Heavy rainfall and more high water today

I haven’t seen any snow with this system, but last night’s precipitation seems worthy of note because we had 2.30 inches of liquid and the Winooski is back up even with our local VAST bridge as it was on the 11th, despite the fact that most of the snow has already melted in the lower elevations.  Some area schools are closed due to road access issues with this event.  I just summed my CoCoRaHS numbers for April and with this latest event the total liquid is right at 8.00 inches for the month thus far.  While I had that open I grabbed a few additional liquid numbers.  For the 2011 calendar year up to this point at my reporting location the liquid precipitation is at 20.46 inches, for the 2010 calendar year the total was 54.17 inches, and for the ’10-’11 snowfall season as it currently stands (October 15th, 2010 – April 16th, 2011), the total was 28.09 inches.

The snow in the yard has melted

The last of the snow in the yard melted today, so I can finish off that portion of my seasonal snowfall numbers.  The data for the last of the snow melting out in the yard (as of this season the mean date is April 15th ± 10 days) is actually something I’ve recorded all the way back since our first winter here (2006-2007) and April 24th is one day later than the previous record I had down (April 23rd, 2007).  This puts the continuous snowpack season in the yard at 141 days, which is exactly the same number recorded for ’06-’07.  Both of those seasons had slow starts with poor November snowfall, and snowpack that did not become established until early December, so they are well behind the highest value of 152 days recorded for the 2007-2008 season.  The next benchmark I’ll monitor will be when the last of the snow melts out in our neighborhood, which tends to be about a week beyond when the snow melts out at the house.

As I was skiing at Bolton yesterday I was reminded of some outings in April ’07, and realized that while the snowpack is in excellent shape this spring, the skiing this month has really paled in comparison to the equivalent period back in ’07.  Even down at this elevation we had almost two feet of snowfall in April ’07, and this season we’ve had just 4.4 inches.  I’m not sure what the mountains have had this April, but in ’07 it was measured in feet; I skied one day mid month on the mountain where I found up to 19 inches of new snow, and that was for just one of the storms.  The reading from the Mansfield stake on Friday was certainly respectable at 82 inches, but for the same date in ’07 it was actually at 84 inches.  It’s really been just an issue of the storm track this April; the moisture has been there, but the track has been too far to the north/west to get into the appropriate combination of precipitation and temperature.  With a good track over the past few weeks we probably would have had another April 2007 on our hands.  I think that the past couple of springs have been so poor in the snowfall department that some perspective has been lost on April’s potential, this one is good in terms of base/snowpack, but I’d say subpar for snowfall (we’re still below average by a few inches at the house).

Bolton Valley, VT 23APR2011

Picture of ski tracks in the powder on Lower Turnpike
Cutting some big arcs across the lower part of Turnpike

While the weather was full-blown spring with sunshine and corn snow yesterday at Sugarbush, today it was back to winter with a bit of fresh powder in the mountains.  I headed up to Bolton for some turns and found snow that was dense enough to keep me from touching down to the old subsurface much of the time.  The base snow provided wall to wall coverage, so with the powder on top it was a great ride.  For all the details and pictures, go to my April 23rd trip report from Bolton Valley.

Sugarbush, VT 22APR2011

Picture of Sugarbush's Clay Brook complex and trails
A view of the Clay Brook silo-style structure with some of the Lincoln Peak trails in the background

The forecast called for sun and spring temperatures today, and Mother Nature delivered just that, so I headed to Sugarbush with the boys for some spring turns.  It was our first day of skiing away from Stowe and Bolton this season, and thus our first day actually buying real lift tickets.  Fortunately, spring ticket specials are in effect throughout the area, making things more affordable; Sugarbush has a two for one offer on their already reduced spring rate if you bring your season’s pass from another ski area, so the boys and I skied for $59 total, which was pretty economical.  It was an excellent afternoon on the slopes with the boys, with lots of snow and sun, and then we stopped in at Timbers for some après ski snacks.  For the full details and pictures, click through to my April 22nd Sugarbush report.

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.

Bolton Valley, VT 17APR2011

Image of Whiteface from Bolton
Looking between the chairs of the Timberline Lift to take in the view of Whiteface across Lake Champlain

Unlike yesterday, where temperatures stayed rather wintry and didn’t give the snow a chance to warm up, today the temperatures were warmer and the sun was starting to break out in the afternoon, so I headed up to Bolton for some turns.  The snow coverage is still great all the way down to the Timberline elevations, so I made turns there and found some excellent spring corn.  The full details and all the pictures can be found in my Bolton Valley trip report from today.  There is a lot of skiing to be done in the coming weeks, so get out and enjoy that great snowpack!

Snowpack has reached zero at the back yard stake

Waterbury, Vermont 2010-2011 snowpack plot
The snow depth went to zero today at our back yard stake in Waterbury. (Click on the image for the full size plot)

As of this morning, the depth of snow at our back yard stake has reached zero, so I’ve updated my Waterbury snowpack plot and included it in this post.  This means that the last day with snow at the stake was 4/12, and the average I have for that value is 3/27 ± 14 days, so this season is a couple of weeks later than that average.  The next benchmark I’ll monitor will be when the final snow in the yard is gone, and based on data I have from ’07-’10, that average date is 4/12 ± 10 days, so roughly a couple of weeks later than when the snow has melted out at the stake.  As of today, the yard snowpack has been around for 130 days, but that is actually still below average (138 ± 14 days) because of the late start to the season; the start of continuous snowpack this season was on the later side at 12/5 vs. an average of 11/27 ± 9 days.  Unless the rest of the snow in the yard melts unusually fast however, the end result of the snowpack season will probably be somewhere around that average value.

I’d say that winter temperatures were more consistent than usual this season, so it’s a little easier to see the steady climb in snowpack from a value of 0″ on 12/4 through the value of 39.5″ on 3/8.  The average rate of increase during the period was 0.42″/day.  This was a decent snowpack season, with snow depth days from my stake coming in at 2,227 depth-days vs. the average of 1,812 ± 741 depth-days.  However, the combination of the rather late start and long stagnation through mid January (visible on the plot) while the storms were going south, meant that it certainly wasn’t up where the ’07-’08 season was at over 2,500 depth-days.

High water on the Winooski at the VAST snowmobile bridge

Image of high water on the Winooski
Melting snow from warm temperatures caused the Winooski to rise today - our local VAST snowmobile bridge was basically floating on the river.

With the recent warm temperatures melting some of the snowpack, the Winooski was quite high today, so I’ve added a couple of pictures of our local VAST snowmobile bridge.  The bridge was refurbished in the fall, and from the pictures one can see that the boards are still pretty light in color.  Normally the bridge is 5 to 10 feet above the river, so that provides a sense of the rise of the water level due to the melting snow, and with the fields off to the south taken over by water (visible in the background) the Winooski was several times its normal width. 

Close up image of the VAST snowmobile bridge at high water
A close up view of the south side of the VAST bridge and the flooded fields beyond

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.

Bolton Valley, VT 09APR2011

Ty skiing Show Off at Bolton
Ty hits the spring snow at the top of Bolton's Show Off trail with the mountain's wind turbine in the background.

Today we headed up for what will probably be our last lift-served day at Bolton this season, since Bolton won’t be running their lifts after this weekend and we’re planning to head to Stowe tomorrow.  It was as excellent day with some almost wintry snow to start in the morning, which gradually became more and more spring-like as the day went on.  We skied with many friends and family including my mom, Stephen, Johannes, Helena, Claire, Luke, and Claire’s sister Missy and her whole family.  The last regular turns of the season on the mountain are always bittersweet, but it was a great way to end the lift-served portion of the winter at Bolton with full coverage and a deep base.  For all the pictures and the full text from our adventures, check out my report from the day.  The season ended around average with 330 inches of snowfall, and we’re already looking forward to next season when we expect to see more of Claire and Luke who just became Bolton Valley 2011-2012 season passholders!