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Re: Western Weather 2017-18 and Later

PostPosted: Fri Oct 25, 2019 4:17 pm
by Tony Crocker
October is in no way predictive of winter from anything I've read. Joel commented upon this not long ago. I don't even collect October data as a rule. I comment subjectively upon October weather in season progress reports and occasionally count snowfall if opening dates or early open terrain is materially affected.

Last year's start was one of the better ones for the Front Range with a 3-4 foot storm end October/early November. Thanksgiving terrain open was well above average. Front Range percents of terrain open at Thanksgiving, mid-December and Christmas Week in 2000-01 and 2009-10 were average to slightly below average.

Unless October snowfall is quite substantial, it tends not to last. Colorado's low water content snow tends to accumulate slowly anyway. While I do not have data, I think the Whistler alpine often builds a base in October, allowing it to open in early December at a similar time as lower runs that have snowmaking assistance. To a lesser extent this occurs in interior western Canada too at 6,000+ elevation.

The October storm track is more rare the farther south you go aside from Wolf Creek's microclimate getting the end of the summer monsoon but with cold enough temps after mid-October to receive snow vs. rain. But occasionally you'll get a meaningful October base builder at Targhee/upper half Jackson, LCC or Mammoth. Pacific Northwest storm season often starts by mid-October but the rain/snow line tends to be too high then for the ski areas other than the Whistler alpine.

Re: Western Weather 2017-18 and Later

PostPosted: Sat Dec 14, 2019 11:13 am
by EMSC
Not too many days of the season with red (Avalanche Warning) conditions... Should open up a fair bit of terrain by sometime next week ahead of the holiday hordes though.

Capture.JPG

Re: Western Weather 2017-18 and Later

PostPosted: Mon Jan 06, 2020 5:38 pm
by Sbooker
Snowbird is stating 233" so far this season. That's an impressive number considering there is still most of January, all of February and March to come - not to mention some inevitable snow in April. I believe they usually average about 500 inches per season?
I'm sure @Tony Crocker will know if they are ahead of schedule for this time.

Re: Western Weather 2017-18 and Later

PostPosted: Mon Jan 06, 2020 6:05 pm
by Tony Crocker
Snowbird numbers are a SWAG. They basically report something close to Alta Collins. Both numbers include October, when it snowed 40 inches but the base shrank to 9 inches during the first 3 dry weeks of November.

The real numbers (9,600 feet mid-mountain both areas) since Nov. 1 are 182 inches Alta and 163 inches Snowbird. That does not change the conclusion that skiing is and should be excellent at both places. The ratio between the Alta and Snowbird numbers is right on its long term average since 1989.

A real number for Snowbird 9,600 can be calculated using (Alta Collins snowfall) x (Snowbird SNOTEL water content ) / (Alta Collins water content).

Re: Western Weather 2017-18 and Later

PostPosted: Mon Jan 06, 2020 9:24 pm
by Sbooker
Tony Crocker wrote:Snowbird numbers are a SWAG. They basically report something close to Alta Collins. Both numbers include October, when it snowed 40 inches but the base shrank to 9 inches during the first 3 dry weeks of November.

The real numbers (9,600 feet mid-mountain both areas) since Nov. 1 are 182 inches Alta and 163 inches Snowbird. That does not change the conclusion that skiing is and should be excellent at both places. The ratio between the Alta and Snowbird numbers is right on its long term average since 1989.

A real number for Snowbird 9,600 can be calculated using (Alta Collins snowfall) x (Snowbird SNOTEL water content ) / (Alta Collins water content).


You're a fountain of knowledge Tony. One would swear that you do extensive research on this stuff.

Re: Western Weather 2017-18 and Later

PostPosted: Mon Jan 13, 2020 1:18 am
by Sbooker
I received an email this morning and I was interested to see that Whistler is only 67% open despite plenty of snow over the past week.
Someone on the ground there right now has said patrol is having great difficulty with control work in the alpine. There's a huge slab at Symphony that is resisting being moved despite aerial bombing. Blasting was happening all day today apparently and finally Harmony opened in the afternoon. There's hope the Peak will open tomorrow.

Off that topic is a question Tony will probably know the answer to.
How much fallen snow translates to base build up? Or does it depend on the water content of the snow? For example to get a 100 inch base is 200 inches of snow required? It seems some resorts seem to 'retain' more than others.

Re: Western Weather 2017-18 and Later

PostPosted: Mon Jan 13, 2020 2:03 pm
by Tony Crocker
As I commented in the Silver Mt. avalanche thread, there is no question that Whistler's weather pattern this season is a worst case scenario for snow stability.

There are lots of variables in snow depth as percent of snowfall but water content is the most important. But of course if that high water content snowfall crosses the line into rain the ratio will go down some.

sbooker wrote:For example to get a 100 inch base is 200 inches of snow required?

If the 200 inches comes in a fairly short period of time you might get a 100 inch base. Over the course of a whole season, definitely not. That's why I commented before that if Spencer's Creek attains a 200cm base, that means it probably got 500+cm snowfall.

Alta is a good way to track this progression with reliable reporting in snowfall, base , ratio:
Dec. 8: 90, 53, 59%
Dec. 15: 125, 71, 57%
Dec. 24: 136, 65, 48%
Jan. 1: 155, 69, 45%
Jan. 11: 207, 89, 43%
Today: 242, 108, 45%

The ratio doesn't decline smoothly; it rises with a big dump than settles over a week or so after that. But over a season the snowpack compresses more and more. Alta passed the 100 inch base depth mark not long after passing the 200 inch snowfall mark. But Alta averages 500+ inches snowfall and the max base depth average is probably less than Mammoth's 139 inches. In the monster 2010-11 season my last base depth number for Alta was 196 inches on April 10 and Alta already had 637 inches snowfall by then.

I track this stat for the season and Jan. 1 vs. Nov/Dec snowfall, but most of the base depth data is from the Westwide Avalanche Network 1979-1995. I could add my manually collected base depth info since 2004 but have not gotten around to it. I'm generally suspicious of base depth data reported by resorts as it can be wildly inconsistent between different resorts.

Overall ratios of max season base depth to season snowfall are in the 25% range in the Rockies. Scattered West Coast data is in the 30% range. The ideal is to have high water content with no rain, so no surprise Mammoth and Mt. Bachelor are the leaders in this stat in the 40% range. The Jan. 1 vs. Nov/Dec snowfall stat is usually in the 40% range but can be 60% at Mammoth/Bachelor.

Re: Western Weather 2017-18 and Later

PostPosted: Mon Jan 13, 2020 4:12 pm
by Sbooker
Thanks Tony. The seemingly erratic base depth measurements across varied resorts was the reason for my question.
Now makes sense to me that the ratio declines as the season progresses because of the pure weight of the snow compressing the pack.
Thanks.

I must have missed your comments regarding the Whistler snow pack in the other thread.

Re: Western Weather 2017-18 and Later

PostPosted: Wed Jan 15, 2020 5:13 pm
by Sbooker
Whistler terrain still at 67% open.
They've managed to get nothing more in the alpine open? Will this be an indefinite thing? Or will a few days without snow allow time for things to settle and therefore control some of the area?

I have some interest in the BC resorts because I expect to be in that vicinity this time next year. (Keep flip flopping between BC and Europe).

Re: Western Weather 2017-18 and Later

PostPosted: Wed Jan 15, 2020 9:43 pm
by Tony Crocker
I certainly wouldn't worry about next year. Whistler's November this season was unprecedented.

Whistler's website https://www.whistlerblackcomb.com/the-m ... tatus.aspx shows the delayed Peak/Symphony runs open today. It may take awhile for the consolidator websites (SnoCountry, OnTheSnow) to pick up this info.

Re: Western Weather 2017-18 and Later

PostPosted: Thu Jan 16, 2020 12:59 am
by Sbooker
Tony Crocker wrote:I certainly wouldn't worry about next year. Whistler's November this season was unprecedented.

Whistler's website https://www.whistlerblackcomb.com/the-m ... tatus.aspx" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false; shows the delayed Peak/Symphony runs open today. It may take awhile for the consolidator websites (SnoCountry, OnTheSnow) to pick up this info.


Ok. Thanks. Not worried about next year as such. Just interested to see how the season plays out.
I understand this is a very late start compared to standard for them.

Re: Western Weather 2017-18 and Later

PostPosted: Thu Jan 16, 2020 1:04 pm
by Tony Crocker
SnoCountry shows Whistler/Blackcomb in full operation today.

Re: Western Weather 2017-18 and Later

PostPosted: Tue Jan 21, 2020 1:13 am
by Tony Crocker
Since January 6, defined by MarcC as the start of the "January dry spell", Alta has received 88 inches of snow. :-({|=

Re: Western Weather 2017-18 and Later

PostPosted: Fri Feb 07, 2020 10:51 am
by EMSC
Tony Crocker wrote:Since January 6, defined by MarcC as the start of the "January dry spell", Alta has received 88 inches of snow. :-({|=


I thought mid-January was the guaranteed, inevitable inversion in SLC, LOL ](*,)

On another note, after 7 weeks of 1", 2" or (I think twice 3") at Eldora (eg just enough to keep groomed surfaces decent, but allow steeps to get scraped off to rocks), we finally have "Gee Bob where did the snow stake go?":
Feb7 Eldo snowstake.JPG

Re: Western Weather 2017-18 and Later

PostPosted: Fri Feb 07, 2020 1:31 pm
by jamesdeluxe
Is Eldora generally (or comparatively) seen as being in a snow shadow? It certainly gets more snow than Keystone, right?