Alta, UT 11/25/18-1/8/19 - A Photo Timeline

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Alta, UT 11/25/18-1/8/19 - A Photo Timeline

Postby Admin » Wed Jan 09, 2019 1:51 pm

After logging 39 ski days thus far (38 at Alta - I spent one day pre-Christmas at Powder Mountain) and nearly a half million vertical feet, it's high time I put up an early season recap. I'm taking a day off the slopes, so why not today?

Unlike 2017/2018 we had a tremendous start to the season this year. Strong storms in late November and early December set the tone and built bases. No WROD this year! After drying out in mid-December, storms returned to keep holiday visitors happy through early January, and we just finished off another 27-inch storm cycle. We're now closing in on 200" season to date, and base depths are at 70". Everything -- and I mean everything -- is skiing well. The Wasatch Mountains south of I-80 are now at 109% of normal snowpack for this date.

Let's do this in a photo timeline. The captions will tell the story. Sorry that I didn't color grade some of these, they're straight outta the cell phone.

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Bases already building on November 25


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Early season tracks in West Rustler, November 26


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We scored absolute first tracks of the season on Liftline, November 26. Timing is everything!


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Wildcat, November 27.


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Only November 27, and the Nose Chutes are already open.


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Typically quiet pre-holiday early season, November 27.


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Front row parking! November 29


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Still, big powder will bring them out, at least for a couple of hours. The pre-opening line on Wildcat on December 1.


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And this is why: Wildcat on December 1.


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First day of the High T, December 1.


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Backside filling in, December 1.


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Another deep day! December 3.


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Riding Collins, December 4.


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West Rustler looking good, December 4.


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Sugarloaf Peak, December 4.


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First run on the new sticks, Rossi Super 7 RDs (145-120-126, 190 cm) - December 7. They've since become my daily drivers.


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First day of Extrovert, December 7.


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First day of Supreme, December 8.


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Looking towards the undercast surrounding Mt. Timpanogos, December 9.


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Yeah, we had that buried facet layer again this year. This was the outcome of blasting in Supreme Bowl, December 10.


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December 12, the storms return.


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Nuking! December 12.


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One happy beard-encrusted powder slut. December 12


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Supreme, with Backside beyond - December 13


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Getting the goods on December 13 (skier: Kay Tran)


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Slaying smooth, chalky wind buff on December 19 (skier: Andrea Konduc)


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December 20


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First LCC traffic snafu of the season, December 22.


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Backside, December 23


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New snowfall returns on Christmas Eve


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A peaceful Christmas morning on Backside


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COLD behind the storm, December 26.


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We call this "Behind the Rope" -- and I'll say no more. December 26


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Picture perfect snowflakes, December 26


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New Year's Eve powder on Greeley Hill


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All quiet in Catherine's Area, December 31


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Castle Apron, January 2


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Castle Apron, January 2


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Wildcat Base, January 2


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On January 4 I decided to make it a one-run day, skinning East Castle to the top.


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Avi debris in East Castle, January 4.


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Looking back along the East Castle skin track, January 4


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Heading up East Castle, January 4


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Looking back towards Supreme from the top of East Castle, January 4


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Top of the East Castle skin track, January 4


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Skier Dalles Keyes billy-goating his way through a cliff band in Supreme Bowl (look up in the trees), January 6


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Nuking again, January 6


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Digging out in the parking lot, January 6


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Admin skiing the Shoulder, January 7 (photo: Andrea Konduc)


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After our first High Notch drop of the year, January 8


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The High T will always be, well...the High T. (January 8)
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Re: Alta, UT 11/25/18-1/8/19 - A Photo Timeline

Postby Tony Crocker » Thu Jan 10, 2019 12:42 am

Thanks for the update. Once a week would be more useful than once a month, in view of how lacking in detail Alta's online snow report is. The consolidator sites, SnoCountry and OnTheSnow, ridiculously understate Alta's open trail count in the early season. In 2017 and 2018 I e-mailed Connie Marshall a few times when those sites were showing well under half open when I could tell from TR's that Alta had to be at least 80%. Nowhere on Alta's snow report page does this information show, so I have no idea what the consolidator sites are picking up. Connie appreciated the input and generally got those sites to post something more reasonable within a few days after I brought it to her attention. This season I've had to make SWAG's about Alta's percent of terrain open, generally by adding 5-10% to whatever Brighton/Solitude report. Those SWAG's were 28% Dec. 1, 75% Dec. 8, 95% on Dec. 15 & 23. Feel free to tell me if those were far off. The consolidator sites were showing less than half open at least to Dec. 15.

Alta's snowfall since Nov. 1 is 162.5 inches, 84% of normal. No I'm not counting early October since it snowed a measly 16 inches between Oct. 15 and Nov. 16, resulting in
Yeah, we had that buried facet layer again this year.

What all of this means in that average, or even a little below average, in LCC would be classified a stellar nearly anywhere else. By all accounts opening Thanksgiving weekend was sketchy. But timing of snowfall is often more important than absolute numbers, and 51 inches during the last week of November quickly brought Alta to its usual excellence.

Last year's timing was the opposite: November through January were all below average. The early season and terrain openings in Utah were the second slowest on record to 1976-77. Snowbird was only 61% open on January 31, 2018. All of this contributed to admin's lowest season which I generously estimate at 45 days. He'll blow through that soon and perhaps his 101 day record from 2010-11 will fall. =D>
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Re: Alta, UT 11/25/18-1/8/19 - A Photo Timeline

Postby lono » Thu Jan 10, 2019 8:46 am

Thanks for the update and pictures , I'll be down sometime this season.
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Re: Alta, UT 11/25/18-1/8/19 - A Photo Timeline

Postby baldyskier » Thu Jan 10, 2019 4:06 pm

Nice pictures and captions; thanks for taking the time to post them!
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Re: Alta, UT 11/25/18-1/8/19 - A Photo Timeline

Postby Admin » Thu Jan 10, 2019 7:26 pm

Tony Crocker wrote:Thanks for the update. Once a week would be more useful than once a month, in view of how lacking in detail Alta's online snow report is. The consolidator sites, SnoCountry and OnTheSnow, ridiculously understate Alta's open trail count in the early season.


The only reference to trail count in Alta's snow report, and thus in the consolidator sites as well, is how many runs were groomed -- whether or not those runs are seldom if ever groomed. Therefore, as with most things at Alta trail count is useless information, as Alta isn't about "trails." You know that. And frankly, they couldn't care less whether people understand that or not.

Tony Crocker wrote:This season I've had to make SWAG's about Alta's percent of terrain open, generally by adding 5-10% to whatever Brighton/Solitude report. Those SWAG's were 28% Dec. 1, 75% Dec. 8, 95% on Dec. 15 & 23. Feel free to tell me if those were far off.


The 95% guess is pretty accurate for mid-December -- by that point the only terrain not yet open at Alta was Baldy (Main Chute opened by the holidays). Your earlier estimates are markedly underestimated. From those with whom I've spoken who ski both Cottonwood Canyons, there's still more cover in LCC than in BCC right now. I won't publicly address my thoughts on this discrepancy as they are unsubstantiated. Snowbird is also a poor indicator, for they didn't open Mineral Basin until the Friday before Christmas despite plenty of cover, ostensibly due to staffing reasons rather than snowfall. Last I heard they still haven't opened the Rendezvous Restaurant, reportedly also for staffing reasons.

Tony Crocker wrote:Alta's snowfall since Nov. 1 is 162.5 inches, 84% of normal.


Correction: 193" https://www.alta.com/conditions/weather ... ll-history. And the October snow was still intact when the November snow fell atop it, so there's no rational reason to discount it.

Image

Here's the Snowbird Snotel as of January 2:

Image

We've received 27" of snowfall since then, putting the blue line above the red line. In fact, just yesterday Evan Thayer wrote, "Exactly one week ago, I did a snowpack analysis and said that while numbers were generally below normal, all we needed was one good storm to get us back to or above normal. Sure enough, we got that one good storm. Snowpack numbers over much of the "spine" of Utah are now at or above normal."

lono wrote:Thanks for the update and pictures , I'll be down sometime this season.


Gimme a shout!

baldyskier wrote:Nice pictures and captions; thanks for taking the time to post them!


TY
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Re: Alta, UT 11/25/18-1/8/19 - A Photo Timeline

Postby Tony Crocker » Thu Jan 10, 2019 8:13 pm

Yes I know the concept of trail count at Alta is useless. What I’d like to see is XXXX out of 2,200 acres open. Lots of areas do that including all of Vail’s. So what percent of Alta’s acreage was open Dec. 1?

And I would never use Snowbird as a guideline in early season. It takes way more coverage to open a lot of terrain there vs. Alta regardless of management practices.

I rarely count October snowfall for anyone. It needs to materially impact the opening in a positive way. This year Alta did not have enough snow to open its scheduled weekend before Thanksgiving so not a close call IMHO. And since my long term averages rarely include October it’s an apples to apples comparison.

This was a crappy early season for Park City, less than half LCC snowfall and barely half open over the holidays.
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Re: Alta, UT 11/25/18-1/8/19 - A Photo Timeline

Postby Admin » Thu Jan 10, 2019 8:34 pm

Tony Crocker wrote:Yes I know the concept of trail count at Alta is useless. What I’d like to see is XXXX out of 2,200 acres open. Lots of areas do that including all of Vail’s.


The part that you're missing is that they really don't care. Besides that, much (most?) of the acreage is behind control gates, thus the figure would fluctuate drastically by day, or even by hour. Keystone's Schoolmarm is hardly in an avalanche zone.

Tony Crocker wrote:I rarely count October snowfall for anyone. It needs to materially impact the opening in a positive way.


So, in your mind a couple of feet of snow that's still there when more snow falls on top of it doesn't impact opening in a material way? :lol: Amusing. Demonstrably inaccurate, but nevertheless amusing.

Tony Crocker wrote:This year Alta did not have enough snow to open its scheduled weekend before Thanksgiving so not a close call IMHO.


Alta's opening was scheduled for November 23, 2018 and Alta opened on schedule on November 23, 2018.

Tony Crocker wrote:And since my long term averages rarely include October it’s an apples to apples comparison.


So, what you're saying is that their data needs to conform to your constraints? That's rather narcissistic, don't you think? What happens elsewhere is irrelevant. Nobody cares if October snow disappears at Mountain High in a number of hours. If it builds a base in the Wasatch, it builds a base -- regardless of how it fits into your spreadsheets.

Tony Crocker wrote:This was a crappy early season for Park City, less than half LCC snowfall and barely half open over the holidays.


And what does Park City have to do with anything? Let's compare Hidden Valley, Missouri too, while we're at it.
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Re: Alta, UT 11/25/18-1/8/19 - A Photo Timeline

Postby Tony Crocker » Fri Jan 11, 2019 12:36 pm

There's a lot of inconsistency in when locations report snowfall. I've made a reasonable compromise of using November 1 as a start date across the board for apples-to-apples comparisons. Most places don't report October snow, including Whistler, where the base building in the alpine is more relevant than in LCC most seasons.

admin wrote:Nobody cares if October snow disappears at Mountain High in a number of hours.

That's the way it works most places. Loveland and A-Basin are cold in October but their openings are nearly all on manmade. Usually their October natural snow ends up in Kansas and in fact both of those areas have a poor record of getting terrain open in the early season, often not reaching full operation until February.

Whistler, LCC and Mammoth are among the small minority of areas where typically modest amounts of October snow are more likely to stick around and be relevant to the ski season. But the bottom line is that it doesn't make sense to report October snow routinely when 90+% of areas don't have that information.

As far as this year is concerned, Alta's excellent skiing has zero to do with what happened in early October (except perhaps in a negative way in terms of snow stability) and everything to do with the 51 inches during the last week of November. In mid-November Jim Steenburgh was bemoaning a recent trend of lean Utah Novembers and looking at some historical perspective: http://wasatchweatherweenies.blogspot.c ... mbers.html

admin wrote:Alta's opening was scheduled for November 23, 2018 and Alta opened on schedule on November 23, 2018.

Looks like a change in policy, and possibly that Thanksgiving was its earliest possible date in 2018

Season Opening Closing
Dates
18/19 11/23/2018 04/28/2019 (estimated)
17/18 12/02/2017 05/06/2018
16/17 12/02/2016 04/16/2017
15/16 11/20/2015 04/24/2016
14/15 11/21/2014 04/26/2015

Note Alta opened the weekend before Thanksgiving in 14/15 and 15/16 and I believe that was historical practice. The next two seasons there was not enough snow for Alta to open on schedule.

admin wrote:And what does Park City have to do with anything?

Snowfall is usually highly correlated even though Park City's average is 56% of Alta's. But the weather patterns vary. 2016-17 had unusual southwest flow, which resulted in Park City getting 72% of Alta's snowfall that season. So far this season it's 42%.
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Re: Alta, UT 11/25/18-1/8/19 - A Photo Timeline

Postby Admin » Fri Jan 11, 2019 1:41 pm

Tony Crocker wrote:But the bottom line is that it doesn't make sense to report October snow routinely when 90+% of areas don't have that information.


To reiterate my point from my last post in this thread, it doesn't matter to you and your spreadsheets. Two feet of additional base on opening day sure as hell matters to me .


Tony Crocker wrote:As far as this year is concerned, Alta's excellent skiing has zero to do with what happened in early October (except perhaps in a negative way in terms of snow stability) and everything to do with the 51 inches during the last week of November.


You're off course correct, those two extra feet of base did absolutely nothing to improve the early skiing. :roll: So tell me, Mr. Armchair Quarterback, I've been on the hill nearly every day since Alta's opening day. If you know so much about why Alta is skiing so well this season, precisely how many days have you actually been here?

God, you can be such a doofus sometimes.
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Re: Alta, UT 11/25/18-1/8/19 - A Photo Timeline

Postby Tony Crocker » Fri Jan 11, 2019 3:12 pm

FYI Alta's Jan. 1 base depth averages 44% of November + December snowfall. Alta is currently reporting a 66 inch base on that 163 or 194 inch snowfall. So yeah I'm sure 27 inches of Utah snow before Oct. 15 followed by a dry month settled into a 2 foot base by Nov. 16. :rotfl:
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Re: Alta, UT 11/25/18-1/8/19 - A Photo Timeline

Postby Admin » Fri Jan 11, 2019 3:30 pm

Tony Crocker wrote:FYI Alta's Jan. 1 base depth averages 44% of November + December snowfall. Alta is currently reporting a 66 inch base on that 163 or 194 inch snowfall. So yeah I'm sure 27 inches of Utah snow before Oct. 15 followed by a dry month settled into a 2 foot base by Nov. 16. :rotfl:


Before you get so full of yourself (again), I saw it with my own eyes. Did you?

And you avoid answering, how many days have you skied Alta (or even set foot in the state of Utah) this season?
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Re: Alta, UT 11/25/18-1/8/19 - A Photo Timeline

Postby Tony Crocker » Fri Jan 11, 2019 5:15 pm

Alta itself reported an 18 inch base on Nov. 18. That's what everyone reports when the only skiable base is manmade. So whatever natural base was there was no more than 18 inches. Did admin hike up to the Collins snow stake and measure 24 inches to the ground when Alta was reporting 18? I don't think so, since the area wasn't open and uphill traffic was probably not allowed at that time. Eyeballing from the parking lot is no more accurate than using what Alta actually reported and applying some common sense.

When Alta did open on Nov. 23 it was in the middle of the first big storm so it would be hard to determine what a settled snow pack might be. What would be useful to learn from admin is about how much of Alta was open on Dec. 1.

Note that Alta averages 28.5 inches in October:
https://www.alta.com/conditions/weather ... ll-history So this October was essentially average at 30.5 inches, and surely it would be better to get that snow in the second half of October than the first half.

The first 2/3 of November was seriously deficient, only 16 inches, bad enough for Steenburgh to note and analyze historically.
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Re: Alta, UT 11/25/18-1/8/19 - A Photo Timeline

Postby Admin » Fri Jan 11, 2019 5:41 pm

Tony Crocker wrote:Alta itself reported an 18 inch base on Nov. 18. That's what everyone reports when the only skiable base is manmade. So whatever natural base was there was no more than 18 inches.


You continue to publicly display your ignorance because unlike most ski areas, Alta does not ever report a manmade base, no matter how deep. They report the settled snow depth at the undisturbed mid-Collins snow plot, in the woods near the top of Blitz and Taint, as their base depth. Here's that data from Mesowest from 4 pm November 22 to 4 pm on Alta's opening day, November 23, before the November snow started falling. This finally put this ridiculous and inane discussion to bed because it shows -- <gasp!> imagine! -- a two-foot settled natural base of October snow on opening day:

mesowest.jpg
Alta Mid-Collins snow plot - November 23, 2018


You really need to get off your high horse and realize that those with direct experience know better than you sitting two large western states away in sunny Southern California -- even though the correct data is readily available if you actually bothered to look for it. It may be a difficult concept for you to grasp, but you are sometimes -- scratch that, often -- wrong because your spreadsheets are full of misinformation, mistaken assumptions, and as you admitted above, sometimes complete guessing:

Tony Crocker wrote:This season I've had to make SWAG's about Alta's percent of terrain open, generally by adding 5-10% to whatever Brighton/Solitude report.


When your errors are aptly pointed out to you, you choose to resort to argument rather than admitting that some folks may know better than you and improving your data with their first-hand knowledge. I've wasted far too much time here, and in every single freakin' year, trying to correct the misinformation that you peddle as fact.

Anything further, talk to the hand. =;
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Postby ShiftyRider » Fri Jan 11, 2019 5:49 pm

FWIW the argument that "seeing is believing" is an argument in Tony's favor. He seems to be wondering why they can't produce a snow report that faraway people can read, and realize how good it is.

Then I guess there's the "they don't care" which usually means one or the other of a crappy company, or one so completely wonderful and reliable that nothing they say would matter. Don't mind me but I think it sucks there sometimes, so let's rule out the second alternative right now LOL.

On to facetious, do I have to say these are my opinions? Isn't it obvious whose opinions they are cuz the forum software puts the names next to the posts?
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Re: Alta, UT 11/25/18-1/8/19 - A Photo Timeline

Postby Tony Crocker » Fri Jan 11, 2019 5:54 pm

It snowed 8 inches on Nov. 22. Back that MesoWest up a day to Nov. 21 and you'll see the 17-18 inch base before that storm started. The instrumentation seems to default to 146 while it's snowing.

Station_ID,Date_Time,air_temp_set_1,snow_interval_set_1,snow_depth_set_1,precip_accum_one_hour_set_1
,,Fahrenheit,Inches,Inches,Inches
CLN,11/21/2018 00:00 MST,28.99,0.0,146.0,0.0
CLN,11/21/2018 01:00 MST,28.0,0.0,146.0,0.0
CLN,11/21/2018 02:00 MST,28.99,0.0,146.0,0.0
CLN,11/21/2018 03:00 MST,28.99,0.0,146.0,0.0
CLN,11/21/2018 04:00 MST,28.0,0.0,146.0,0.0
CLN,11/21/2018 05:00 MST,27.0,0.0,146.0,0.0
CLN,11/21/2018 06:00 MST,27.0,0.0,146.0,0.0
CLN,11/21/2018 07:00 MST,28.0,0.0,146.0,0.0
CLN,11/21/2018 08:00 MST,30.0,0.0,146.0,0.0
CLN,11/21/2018 09:00 MST,28.0,0.0,146.0,0.0
CLN,11/21/2018 10:00 MST,30.0,0.0,17.0,0.0
CLN,11/21/2018 11:00 MST,33.01,0.0,17.0,0.0
CLN,11/21/2018 12:00 MST,35.01,0.0,17.0,0.0
CLN,11/21/2018 13:00 MST,37.99,0.0,0.0,0.0
CLN,11/21/2018 14:00 MST,37.99,0.0,17.0,0.0
CLN,11/21/2018 15:00 MST,36.0,0.0,18.0,0.0
CLN,11/21/2018 16:00 MST,33.01,0.0,17.0,0.0
CLN,11/21/2018 17:00 MST,33.01,0.0,18.0,0.0
CLN,11/21/2018 18:00 MST,34.0,0.0,17.0,0.0
CLN,11/21/2018 19:00 MST,34.0,0.0,18.0,0.0
CLN,11/21/2018 20:00 MST,34.0,0.0,17.0,0.0
CLN,11/21/2018 21:00 MST,34.0,0.0,18.0,0.0
CLN,11/21/2018 22:00 MST,34.0,0.0,18.0,0.0
CLN,11/21/2018 23:00 MST,33.01,0.0,18.0,0.0
CLN,11/22/2018 00:00 MST,33.01,0.0,18.0,0.0

Since admin has helpfully provided that MesoWest source:

Base was 22 inches at the end of the early October storm:
CLN,10/10/2018 09:00 MDT,24.01,14.0,22.0,0.01

By Oct. 20 it had declined to 10 inches. :-k
CLN,10/20/2018 22:00 MDT,34.0,0.0,10.0,0.0

At the end of October it was 9 inches:
CLN,10/31/2018 12:00 MDT,23.0,0.0,9.0,0.0
That's 30% of what fell in October, pretty much what one would expect in an early season month with Alta's snow density.

It snowed a little in early November, so base increased to 15 inches by Nov. 10:
CLN,11/10/2018 10:00 MST,26.01,0.0,15.0,0.0

And then the 18 inches by Nov. 20.

So the 20.5 inches that fell Nov. 1-20 added 9 inches to the 9 inch snowpack remaining from October's 30.5 inch snowfall.

Admin is free to claim great significance for that 9-inch snowpack on Oct. 31 but I'm comfortable with ignoring it, as I'm sure I'm ignoring many other places that had a few inches of snow on the ground then.
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Days in one year: 80 from Nov. 29, 2010 - Nov. 17, 2011
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