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Stowe, VT 1/9/2011

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Stowe, VT 1/9/2011

Postby J.Spin » Mon Jan 17, 2011 3:49 pm

Sunday, January 9th was our first school program session of the season, and we were off to Stowe for the afternoon. With the level of skier traffic, especially weekend skier traffic that Stowe sees, Sunday afternoons don’t typically offer optimal snow surfaces. However, last season had to be a low point in that continuum; not only was the snowfall below average, but an inordinate number of times the next round of snow seemed to come in for Monday, after we were done skiing.

So far this season however, things have been much better. We had fresh snow for our training day back on Sunday, December 12th, and as we moved into our first session with the students, it looked like Mother Nature was going to try to help out with fresh snow again. On Friday, an inverted trough system had set up shop over New England, and while the focus was south of our area, we’d managed to pick up a couple more inches on Saturday night. The Sunday morning report from the house at 6:00 A.M. revealed the following:

Sunday 1/9/2011 6:00 A.M. update:

Event totals: 5.1” Snow/0.29” L.E.

I cleared the snowboard last night at 10:00 P.M., and it had 0.2” snow on it comprised of 0.01” liquid. That was presumably the last accumulation from that part of the storm. I don’t know when the next round of snowfall started, but when I checked this morning a fresh 1.9” of very dry, upslope-style snow had accumulated. We are definitely into a different portion of the storm now, because the flakes are consistently larger than anything I’ve seen the past couple of days, and the snowfall rate is high. I don’t think it’s quite 1”/hr., but it’s up there due to the large flakes. Very consistent with BTV’s projected accumulations map, a sharp cutoff of precipitation is visible on the radar along the Green Mountain spine, even in composite mode.

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Checking the latest NWS discussion for the near term, the snowfall activity is expected to be higher when a potent shortwave comes through this afternoon, so we will see how the snowfall plays out later:

.NEAR TERM /UNTIL 7 PM THIS EVENING/...
AS OF 330 AM EST SUNDAY...UPPER LEVEL LOW OVER SOUTHERN NY WILL CONTINUE TO SLOWLY MOVE EAST TODAY...MOISTURE BEGINS TO WRAP AROUND THIS SYSTEM AND MOVE INTO OUR FORECAST AREA FROM THE NORTH. POTENT SHORTWAVE WILL DROP SOUTH ACROSS THE CWA BETWEEN 18Z AND 00Z MONDAY. SNOW WILL INCREASE DURING THIS TIME PERIOD...ESPECIALLY ACROSS THE HIGHER ELEVATIONS AND THE NORTHWEST FACING SLOPES OF THE DACKS AND GREENS. OROGRAPHIC ENHANCEMENT OF LIGHT SNOW WILL BE EVIDENT. FIRST PART OF THE DAY TODAY WILL BE QUIETER UNTIL THAT SHORTWAVE ENTERS THE REGION.

Some details from the 6:00 A.M. observations are below:

New Snow: 1.9 inches
New Liquid: 0.04 inches
Snow/Water Ratio: 47.5
Snow Density: 2.1%
Temperature: 23.9 F
Sky: Snow (3-7 mm flakes)
Snow at the stake: 9.5 inches


At the house we’d reached roughly a half foot of snow for the event by noontime as we were heading off to Stowe, and steady, increasing snowfall was the trend for the afternoon as the upslope-enhancing shortwave seemed to be on its way. The snow on the ground and in the air was all looking very nice as we reached the Spruce Peak base area. While E and Claire coordinated pass distribution, I took Ty, Dylan and Luke out for a warm up run on the Sunny Spruce Quad. On the sides of the trails we found a good 8 inches of powder, and one of the steep pitches of Lower Smuggler’s saw us slashing big, steep powder turns in the neglected snow off to the skier’s right. By the end of the run the boys were totally jazzed and ready for more.

For the day our group had three adults and six students, and we worked on a lot of short-radius turns enjoying the increasingly deep powder along the edges of the trails. We had some great runs off the gondola, and then finished off the day with a trip down Nosedive that really got everyone’s blood pumping. By the end of the afternoon there was a good foot of powder off the sides of the trails thanks to the storm system, and it was snowing at over an inch an hour.

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We hung out and had après ski in Spruce Camp with some of the other families, and it was quite a blizzard outside. I decided to gather up all the skis and gear so that E and the boys wouldn’t need to deal with the weather, and found that the car had already taken on quite a layer of snow. It was hard to tell just how hard it had been snowing with the stiff winds, but the accumulations on the cars that had only been out for the afternoon helped put it into perspective.

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Snow persisted all the way home, and we found that just like mountain, we were getting pounded with huge upslope flakes at the house. In just the time that we’d been away for the afternoon, we’d picked up 6.1 inches of additional snow, and without any wind it had gently settled down as some classic Champlain Powder™ that was just 2.3% H2O. That was quickly followed up by another 4.4 inches of 3.0% H2O snow to ensure that Monday was going to be quite spectacular on the local slopes.

Below I’ve added in some of the weather details from Sunday evening’s onslaught of snow that eventually saw the western slopes of the Greens upgraded to a Winter Storm Warning:

Sunday 1/9/2011 6:00 P.M. update:

Event totals: 12.3” Snow/0.47” L.E.

As of noontime today we had accumulated 1.1 inches of new snow, and then I was able to clear the snowboard before we headed to Stowe for the afternoon. There was steady snow on the mountain all afternoon and into the evening, and it seemed to increase as time went on. I bet it was above an inch per hour at times, although it was a bit tough to tell with the wind; winds were certainly in the 20 to 30 MPH range when they were ramped up. I didn’t know if the same heavy snowfall was hitting the valleys, but I was very curious to see what was going on at the house. On the way home, the intensity of the snowfall dropped off a bit as we headed down into Stowe Village, but for the most part it really kept up with decent snowfall all along the east side of the Greens through Waterbury Center, Colbyville, and then through Waterbury to the house.

It was obvious that we’d picked up a good shot of afternoon snow at the house as we plowed our way up the driveway, and I found 6.1 inches of snow on the snowboard comprised of 0.14 inches of liquid. It was very fluffy stuff that you could barely feel as you walked through it. The 6.1 inches was actually the largest individual accumulation I’ve seen on the board so far this season, whether accumulated in 6-hour, 12-hour, or even 24-hour intervals. The flakes (or aggregates in actuality) that were falling from the sky were huge, with some up to an inch in diameter. I went with a range of 5 to 25 mm diameters based on what I saw.

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With that accumulation this event pulled into a tie with the 12/12/2010-12/18/2010 event for second largest of the season, but it’s continued to snow at about an inch per hour, so this one has now taken sole possession of the number two spot. The running season snowfall average I have for this date is 70.9 inches, and 72.0 inches for tomorrow, so if this snowfall keeps up it might be possible to catch up to average. If that happened, it would be the first time this season. Either way, we’re at least getting closer.

Some details from the noontime and 6:00 P.M. observations are below:

1/9/2011 - 12:00 P.M. observations
New Snow: 1.1 inches
New Liquid: 0.04 inches
Snow/Water Ratio: 27.5
Snow Density: 3.6%
Temperature: 25.3 F
Sky: Snow (2-3 mm flakes)
Snow at the stake: 9.5 inches

1/9/2011 - 6:00 P.M. observations
New Snow: 6.1 inches
New Liquid: 0.14 inches
Snow/Water Ratio: 43.6
Snow Density: 2.3%
Temperature: 21.6 F
Sky: Snow (5-25 mm flakes)
Snow at the stake: 13.0 inches

Monday 1/10/2011 12:00 A.M. update:

Event totals: 16.7” Snow/0.60” L.E.

I’m up doing some work so I went out for 12:00 A.M. observations. It has still been coming down quite steadily over the past six hours (4.4 inches), although not quite as intensely as the previous accumulation period. With the way the snowfall has been so heavy, I was surprised that the NWS didn’t go with a Winter Storm Warning for this event, but I checked their page and they now have Winter Storm Warnings up for eastern Chittenden and Addison Counties and they have also updated their storm total snowfall maps.

DISCUSSION FROM 929 PM EST SUNDAY... COMPOSITE RADAR LOOP SHOWING BANDS OF HEAVY SNOW ALONG THE WESTERN SLOPES OF THE GREEN MOUNTAINS. JUST GOT A REPORT IN UNDERHILL VERMONT FROM AN OFF DUTY NWS EMPLOYEE OF 2.5 INCHES OF SNOW IN THE PAST HOUR. HAVE ALSO RECEIVED SEVERAL OTHER REPORTS OF HEAVY SNOWFALL AS WELL. THUS...HAVE UPGRADED THE WINTER WEATHER ADVISORY TO A WINTER STORM WARNING ACROSS EASTERN CHITTENDEN AND EASTERN ADDISON COUNTIES IN VERMONT. ALSO JUST RECEIVED A REPORT FROM A RETIRED NWS EMPLOYEE OF 4 INCHES AT KILLINGTON VERMONT...WITH HEAVY SNOW THERE. MAY NEED TO EXPAND WINTER WEATHER ADVISORY TO EASTERN RUTLAND AND WASHINGTON COUNTIES IN VERMONT...SO THERE MAY BE ANOTHER UPDATE COMING TO THIS FORECAST IN AWHILE

As noted above, if it’s snowing more than twice as hard in Underhill as it is here, they are getting quite a shot of snow. It will be interesting to see how accumulations go with this event; folks taking just 24-hour measurements are going to have notably lower totals than those reading at smaller intervals because this snow is so dry. It settles really fast; evidenced by the fact that there were 13.0 inches at the stake at 6:00 P.M., we picked up 4.4 additional inches, and the snow at the stake is only 14.5 inches now. The 12:00 A.M. observations are below followed by the WSW text and the updated maps

New Snow: 4.4 inches
New Liquid: 0.13 inches
Snow/Water Ratio: 33.8
Snow Density: 3.0%
Temperature: 18.1 F
Sky: Snow (3-15 mm flakes)
Snow at the stake: 14.5 inches

URGENT - WINTER WEATHER MESSAGE
NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE BURLINGTON VT
1100 PM EST SUN JAN 9 2011

VTZ017-018-101200-
/O.CON.KBTV.WS.W.0001.000000T0000Z-110110T1500Z/
EASTERN CHITTENDEN-EASTERN ADDISON-
INCLUDING THE CITIES OF...UNDERHILL...BRISTOL...RIPTON
1100 PM EST SUN JAN 9 2011

...WINTER STORM WARNING REMAINS IN EFFECT UNTIL 10 AM EST
MONDAY...

THE NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE IN BURLINGTON CONTINUES THE WINTER
STORM WARNING...UNTIL 10 AM EST MONDAY.

* LOCATIONS...EASTERN CHITTENDEN AND EASTERN ADDISON COUNTIES IN
VERMONT ALONG THE WESTERN SLOPES OF THE GREEN MOUNTAINS.

* HAZARD TYPES...MODERATE TO HEAVY SNOW.

* ACCUMULATIONS...4 TO 8 INCHES OF SNOW IS EXPECTED OVERNIGHT...
WITH A STORM TOTAL SNOW ACCUMULATION OF 8 TO 12 INCHES...WITH
SOME LOCALLY HIGHER AMOUNTS POSSIBLE.

* TIMING...SNOW WILL CONTINUE ACROSS THE WARNING AREA OVERNIGHT
INTO MONDAY MORNING BEFORE TAPERING OFF BY MONDAY AFTERNOON.

* IMPACTS...DIFFICULT TRAVEL CONDITIONS EXPECTED THROUGH MONDAY
MORNING...ESPECIALLY ACROSS HIGHER TERRAIN AREAS.

* WINDS...WEST 10 TO 15 MPH WITH GUSTS UP TO 25 MPH.

* TEMPERATURES...LOWS IN THE TEENS.

PRECAUTIONARY/PREPAREDNESS ACTIONS...

PLEASE STAY TUNED TO NOAA WEATHER RADIO...YOUR LOCAL MEDIA...OR
GO TO http://WWW.WEATHER.GOV/BURLINGTON FOR FURTHER UPDATES ON THIS
WEATHER SITUATION.

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J.Spin
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J.Spin
 
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Location: Waterbury, Vermont - Image: Skiing Bone Mountain in the Bolton Valley backcountry, VT

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