California Ski Resorts Are Left High and Dry

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California Ski Resorts Are Left High and Dry

Postby jojo_obrien » Sun Nov 30, 2014 8:46 am

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Re: California Ski Resorts Are Left High and Dry

Postby Admin » Sun Nov 30, 2014 8:52 am

There's a whole lot of BS in that article masquerading as journalism, including:

While snow levels have decreased drastically in the West and are generally on decline elsewhere in the United States, ...


and

Some dismiss the snow drought as an anomaly, pointing to near-record snowfalls in the Sierra Nevada as recently as 2011. When viewed on graphs, the data is spikier than ever, but the trend lines point down.


...neither of which are true.

When you consider that your source is the New York Times, however, it all starts to make sense.
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Re: California Ski Resorts Are Left High and Dry

Postby jamesdeluxe » Sun Nov 30, 2014 10:23 am

Admin wrote:"The Paper of Record"

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Re: California Ski Resorts Are Left High and Dry

Postby Tony Crocker » Sun Nov 30, 2014 3:53 pm

It may be the paper of record, but it ran a similar article of drivel almost exactly 2 years ago.
viewtopic.php?f=10&t=9675&start=45#p66788

NY Times wrote:Troubling for ski areas now is the rising percentage of precipitation that falls as liquid, not solid, even in winter, said Randall Osterhuber, a researcher at the snow lab. In the late 1970s, about 82 percent of the annual precipitation at the lab, with a relatively high elevation of 6,900 feet, fell as snow. These days, it is about 67 percent.


I've been getting that CSSL data from Randall for over 20 years. He has a precise rain/snow breakout since 1987. From 1987-88 to 2011-12, snow was 79% of November-April precipitation. Before that, there is only a total water to total snow ratio. That ratio was 13.3% from 1971-1987 and was 14.3% from 1988-2012. Crudely, that would imply that the snow percent of precipitation in the earlier period was ~85%.

I know CSSL data goes back quite awhile. I have snowfall data since 1967. CSSL has snow data going back into the 19th century. I'm not sure in what form the water data exists before 1971. At any rate this is an important data set for monitoring the rain/snow line over time. That means a very long time, given Sierra weather volatility. That average 21% of Nov-Apr precipitation being rain: It's been as low as 5.8% in 2007-08 and as high as 45.3% in 1996-97, the year of the New Year's floods in Squaw/Yosemite/Kern River.

In Sierra ski area context the CSSL elevation of 6,900 feet is on the low side. It's also more rain-prone on the leading edge of the SIerra than at similar elevation leeward of the Sierra Crest in the Tahoe basin, though I can't say by how much.

Even though Sierra snow volatility is a fact of life, documented for well over a century, people's memories are short term and the Sierra ski operators have good reason to be worried. Another busted Christmas on the heels of the past 3 seasons is going to further damage their "snow equity" and reduce advance bookings from outside the region. It would be interesting to know if that happened during the last sustained dry stretch from 1987-1992.
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Re: California Ski Resorts Are Left High and Dry

Postby Admin » Sun Nov 30, 2014 4:49 pm

Tony Crocker wrote:It may be the paper of record, but it ran a similar article of drivel almost exactly 2 years ago.
viewtopic.php?f=10&t=9675&start=45#p66788

NY Times wrote:Troubling for ski areas now is the rising percentage of precipitation that falls as liquid, not solid, even in winter, said Randall Osterhuber, a researcher at the snow lab. In the late 1970s, about 82 percent of the annual precipitation at the lab, with a relatively high elevation of 6,900 feet, fell as snow. These days, it is about 67 percent.


I've been getting that CSSL data from Randall for over 20 years. He has a precise rain/snow breakout since 1987. From 1987-88 to 2011-12, snow was 79% of November-April precipitation. Before that, there is only a total water to total snow ratio. That ratio was 13.3% from 1971-1987 and was 14.3% from 1988-2012. Crudely, that would imply that the snow percent of precipitation in the earlier period was ~85%.


So the reality is 79% vs. 82% or 85%, not 62%, which given the volatility of snowfall in the Sierra is a completely insignificant variation. That's why you need to carefully consider your sources and their biases. Liberally biased rags like the NYT will deliberately use a word or phrase like "these days" - the phrase they used here - to be intentionally vague. What does that mean? The past 3 years? Last year? Last week? By using a vague word or phrase like that, you can take the data and use it to make whatever point you want it to. In the lead in to a phrase like that, they intentionally throw all kinds of hard numbers at you in an effort to deceive you into believing the point that their agenda wants them to make, by making you believe that they are still providing hard data to reach their conclusion.

The fact is that the article's assertion that snowfall is decreasing across the country is an outright lie. Make no mistake about it, The New York Times has a clear and defined agenda to promote. This is absolute drivel masquerading as journalism.
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Re: California Ski Resorts Are Left High and Dry

Postby Tony Crocker » Sun Nov 30, 2014 5:31 pm

admin wrote:What does that mean? The past 3 years? Last year? Last week? By using a vague word or phrase like that, you can take the data and use it to make whatever point you want it to.

For Sierra snowfall you can easily manipulate the data. If you use 1993 as a starting point and go to the present, it looks like Sierra snowfall is dropping precipitously. If you choose the time period 1987-2011 it looks like Sierra snowfall is rising even faster than it's falling in the 1993-2014 example. My data is fairly extensive back through the 1970's. Using the starting point of 1971, 1973 or 1976, the trend through 2014 is dead flat.

admin wrote:The fact is that the article's assertion that snowfall is decreasing across the country is an outright lie.

The temperature increase between the 1970's and the 2000's should have moved the rain/snow line a little bit. I take it as part of my number crunching charge to investigate that. The Whistler base is the only place in my data where I see decreased snowfall as a result, and this during an era when Whistler alpine snowfall has been increasing some. The CSSL data is the other indicator I have of an impact on rain vs. snow, though the total snowfall there is flat in line with the rest of the Sierra. Snoqualmie Pass is the next place to watch. Its snowfall is flat since the 1970's though supposedly it was higher in the 1950's.

For those who ski in Rockies resorts where it rains in the winter essentially never, this is an academic exercise. Our grandchildren will be skiing as much powder in those places as we do now.
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