Wasatch Weather Weenies: Who Has the Best Snow in the East?

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Wasatch Weather Weenies: Who Has the Best Snow in the East?

Postby Tony Crocker » Wed Jan 22, 2014 3:58 pm

http://wasatchweatherweenies.blogspot.c ... -east.html

I put in my 2 cents in the comments.
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Re: Wasatch Weather Weenies: Who Has the Best Snow in the Ea

Postby berkshireskier » Wed Jan 22, 2014 4:50 pm

I would take any reported season snowfall totals reported by NE ski resorts with a grain of salt. Given the number of rain events and warm weather periods we have been getting in recent years (and I don't know if it is getting worse but seems to be), a lot of the snowpack (manmade and natural) get wiped out on a regular basis during the course of the season. In the first month of this ski season alone, we have had (all the way up to Canada) three major warm-ups with heavy rain that has decimated the existing snowpack.
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Re: Wasatch Weather Weenies: Who Has the Best Snow in the Ea

Postby flyover » Wed Jan 22, 2014 5:22 pm

I'm glad to see they included the Keweenaw/Bohemia in their discussion:
Further, most of this snowfall is lake effect and likely has very low water content. Long-term records collected by National Weather Service volunteer observers suggests this area receives some of the driest snow in the United States, comparable to that found over the western interior.


"Very low water content" is entirely consistent with my experience at Bohemia and in the backcountry of the U.P. However, I've cherry picked all of my days out there.

The numbers from the Keweenaw County Road Commission (http://keweenawcountyonline.org/snowfall.php) are interesting:

201 inches for the season as of yesterday (Bohemia is claiming 213, which seems very reasonable);

171.5 inches since December 1;

That 171.5 inches of snow increased the settled snow depth by only 30 inches between December 1 and January 21 (I'm almost certain there have been no significant thaws or rain during this time).

Clearly, the snow this winter has has, on average, been pretty dry.

It is also interesting to note that during this 7-week period there was only one day with new snow of more than 8.5 inches (17 inches on December 7). It sounds to me like Tug gets more large and intense storms. However, many winters, snow preservation out on the U.P. is exceptional right into March as cloudy days tend to be cold (and often snowy - it's 4F and snowing out there as I type) and sunny days tend to be even colder. I'm going to hazard a guess that Tug averages more frequent thaws than the Keweenaw.

Finally, there are winters during which lake effect can be fickle in the Superior basin. Sustained warm Pacific flows will shut down the lake effect for weeks at a time. Last year at this time, total snowfall for the season was only 99.5 inches.
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Re: Wasatch Weather Weenies: Who Has the Best Snow in the Ea

Postby Tony Crocker » Fri Jan 24, 2014 1:43 pm

berkshireskier wrote:I would take any reported season snowfall totals reported by NE ski resorts with a grain of salt. Given the number of rain events and warm weather periods we have been getting in recent years (and I don't know if it is getting worse but seems to be), a lot of the snowpack (manmade and natural) get wiped out on a regular basis during the course of the season. In the first month of this ski season alone, we have had (all the way up to Canada) three major warm-ups with heavy rain that has decimated the existing snowpack.

The rain events make it difficult to draw much of a link between snow on the ground and reported snowfall. In the western resorts where it rains rarely if at all during ski season, there is some relationship between snowfall and max base depths, though snow density is also a key factor.

With regard to Vermont snowfall, we've had JSpin and powderfreak do rather painstaking analysis, and I'm inclined to trust their judgment. So along the spine of the Greens north of I-89 season snowfall of a bit over 300 inches seems credible, and there seems to be no long term trend up or down in that.

As far as the rain events are concerned I have Mansfield Stake info on that for the past 13 years with a summary for 15+ years before that. The last 13 years have averaged 8.86 inches of Nov-Apr rain vs. 7.51 inches for the earlier seasons. I can't say whether that's statistically significant, but in this case the numbers point in the same direction as berkshireskier's impression.

flyover wrote:I'm going to hazard a guess that Tug averages more frequent thaws than the Keweenaw.

I'm sure you're right about that. You commented when I was in Lutsen that rain/thaws were rare there before March. As we know rain/thaws are routine in winter throughout the Northeast. In the past 13 years there have been only 11 months with no rain at the Mansfield Stake.
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Re: Wasatch Weather Weenies: Who Has the Best Snow in the Ea

Postby flyover » Thu Feb 06, 2014 10:43 am

The cold giveth and taketh away.

Lake Superior lake-effect snow, constant for much of this winter (Mt. Bohemia at 233"), will now be shutting down.

Depending upon the source, Superior is now 75% (http://www.miningjournal.net/page/conte ... l?nav=5001) to 91% frozen over (http://publicradio1.wpengine.netdna-cdn ... 65-sup.png) and will likely end up nearly 100% ice covered for the first time since 1996-1997. While this is good news for lake levels and, potentially, for the wolf and/or moose populations on Isle Royale (a long shot), it has killed the lake-effect snow for the season.

The meteorologist on MPR last night said that for winters when Superior does freeze, average ice-up is early March, so the Superior basin will be deprived of its lake-effect snow almost a month earlier than average.
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