Vermont Snow Updates 2009-10

I updated my progress report last night: In gathering the Mansfield stake data my usual reference was complete while the daily archive from Burlington that JSpin mentioned was missing the 3 inches Dec. 8. ](*,) So I guess I will have to check both every time in an effort to get complete info.
Summary: 1.9” snow total in Waterbury (495’) as of 9:30 P.M. EST

Friday, December 11th, 2009: 9:30 P.M. update from Waterbury, VT

New Snow: 0.2 inches
Temperature: 21.6 F
Humidity: 53%
Dew Point: 4.7 F
Barometer: 1019 mb
Wind: 5-10 MPH
Sky: Partly cloudy
Storm snow total: 1.9 inches
Storm liquid equivalent total: 0.07 inches
Current snow at the stake: 8 inches
Season snowfall total: 14.0 inches

I found just a couple tenths of an inch of snow on the snowboard when I got home this evening. It looks like we’re approaching the end of this event, and the skies actually cleared to reveal sun at times today. The next system appears to be coming in on Sunday.

Bolton Valley, VT 12DEC2009

We headed to Bolton this afternoon with the boys for our first lift-served turns of the season. For man made options they’ve got the Mid Mountain Chair serving the usual Bear Run/Sprig O’ Pine route, and the Vista Quad servicing the Sherman’s Pass route. There was certainly a firm, manmade base underneath those routes, but they skied well with a nice amount of either natural or loosened manmade on the surface. While the conditions on those runs were decent, they paled in comparison to how soft the snow was on the natural snow runs – our first was on Glades and after that I didn’t want to go back to where they’d made snow. There are still a few rocks and bare spots to watch out for, but coverage is far enough along that one doesn’t have to worry about using rock skis unless they just want to ski everything carte blanche. We eventually met up with Stephen and his kids, and found ourselves on Fanny Hill, which also served up excellent natural snow. The mountain has also opened up some steeper natural snow terrain like Vermont 200, along with Upper Glades, Cobrass, and other Cobrass-area runs, but we didn’t venture onto anything too steep with all the little ones in tow. I snapped one quick picture from this afternoon as we headed out for our first run down Glades:


Here’s a quick update with regard to our current snowstorm in this area: We were skiing up at Stowe today, and the first flakes started to appear a bit after 1:00 P.M. There were generally very small flakes in the air, with occasional bouts of slightly heavier snow and bigger flakes, but for the most part the snow was light until we were leaving the mountain around 3:00 P.M. Driving home to Waterbury the snow was sometimes moderate in intensity and the less traveled roads were well coated. When we left the Spruce Peak base area at Stowe (~1,500’) the temperature was 28 F, and through our drive it fluctuated in the 27-28 F range. The snow has intensified here since we’ve been back here at the house, and as of 4:15 P.M. we’d just reached the 1-inch mark in terms of accumulation on the snowboard with an air temperature of 27.5 F. I’m planning to take a full set of observations and clear the snowboard at 5:00 P.M., and we’ll see where things are at then.

Summary: 2.3” snow total in Waterbury (495’) as of 5:30 P.M. EST

Sunday, December 13th, 2009: 5:00 P.M. update from Waterbury, VT

New Snow: 1.8 inches
Liquid Equivalent: 0.20 inches
Snow/Water Ratio: 9.0
Snow Density: 11.1%
Temperature: 28.0 F
Humidity: 88%
Dew Point: 23.7 F
Barometer: 1015 mb
Wind: ~Calm
Sky: Snow/Heavy Snow (flake size 2-6 mm)
Storm snow total: 1.8 inches
Storm liquid equivalent total: 0.20 inches
Current snow at the stake: 10 inches
Season snowfall total: 15.8 inches

It has certainly been coming down in the past hour or so, with 0.8 inches in the 4:15 P.M. – 5:00 P.M. period, suggesting about an inch an hour. That matches up well with visual observations where I felt the snowfall intensity was on the verge between snow/heavy snow. The snow didn’t seem as dense as 11.1% H2O that the core sample revealed, but a lot of that density if probably due to the start of the storm where the flakes were rather small. It looks like the snowfall has slowed down a little now, but there was still 0.5 inches of accumulation in the 5:00 P.M. – 5:30 P.M. period.

Tony Crocker":3d3ogeus said:
we didn’t venture onto anything too steep with all the little ones in tow.
??? As I recall this one is already kicking some serious butt:
I think Ty (and potentially even Dylan) would have been fine on anything like Vermont 200 as long as coverage was decent, but without an up close and personal view of exactly what the coverage was, I wasn't going to take a chance that they'd be able to dance around/over ledges and hit potentially small areas of good snow with pinpoint accuracy. It didn't seem worth it to risk nicked up edges and scratched bases on their skis (or Mom and Dad's for that matter). But all that was trumped anyway by the fact that it would have been way too difficult for Stephen or his daughter. I think his son might have been OK, but he probably would have been in the same boat as Ty and Dylan.

Waterbury event totals: 2.7” snow/0.32” liquid equivalent

Monday, December 14th, 2009: 6:00 A.M. update from Waterbury, VT

New Snow: 0.9 inches
Liquid Equivalent: 0.12 inches
Snow/Water Ratio: 7.5
Snow Density: 13.3%
Temperature: 33.8 F
Humidity: 97%
Dew Point: 32.7 F
Barometer: 1020 mb
Wind: Calm
Sky: Mostly Cloudy
Storm snow total: 2.7 inches
Storm liquid equivalent total: 0.32 inches
Current snow at the stake: 9 inches
Season snowfall total: 16.7 inches

There was no additional snow accumulation at the house last night after about 8:00 P.M., so the accumulation total for yesterday remained at 2.7 inches. We did get a little sleet in among the snow near the end of the precipitation, so that raised the density up a bit. I'm not sure how far north the rain got in the state, but it appears that many areas were strictly snow for this event. The accumulations reported this morning on indicate that this event topped out at about a half foot of snow in the northern half of the state, but decent accumulations still extended pretty far south. A north to south accumulations list is below:

Jay Peak: 5”
Smuggler’s Notch: 3”
Stowe: 5”
Bolton Valley: 5”
Sugarbush: 4”
Killington: 6”
Okemo: 5”
Bromley: 4”
Stratton: 2”
Mount Snow: 1”

I wasn't going to take a chance that they'd be able to dance around/over ledges and hit potentially small areas of good snow with pinpoint accuracy.
You will find that a lightweight kid with expert skills on short skis will do just that. Much better than we do. Adam hardly ever got a scratch on his ski bases until his teenage years. If only Ty was with you you probably would have gone exploring the sketchier terrain anyway.
Stowe, VT 13DEC2009

E and I were up at Stowe yesterday for a school ski program training day, and skied a bit on Spruce and bunch on Mansfield. In general, there was great coverage on the snowmaking trails, and some slick spots in the steeper areas, but a lot of great loose snow. We didn’t head off the snowmaking terrain while we were there, but I was amazed at how much natural snow terrain they had opened – I even saw Goat open from the lower entrance. We were lucky to get Tom, E’s instructor from last year, and he really made the day fun with his vast assortment of teaching techniques that we’ll be able to use on the kids (and ourselves). Being out there with him was certainly a great way to spend our first Stowe day of the season. I heard mention that there was snowmaking on Perry Merrill, but it must have been early in the morning because Tom took us down it at least a couple of times and there were no guns going. The day started out clear and cold, but by the end temperatures had moderated and it was snowing nicely – it was one of those days when you’re out on the mountain having fun and you may not have had time to notice it, but the weather did quite a 180 in the course of a few hours. I added a few shots from the morning below:




Summary: 1.0” snow total in Waterbury (495’) as of 12:00 A.M. EST

Tuesday, December 15th, 2009: 12:00 A.M. update from Waterbury, VT

New Snow: 1.0 inches
Liquid Equivalent: 0.14 inches
Snow/Water Ratio: 7.1
Snow Density: 14.0%
Temperature: 33.3 F
Humidity: 97%
Dew Point: 32.2 F
Barometer: 1014 mb
Wind: Calm
Sky: Snow (2-5 mm flakes)
Storm snow total: 1.0 inches
Storm liquid equivalent total: 0.14 inches
Current snow at the stake: 9 inches
Season snowfall total: 17.7 inches

I got caught up in work and had forgotten about the potential for some snow, and then I looked outside and saw that snow was coming down steadily with notable accumulation on the snowboard. It was almost midnight so I grabbed some observations and cleared the board. The snow is comprised of decent-sized flakes, but the temperature at our elevation isn’t all that cold so the snow is settling densely. The radar suggests we could have a few more hours of precipitation, so I expect a bit more snow to add to this total in the morning.

Summary: 1.2” snow total in Waterbury (495’) as of 6:00 A.M. EST

Tuesday, December 15th, 2009: 6:00 A.M. update from Waterbury, VT

New Snow: 0.2 inches
Liquid Equivalent: 0.06 inches
Snow/Water Ratio: 3.3
Snow Density: 30.0%
Temperature: 34.5 F
Humidity: 98%
Dew Point: 33.8 F
Barometer: 1012 mb
Wind: Calm
Sky: Cloudy
Storm snow total: 1.2 inches
Storm liquid equivalent total: 0.20 inches
Current snow at the stake: 9 inches
Season snowfall total: 17.9 inches

With 0.06 inches of additional liquid collected since my midnight observations, it’s likely that the snow had accumulated to a bit more than the 0.2 inches that was on the snowboard this morning, but the snow slushed down with temperatures a bit above freezing. My ground-based snowboards were a little less slushy due to the cooling from the snowpack, but the accumulation was still the same. This morning’s accumulation was certainly best cleared by the squeegee side of the stick, vs. the brush or scraper options. In his broadcast this morning, Roger Hill said that there might be one more light batch of precipitation coming through with this event, but with temperatures moderating even a bit more today, I don’t suspect we’ll see much in terms of snowfall accumulation at our elevation. Our next potential snowfall event appears to be tonight in association with the cold air coming into the area.

Below is the north to south list of Vermont mountains that have reported accumulations so far with this event. Some areas south of Sugarbush have reported in this morning as well, but there didn’t seem to be any new snow accumulations in that part of the state.

Jay Peak: 2”
Smuggler’s Notch: 1”
Stowe: 3”
Bolton Valley: 3”
Sugarbush: 1”

Summary: 1.0” snow total in Waterbury (495’) as of 6:00 A.M. EST

Wednesday, December 16th, 2009: 6:00 A.M. update from Waterbury, VT

New Snow: 0.9 inches
Liquid Equivalent: 0.02 inches
Snow/Water Ratio: 45.0
Snow Density: 2.2%
Temperature: 17.8 F
Humidity: 71%
Dew Point: 7.4 F
Barometer: 1024 mb
Wind: Calm
Sky: Light snow (2-4 mm flakes)
Storm snow total: 1.0 inches
Storm liquid equivalent total: 0.02 inches
Current snow at the stake: 8 inches
Season snowfall total: 18.9 inches

I checked the snowboard last night at 11:00 P.M. and found 1/10 of an inch of new snow on it in. I cleared the board, and didn’t think there was going to be much else associated with this influx of cold air, but this morning there was steady light snow outside at 6:00 A.M. and another 0.9 inches of snow on the board. It’s very fluffy stuff, very near the other end of the water content spectrum compared to yesterday morning’s accumulation. The snow tapered off somewhat as I headed into the center of Waterbury and there’s nothing falling here in Burlington.

In terms of snowfall in the mountains, it looks like there were just some minor accumulations in the northern Vermont resorts from the current event:

Jay Peak: 3”
Smuggler’s Notch: 1”
Stowe: 1”
Bolton Valley: 1”

Summary: 3.6” snow total in Waterbury (495’) as of 7:00 P.M. EST

Wednesday, December 16th, 2009: 5:00 P.M. update from Waterbury, VT

New Snow: 2.2 inches
Liquid Equivalent: 0.05 inches
Snow/Water Ratio: 44.0
Snow Density: 2.3%
Temperature: 18.9 F
Humidity: 80%
Dew Point: 11.7 F
Barometer: 1022 mb
Wind: 0-5 MPH
Sky: Light snow (2-5 mm flakes)
Storm snow total: 3.2 inches
Storm liquid equivalent total: 0.07 inches
Current snow at the stake: 9 inches
Season snowfall total: 21.1 inches

I was surprised when I saw the massive flakes falling in Burlington this afternoon, and since I hadn’t really had a chance to check on the weather all day, I at first wondered if it might be some lake effect off of Champlain. I didn’t have a chance to check out the radar, but if it wasn’t lake effect, it was likely to mean good things in the mountains and mountain valleys to the east. When I left Burlington at around 4:00 P.M., they’d probably accumulated about an inch of new snow, and I found a similar amount on my car in the center of Waterbury. Accumulations were definitely a bit higher near the house, with 2.2 inches on the snowboard at 5:00 P.M. This snow continues to be quite dry, and at 2.3% H2O, today’s accumulation was right in line with last night’s snow, which came in at 2.2% H2O.

With regard to the mountains, at most areas accumulations haven’t changed much since this morning, so it looks like this snowfall is somewhat localized. However, Bolton Valley did pick up an additional 3 inches today to bring their event total to 4 inches. That’s not too surprising based on their proximity to the Winooski Valley

Summary: 4.0” snow total in Waterbury (495’) as of 11:00 P.M. EST

Wednesday, December 16th, 2009: 11:00 P.M. update from Waterbury, VT

New Snow: 0.8 inches
Liquid Equivalent: 0.03 inches
Snow/Water Ratio: 26.7
Snow Density: 3.8% H2O
Temperature: 12.4 F
Humidity: 75%
Dew Point: 3.4 F
Barometer: 1023 mb
Wind: 0-5 MPH
Sky: Light snow (2-3 mm flakes)
Storm snow total: 4.0 inches
Storm liquid equivalent total: 0.10 inches
Current snow at the stake: 9 inches
Season snowfall total: 21.9 inches

It’s still snowing and I was still awake, so I took a round of 11:00 P.M. observations. The flake size is certainly down, and the resulting snow density is up from earlier this evening. The snow associated with the current cold air advection has generally been coming in a slow and steady way, but it has quickly become our second largest snowfall event of the season up to this point (even if simply in snow accumulation and not liquid equivalent). It looks like the moisture coming in on that northwest flow may be waning a bit based on the latest BTV composite radar image (below):


Summary: 4.3” snow total in Waterbury (495’) as of 6:00 A.M. EST

Thursday, December 17th, 2009: 6:00 A.M. update from Waterbury, VT

New Snow: 0.3 inches
Liquid Equivalent: 0.02 inches
Snow/Water Ratio: 15.0
Snow Density: 6.7% H2O
Temperature: 1.6 F
Humidity: 75%
Dew Point: -7.4 F
Barometer: 1029 mb
Wind: ~5 MPH
Sky: Partly cloudy/light snow grains (~1 mm flakes)
Storm snow total: 4.3 inches
Storm liquid equivalent total: 0.12 inches
Current snow at the stake: 9 inches
Season snowfall total: 22.2 inches

The precipitation has definitely transitioned over from the big LES/upslope-style snowflakes of yesterday into light snow grains – the sort of precipitation that just seems to fall out of the air when temperatures get cold like this. It’s not too surprising that the snow density has increased another notch. The light precipitation at the house continued on into the center of Waterbury, and similar grains seemed to be falling at times in the Richmond, but no precipitation to report in Burlington.

Waterbury event totals: 4.5” snow/0.12 liquid equivalent

Today was crystal clear, so it looks like the cold air advection snowfall event of the past few days is finally complete. I didn’t have a chance to send in an update from yesterday, but I’d arrived home in the evening to find 0.1 inches of snow on the snowboard. The origin of that snow was pretty obvious. Yesterday, while it was fairly clear in the Burlington area, I could see clouds localized over the Green Mountains dropping that cold weather diamond dust. There was another 0.1 inches on the board this morning, and that seemed to be the last of the moisture. I didn’t measure the liquid from either of those accumulations since it would have been rather minimal. The view from Burlington was amazing this afternoon; the air was so clear and dry that distant features (like the towers on the Nose of Mt. Mansfield) were standing out vividly in the Green Mountains. It was like looking through binoculars. There is a dramatic visible line at around the 2,000’ elevation in the mountains, above that line everything suddenly turns bright white. I’m not sure exactly what it is - perhaps it’s the freezing line left over from when the lower elevations warmed up earlier in the week.

I was somewhat surprised to see the snowpack at the stake on Mt. Mansfield take a quick jump up to 30 inches as of yesterday afternoon’s reading (current data plot below). This mid to late week snow has been incredibly dry, and even though we’ve picked up 4 ½ inches of accumulation, the level of our snowpack in Waterbury has been pretty steady because the powder settles so much. It’s possible that Mt. Mansfield was aided by wind loading or simply enough snow/moisture to bump up the snowpack, but the stake came in with a reading of 30 inches again this afternoon so if that new accumulation was going to settle, I think it would have done so by now. I’m hearing good things about the quality of the snow in the higher elevations right now, which is good because it doesn’t sound like there’s any substantial new snow coming until possibly next week.


Bolton Valley and Backcountry 19DEC2009

Yesterday morning it was cold, -7.4 degrees F cold at our house in Waterbury (495’), so I waited until the afternoon to head up to Bolton for some turns. By that point, the temperature was a reasonable 15 F up in the village (~2,100’). I did a quick check on the snow on that elevation, finding about 6 inches of powder over the base in undisturbed areas around the parking lot. It was opening day for the Wilderness Chair, so I took the opportunity to catch the lift assist and check out the condition of the powder off the back side. In line with what I’ve been hearing, there is excellent snow out there, especially up high. I explored some new lines on the south side of the bowl below Paradise Pass, and generally found 8 to 14 inches of powder over the base. The powder is still light and dry, but settled, so it’s not quite as airy as it might have been when it was fresh. There had been little if any wind back there though, so the snow is very consistent. I was on my old Telemark skis, which aren’t very fat, and there were no concerns about coverage, or even hitting the base. There’s some degree of density gradient in the snow, so it really skis without a bottom, and there’s no need at all for rock skis in that area. When I did checks for depth of the whole snowpack, I got readings in the 22 to 31 inch range, which seems pretty consistent with the Mt. Mansfield stake report of 30 inches at ~3,700’.

I finished off the day with a run down the front side on Peggy Dow’s and Old Turnpike. Coverage is excellent, with just the usual steep areas near the top of Peggy Dow’s showing a few windswept or scraped spots to watch out for. Below that, I don’t think I saw anything of concern on the more blue/green terrain. It’s all natural snow on Wilderness, and the quality of the packed powder is very high. Even though my descent was at the end of the day, there was still plenty of powder along the edges of the trail as well, so I darted in and out of that. They’ve also got Bolton Outlaw and some other steep trails open in the Wilderness area; I didn’t ski anything in the black diamond range, but from afar I could see that coverage is decent. Still, those steep trails have some rocks and grass visible. I’d say either be careful and stay on the edges of the trail or go with rock skis if you want the freedom to go anywhere on those runs.

A couple images relating to the conditions and a Google Earth plot showing the general area of the report are included below; there's a bit more in the full report at SkiVT-L.