assumes a fairly average amount of snowfall for the mountains like we saw in the valley, the very dry nature of the snow meant that there was less liquid than usual, resulting in base depths that really didn’t build quickly.  The Boxing Day Storm was unfortunately the start of a pattern that would last the next five to six weeks, with the big synoptic storms staying well south of the region and pounding Southern New England, while northern areas remained on the fringe and essentially survived on fluff.  Temperature consistency/snow surface quality:  Skiing was done on all 4 weekends of the month, and out of the 12 outings in my records, the only outing without powder skiing was Friday, Dec 31st, so that suggests pretty consistent temperatures.

January:  We got 55.5” of snow at the house, which is above average (137%) in what can sometimes be a dry, midwinter month.  However, January was essentially a month-long continuation of the trend that started on Boxing Day, and we were living on mostly Northern Vermont Champlain Powder™ fluff.  We had a couple of good upslope storms in the early to mid part of the month (January 7th and January 12th) that made for some fine skiing, but obviously since so much of it was pixie dust, the base depths just could not build the way that they would with some synoptic storms.  Temperature consistency/snow surface quality:  Skiing was done on all 5 weekends of the month, and out of 11 outings in my records, the only outing without powder skiing was Saturday, Jan 1st due to the warmth at the end of December.  So I think one could argue that weekend ski surface consistency through Dec/Jan was better than average with only one (instead of two) weekend-affecting warm up(s) for the two months.

February:  This is when the storm track finally shifted north and we got some notable synoptic storms; the first one was right on the 1st, and then we had a second storm on the 5th.  That first storm brought just over a foot of snow for us down in the valley, and was by far the largest for the month.  Thus there weren’t really any mega dumps based on my records from the house, but there was plenty of the usual good skiing at Bolton and even good skiing at Stowe.  Snowfall was 48.1”, which is roughly average at 108%.  Temperature consistency/snow surface quality:  Out of the 10 outings in my records, all 10 of them had powder skiing, so February was perfect in that regard.  However, while skiing was done on all 4 weekends of the month, we had to wait until Monday of the long weekend to ski because there had been some sort of warm-up.  So I’d say the month was pretty typical with at least that one warm-up.

March:  We continued to stay in the storm track for most of March, with our biggest valley snowfall of the season (25.0”) coming from the March 5th storm.  We did wind up with notably above average snowfall in the valley for the month (39.6”; 155%), essentially due to that one big storm and aided by the fact that what I’ve got for a March average could be a bit low due to very poor Marches in ’09 (12.6”) and ’10 (2.1”).  Temperature consistency/snow surface quality:  Skiing was done on all 4 weekends of the month, and powder skiing was done on all those weekends, however, there was also notable infiltration of non-powder skiing days into the weekends.  Relative to the previous three months, only 9 of our 12 outings for March featured powder skiing, so while still a pretty good ratio, it was certainly a decrease.  Indeed there were multiple warm ups in the month because those three non-powder days were actually on three different weekends (the 1st, 3rd, and 4th weekends).  Fortunately, those weekends were somewhat redeemed by powder on the other day.  By March, especially toward the end, things may start to fall off a bit from the typical rate of one warm episode per month, but I would expect that with at least 3 individual warm ups in March, it was nothing great or even above average in terms of consistency.

April:  This was again quite a poor month in terms of snowfall and powder skiing; although snowfall correlation between our location down at the house and the mountains can really start to wane as one moves through April and snowfall becomes more and more elevation dependent.  Snowfall at the house was well below average for the month (4.4”; 61%).  We did at least start out the month with a snowstorm on the 1st and another one on the 4th; these events produced some good weekend powder skiing at Bolton and helped the mountain snowpack to surpass 100 inches at the Mt. Mansfield Stake.  However, the snowfall really fell off after that.  Temperature consistency/snow surface quality:  Skiing was done on all 5 weekends of the month, but only 3 out of 9 days had powder and only 2 of the weekends had powder skiing.  People were excited because we had a relatively deep snowpack during the month and coverage stayed longer than normal, but after that first week the storm track had shifted to the north/west and it was just storm after storm that featured warmth and little to no snow, even for the mountains.  I commented on that trend in a post at Americanwx.com, since there can easily be feet of snow in the higher elevations in April, and instead of just some corn days or spring crud, we could have been skiing some great powder.

May:  The May skiing was good due to the healthy snowpack, and I did get out in the powder on the 6th for top to bottom skiing on Mansfield.  We didn’t get any snowfall at the house during the month, but May’s average snowfall numbers down at our elevation are pretty minimal like October, and with the high sun angle and warming as we approach the solstice I suspect even more removed from correlation with what the mountains see.  Temperature consistency/snow surface quality:  I wouldn’t say May powder is consistent enough to worry about.  I only got out for two days during the month, but at least one was a powder day; the other day was a corn snow day at Bolton so that was also good even if there wasn’t fresh snow.

June:  Our only day in June was outside VT on the East Snowfields on Mt. Washington, and the snowfield was probably smaller than usual for that time of year due to the below average Mt. Washington snowfall for the season.  There actually had been some frozen precipitation in the northern mountains leading up to that day, but we were skiing corn snow.

So in terms of overall snowfall, the two above average months of January and March were basically counteracted by the two below average months of November and April, and with the rest of the months being about average, the snowfall for the season ends up… about average.  Some plusses were better than average snowpack in April and May, but that’s somewhat counteracted by the lower than average snowpack in November, December, and January.  It looks like there was an uptick in consistency in the December-January period due to just that one notable warm-up, but with February and March coming in probably about average in that category, and while November is not especially consistent in terms of temperatures, even in the higher elevations, it must have been below average to get so little snow for the month.  So taking the trends of consistency as an aggregate from November through April, I wouldn’t say that there was a massive improvement in temperature consistency/snow quality for this area.  Something that I have noticed around here is that having a few more storms with mixed precipitation is not necessarily a huge detractor in terms of snow quality.  The ’07-’08 season was a good example of this.  We were right in the storm track, so if we did receive some mixed precipitation, there was often another storm on its heels so quickly, that old snow surfaces were covered up.  It felt like we were right in the storm track for most of that winter, except that we had a relatively poor April with little snowfall (we picked up just 1.6” of snow at the house, even less than this past April).  It is interesting to note that winter ’07-’08 (consistently stormy from November through March) and winter ’10-’11 (biggest synoptic storms focused on just February and March) provide quite disparate examples of how to get to very similar seasonal snowfall totals (203.2” and 197.0” respectively at the house, and 330” and 330” respectively up on the mountain).

Tree skiing:  While working on some web page material, I came across the post I made about the average date for the start of Northern Vermont tree skiing, so I decided to add in the ’10-’11 data and see how the season compared.  In my initial analysis through the ’09-’10 season, the average start date for tree skiing was December 9th ± 13 days with an average of 28.2 ± 6.8 inches of snowpack at the Mt. Mansfield Stake.  In terms of my personal log of outings from last season, I’ve got a start date of December 18th, 2010 for tree skiing, and the addition of these data alters the averages very slightly, bringing the date one day later to December 10th ± 13 days, and the average snowpack down a tenth of an inch to 28.1 ± 6.5 inches.  So in terms of the ’10-’11 season, the start to tree skiing was slightly late in that it started about a week later than the mean date I’ve calculated.  With the horrible November in terms of snowfall, and much of the December snowfall being dry fluff, the late start is not too surprising.  However, the date is well within one standard deviation, so in that sense the start to tree skiing was another parameter of the season that was basically “average”.

On that temperature consistency/snow quality note, I was curious about the powder skiing we did throughout the season, so I checked my reports.  For the list of outings below, I placed a P whenever we were skiing powder, and put a red X if we weren’t, so it shows the pattern of when we did have powder, and when we did not.  Links to the text and pictures for all the individual reports are available below if people want more details about the depth/consistency of the snow, or one can also step through the J&E Productions web log, which has an entry for each outing.  It’s interesting to note that starting at the beginning of the season in October and continuing through to March 26th, there were only four days (December 31st at Bolton Valley, January 1st on the Bolton Valley Nordic/Backcountry Network, March 5th at Cochran’s, and March 20th at Stowe) where we weren’t skiing powder.  Strangely enough, I’ve never looked at a season in that way before, but it did give me an even greater appreciation for just how much powder there is to ski around here.  After March 26th, the powder skiing really trickled off this season, although there were still at least a few days in there.  I’m not sure how this season compares to others since I’ve never looked at one like this before, but I suspect most other “average” seasons would look similar for the way we ski, and with our pattern of skiing there might be similar patterns even in seasons that deviate more from average snowfall.

Stowe, VT, Saturday 16OCT10
Stowe, VT, Sunday 05DEC10
Bolton Valley, VT, Friday 10DEC10
Bolton Valley, VT, Saturday 11DEC10
Stowe, VT, Sunday 12DEC10
Bolton Valley, VT, Saturday 18DEC10
Bolton Valley, VT, Sunday 19DEC10
Bolton Valley, VT, Thursday 23DEC10
Bolton Valley, VT, Friday 24DEC10
Bolton Valley, VT, Monday 27DEC10
Bolton Valley, VT, Tuesday 28DEC10
Bolton Valley, VT, Thursday 30DEC10
X  Bolton Valley, VT, Friday 31DEC10
X  Bolton Valley Nordic & Backcountry, VT, Saturday 01JAN11
Bolton Valley, VT, Saturday 08JAN11
Bolton Valley Nordic & Backcountry, VT, Saturday 08JAN11
Stowe, VT, Sunday 09JAN11
Bolton Valley, VT, Thursday 13JAN11
Bolton Valley, VT, Saturday 15JAN11
Bolton Valley, VT, Sunday 16JAN11
Bolton Valley Nordic & Backcountry, VT, Monday 17JAN11
Bolton Valley Nordic & Backcountry, VT, Saturday 22JAN11
Bolton Valley, VT, Saturday 29JAN11
Stowe, VT, Sunday 30JAN11
Bolton Valley, VT, Thursday 03FEB11
Bolton Valley, VT, Saturday 05FEB11
Stowe, VT, Sunday 06FEB11
Bolton Valley, VT, Saturday 12FEB11
Stowe, VT, Sunday 13FEB11
Bolton Valley Nordic & Backcountry, VT, Monday 21FEB11
Bolton Valley, VT, Friday 25FEB11
Bolton Valley (Timberline), VT, Saturday 26FEB11
Bolton Valley, VT, Saturday 26FEB11
Stowe, VT, Sunday 27FEB11
X  Cochran’s, VT, Saturday 05MAR11
Bolton Valley, VT, Sunday 06MAR11
Bolton Valley, VT, Monday 07MAR11
Stowe, VT, Tuesday 08MAR11
Bolton Valley, VT, Saturday 12MAR11
Stowe, VT, Sunday 13MAR11
Monroe’s Sugarin’, Barton, VT, Saturday 19MAR11
X  Stowe, VT, Sunday 20MAR11
Bolton Valley, VT, Wednesday 23MAR11
Bolton Valley, VT, Friday 25MAR11
Bolton Valley, VT, Saturday 26MAR11
X  Stowe, VT, Sunday 27MAR11
P  Bolton Valley, VT, Saturday 02APR11
X  Stowe, VT, Sunday 03APR11
Bolton Valley, VT, Thursday 07APR11
X  Bolton Valley, VT, Saturday 09APR11
X  Stowe, VT, Sunday 10APR11
X  Bolton Valley, VT, Sunday 17APR11
X  Stowe, VT, Tuesday 19APR11
X  Sugarbush, VT, Friday 22APR11
Bolton Valley, VT, Saturday 23APR11
X  Bolton Valley, VT, Sunday 01MAY11
Stowe, VT, Friday 06MAY11
X  Mount Washington, NH, Saturday 04JUN11

So yeah, long story short, pretty average season in my book.  On that note, since we’ve been back from Montana, the only season we’ve had with substantial snowfall deviation from average for Northern Vermont was a negative one in ’09-’10 as I show in that table of Bolton Valley snowfall near the top of the post.  There definitely hasn’t been anything like what many parts of the Western U.S. saw last season, but as I look at the list of outings above there’s still been plenty of great skiing.

Stowe, VT 06MAY2011

Picture of the gondola slopes of Mt. Mansfield
The fresh snow on Mansfield's slopes in the morning

I headed up to Mt. Mansfield this morning to get in a workout and take advantage of the fresh snow that had fallen since Wednesday.  Once I got out of the fog that had settled around our house in the Winooski Valley, there were fantastic views of the fresh snow on the Green Mountains, and Mt. Mansfield’s alpine terrain was especially scenic.  I started my skin up the gondola side of Mansfield at around 7:00 A.M., and found the following new snow accumulations with respect to elevation:

1,600′:  ~1/4″
2,000′:  1-2″
2,500′:  ~4″
3,000′:  ~6″
3,600′: ~10″

A picture of ski tracks on Upper Gondolier at Stowe
Cutting some arcs into the new snow on Upper Gondolier

It was a little tough to get the depths on what had fallen because the new snow was so well integrated onto the old base, but those were my best estimates and I’d say they’re pretty decent.  In terms of the skiing, the new snow was certainly more akin to dense Sierra Cement than Northern Vermont’s famous Champlain Powder™ fluff, but the turns were really nice; the dense snow did a great job of keeping one up off the old base.  For the full details, links, and all the photographs from the day, click through to the full trip report from Stowe on May 6th, 2011.

Stowe, VT 19APR2011

Image of Stowe's Gondolier trail from the Spruce Peak base
Looking up at Gondolier from the Spruce Peak base area

Ali and Wini were heading to The Shed for dinner today, and since I had the time and E and the boys were out of town, it was the perfect chance to get in an evening of skiing and dinner in Stowe.  I stopped off first at Spruce Peak where the coverage is still excellent; that’s a really good gauge of just how much snow is out there because the bottom of Spruce Peak is both low elevation AND south facing – it’s hard to find a tougher challenge to the snow than that.  The skiing was great, with a couple of inches of beautifully smooth corn that had softened during the day and had partially recrystallized into airy goodness.  Dinner with Wini and Ali was great; definitely one of those classic Vermont spring evenings, and with the current snowpack it looks like there can be many more!  For all the details and images, go to my trip report from today.

Stowe, VT 10APR2011

Image of skiing the half pipe at Stowe
Jay joined the kids for some half pipe fun at Stowe today.

After closing out our lift-served Bolton Valley ski season yesterday, today we headed to Stowe for more spring skiing.  We ran into many of the friends that we’d seen yesterday, and since the boys had been excited for a couple of weeks to check out Starr, we took advantage of the great snow and base depths to ski it from the top.  We also got to the ski the entirety of Goat, another Stowe classic, and we even worked in a couple of runs through the monstrous half pipe.  Stowe will be running the lifts for another week, so we’ll see how the weather looks and we may head back for more turns.  For the full details and pictures, read my Stowe report from today.

100 Inches

Mt. Mansfield and Waterbury Vermont snowpack plot for April 5th, 2011
The snowpack at the Mt. Mansfield stake hit 100 inches after yesterday’s snowfall – click for the full size plot
The snowpack at the Mt. Mansfield stake has been flirting with the 100-inch mark for several weeks, but thanks to yesterday’s snow, the afternoon reading indicated that we’d finally hit the century mark.  A depth of 100 inches at the stake is a nice benchmark indicating an excellent snowpack in the Northern Green Mountains, so the base depths for skiing should be decent for quite some time.  Down in the valley, the snowpack at our house in Waterbury was at 16 inches as of this morning’s reading.  I’ve added my latest plot for the Mt. Mansfield and Waterbury snow depths in this post.

Stowe, VT 03APR2011

Picture of the BJAMS Ski Program kids at Stowe
The kids from BJAMS gathering together at the Stowe fire pit on our final ski program day of the season

Today was our final BJAMS ski program session of the season at Stowe, and we had a nice sunny day with great coverage to finish things out.  The conditions were actually an excellent combination of going from mid winter up high to spring-like down low, with easy to ski snow at all elevations.  I was amazed at the way the Nosedive Glades had mid winter snow.  Groomed surfaces seemed much better than last Sunday’s heinous frozen granular, presumably because of some extra snow and warmth from the sun helping out.  While the non-groomed trails were OK, they probably weren’t quite as fresh as last week when we had all that upslope snow.  We did ski the lower part of Lookout and found some decent packed powder surfaces, but also spots of iciness that had to be avoided.  The snowpack on Hackett’s Highway under the triple continues to be impressive – I could touch my ski pole to the trail while riding the lift.  We had Ty, Dylan, Jack, Luke, Ethan, and Madeline in the group – and they had quite a blast hitting the big half pipe.  My friend Chris joined our group, so with Claire and Sue we had four adults for the six youngsters, providing plenty of supervision.  It looks like Stowe will be open for a couple more weeks, so we’ll likely be there for some visits if the skiing looks good.  Coverage shouldn’t be much of an issue with roughly 100 inches at the Mt. Mansfield stake and more snow that fell today.

Good powder in the local mountains

Jay in the powder at Bolton valley
Jay skiing the powder at Bolton valley yesterday

Waterbury event totals: 2.8” Snow/0.06” L.E.

After that quick inch of snow we picked up yesterday, that was it for snowfall down here at the house as far as I can tell.  We were back up at Bolton for some more turns starting around midday, and it was snowing pretty hard for the first part of the afternoon.  Friends that we met up there said that it had snowed like that all morning.  It’s nice to see what’s going on up at Jay, because they were a bit left out of the pattern earlier in the season with so much activity focused to the south.  I’ve added the 7-day and seasonal snowfall totals for some of the VT resorts below:

Jay Peak: 30” (359”)
Stowe: 18” (311”)
Bolton Valley: 14” (316”)
Killington: 4” (251”)

Right now the snowpack is 98 inches at the Mt. Mansfield stake, and if one looks at the SkiVT-L plot for the snow depths, this is right around the date for the typical maximum.  The historical data suggests a small dip after the end of March, but the snowpack really seems to hang around at this level until roughly mid April before it actually starts to fall off., so I could see the peak snowpack depth being anywhere in that range, especially with the current weather pattern.

5.3 inches at the house, 8 inches for the mountain

BTV Radar Image
The streamers of moisture heading into our area at around 10:45 P.M. last night

We picked up 5.3 inches of total snow with this event down in the valley thanks to the second burst of snowfall that came through last night, and up at Bolton Valley as well as Stowe, they picked up a total of 8 inches of snow.  I’ve added a picture of the radar image from around 10:45 P.M. last night that shows the snow still streaming into the area.  I’ve added the north to south list of storm accumulations for the Vermont ski areas below, and additional details can be found in my morning update in the Northern New England thread at Americanwx.com.

Jay Peak: 6″
Burke: 5”
Smuggler’s Notch: 5”
Stowe: 8”
Bolton Valley: 8”
Mad River Glen: 5”
Sugarbush: 5”
Pico: 4”
Killington: 4”
Okemo: 5”
Bromley: 2”
Stratton: 4”
Mount Snow: 3”