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11/12 Season Reviews

PostPosted: Tue May 01, 2012 10:45 pm
by Staley
I know we've had the topics in the past, so I figured I'd start this years. I managed to get 60 days in, and I skied powder 18 of them. Obviously, the snow was pretty horrible early on and I had many early season days where I only skied groomers, but the snow did get better and March/April skiing wasn't considerably worse than last year.

Using very imprecise counting methods, I skied about 30% more vertical this season than last, but got 33% less powder vertical. Last year was ~37% powder, this year was ~18%.

Re: 11/12 Season Reviews

PostPosted: Wed May 02, 2012 8:44 am
by rfarren
I skied zero days this year:
-zero days in powder
-zero days on ice
-read way too many posts with envy.

Re: 11/12 Season Reviews

PostPosted: Wed May 02, 2012 12:32 pm
by Tony Crocker
Staley wrote:Using very imprecise counting methods, I skied about 30% more vertical this season than last, but got 33% less powder vertical. Last year was ~37% powder, this year was ~18%.

Those powder percentages would be quite good for most of us whose skiing is on scheduled trips. I'm fairly sure Staley has the flexibility to chase most Mammoth storms on short notice. Otherwise I don't think he would be anywhere near 18% in a year like this.

Locked into one area like he is, I'm not surprised at the inverse relationship between powder and total vertical. In low snow years he'll be on groomers more, and as noted from the recent weekend Staley runs up insane amounts of vertical on the groomers.

As noted in other threads, the tracking of vertical and powder is illuminating for an individual to compare days/seasons but not as good to compare different skiers with different priorities. I'm sure Patrick's vertical dropped precipitously from 2009-10 to 2010-11 when he was more confined to the Ottawa molehills even though his day count didn't fall much until this year. Admin's days are very different from Staley's. If there's no decent powder or off-piste skiing, he blows the day off or goes home early.

My season was the opposite of Staley's. Powder went up a lot to ~50% higher than the previous record year and vertical per day went down. Most of that was due to 14 days of cat/heli vs. previous record of 9. However my lift-served powder percentage was well above average. Most of that is luck, being in western Canada and Schweitzer in January/early February and being in Tahoe for 3 powder days during what was otherwise a horrible season there. In each of my 2 retirement years I've extended a Utah trip by a day to catch more powder. I also had some discretion on that last storm at Mammoth April 11-13.

I'm sure we'll be hearing from a few easterners on this thread soon. While some of us have few days left, as noted last year May 1 seems like the right time to start this discussion. It's going to take some effort this year for anyone to keep going past Memorial Day.
rfarren wrote:I skied zero days this year:
-zero days in powder
-zero days on ice
-read way too many posts with envy.

But if an easterner had to miss an entire season, surely this was the one.

Re: 11/12 Season Reviews

PostPosted: Wed May 02, 2012 3:56 pm
16 days total which matches my 2010 newborn in the house season. I probably could have gotten a few more, but was unmotivated by conditions once I returned from Europe. March & April were generally horrible for skiing, but nice and warm for other activities on the front range. I'll save my efforts for a better product next season, where hopefully I can start getting the little one on snow a few times.

Days Resort
6 Eldora
2 Brevent-Flegere, FR
2 Grand Montets, FR
5 La Grave, FR
1 Alpe Dhuez, FR

So 4 new resorts and first time ever skiing the Alps in spite the low totals. However essentially no powder at all whatsoever on any of the days. Closest I got was one day at Eldora with nicely soft off piste conditions.

Here is why I skied Eldora exclusively in Colo this year:
Colo basin 11-12.gif
YIKES! what a horrible snow year for the Colorado river basin

S Platte 11-12.gif
Whereas Eldora in the South Platte river basin was OK and a lot closer to
the median until early March came along... Lots more upslope than westerly storms this season - especially early.

These are from the from the USDA site

Re: 11/12 Season Reviews

PostPosted: Wed May 02, 2012 4:16 pm
by Staley
Tony Crocker wrote:
Staley wrote:Using very imprecise counting methods, I skied about 30% more vertical this season than last, but got 33% less powder vertical. Last year was ~37% powder, this year was ~18%.

Those powder percentages would be quite good for most of us whose skiing is on scheduled trips. I'm fairly sure Staley has the flexibility to chase most Mammoth storms on short notice. Otherwise I don't think he would be anywhere near 18% in a year like this.

Schedule flexibility played a huge role. Interviews somewhat limited my skiing to Saturday and Sunday only in late January-February, but outside of that range, I don't think I missed a single major storm at Mammoth.

Tony Crocker wrote:Locked into one area like he is, I'm not surprised at the inverse relationship between powder and total vertical. In low snow years he'll be on groomers more, and as noted from the recent weekend Staley runs up insane amounts of vertical on the groomers.

I looked at this season and the past one with a bit more detail. I averaged about 21,400 ft. of vertical per day last year. This season was 22,000 ft. per day. However, if you remove 3 high-vertical outlier days at the end of the season (which were also the first 3 days I had on new skis that I was having fun trying out), this year's average was only 20,000 ft. per day.

On pure groomer days, I do actually tend to quit early in the day. There were plenty of days this year where I only skied 2-3 hours. However, given the high-speed lifts at Mammoth and my skiing style, I tend to rack up a lot of vertical in that small amount of time.

Another measure i used last year was the price per day of my skiing. Last year that figure was $27/day. This year, increased gas prices meant I spent more on gas (about $100 total). Food once again cost $4/day. My pass was $5/day. Lodging was free. That gives me a total of about $10.50 per day of skiing--not too bad!

Re: 11/12 Season Reviews

PostPosted: Wed May 02, 2012 7:09 pm
by Tony Crocker
Note from EMSC's graphs that the upper Colorado basin snowpack normally peaks April 14, and in the upslope areas on/east of the Divide April 23. This year was a true anomaly.

Re: 11/12 Season Reviews

PostPosted: Thu Jul 05, 2012 12:53 am
by Tony Crocker
Area Sum of Days Sum of Vertical Sum of Powder
Northstar 1 27.9 16
Mammoth 9 171.4 30
Snow Summit 1 19 0
Alpine Meadows 1 15.5 5
Snowbird 6 117.2 0
Alta 5 80.2 29
Mt. Bachelor 6 166.4 2
Jackson Hole 4 75.9 1
Powder Mt. 1 14 8
Crystal Mt. 1 15.1 0
Grand Targhee 1 22.9 4
Whitewater 2 29.5 11
Red Mt. 2 26 1
Snow Basin 1 15.3 0
Big White 1 11.2 0
Schweitzer 2 49.4 15
Mt. Rose 1 19.6 9
Alyeska 1 13.9 0
Revelstoke 1 14.2 3
Mustang Powder Snowcat 4 65.3 60
*Martial Glacier, Argentina 1 0.9 0
*Wiencke Island, Antarctica 1 0.9 0
*Paradise Bay, Antarctica 1 1.5 1
*Brabant Island, Antarctica 1 2.6 2
*Charlotte Bay, Antarctica 1 1.2 0
*King George Island, Antarctica 1 1.3 0
*Livingston Island, Antarctica 1 2.3 0
*Baldface Snowcat 4 40.3 37
*Silver Mt. 1 15.1 2
*Montana Snowbowl 1 22 0
*White Grizzly Snowcat 4 52.5 48
*Points North Heliski 2 40 7
*Mt. Rainier Sunrise 1 1.1 0
Season Totals 71 1151.6 291

*New Area

Defining a season as October 1 - September 30 the 71 days in 2011-12 fell just shy of the 72 in 2010-11. Vertical was down more because of 9 backcountry days this year vs. 5 last year.

My recent trip put me over admin's 2011-12 season day count; I doubt that will ever happen again with more typical Utah snow. It also put my likely final streak total at 21 months vs. admin's 20 from 2004-06. But Patrick is at 82 months and check out Bob Peters' dedication at logging month #177 on June 29 after foot surgery on May 2: ... -6-28-2012

I did set a few records in 2011-12:
The 291K of powder blew away my previous record of 195K in 2005-06.
However 25% powder is second to 27% in 1998-99.
October 7 was my earliest start date, a record that is likely to stand up.
33 different areas in one season comfortably exceeded the 28 in 2006-07.
I skied 13 new areas vs. 12 in 2006-07. Area count is now 170.
First day over 50K at Mt. Bachelor April 7.
12 days of snowcat skiing, former high 9 in 2009-10.
9 days of backcountry earned turns vs. 5 in 2010-11 and 7 during my previous 35 seasons combined.

Re: 11/12 Season Reviews

PostPosted: Fri Aug 17, 2012 9:06 pm
by J.Spin
I’ve written up my summary for the 2011-2012 ski season in a similar manner to the 2010-2011 Ski Season Summary that I put together last year. Hopefully these data will be useful for Tony in his Vermont Weekly Snow Conditions Charts. Beyond that, I know there’s not much interest in Northern Vermont skiing on this forum, but hopefully the information and links will be of some utility to others as well. The general synopsis text (with sections covering snowfall, off piste/tree skiing, and snow quality), and the linked list of daily reports are included below. For those interested in the more in-depth monthly synopses as included in last year’s report, they can be found in the full text at our website, but I have included the photographs selected from our collection for each month of the ski season, and added them at the end for some visuals in this post. Our 2011-2012 winter weather summary is also complete, with the storm by storm details for the 45 accumulating winter storms that reached our valley location this season – links to several relevant storms are also integrated into the ski season summary text included here. I’ve provided direct links to the 2011-2012 ski season and 2011-2012 winter weather summaries below, and the excerpt text from the ski season summary follows:

With everyone having their own unique perspective on skiing, combined with the multitude of weather-related factors involved in winter recreation in general, there’s usually ample room for debate about where a ski season sits relative to average. However, when it comes to the 2011-2012 ski season in Northern Vermont (and perhaps to an even greater extent in other parts of the Northeastern U.S.) most any metric would set it firmly in the lower half of seasons. Some key contributing factors to the outcome of the season were temperatures, which were above average for every month from October through May (specific monthly temperature departures are available in the monthly detail section), overall precipitation, which was well below average during that period, and as expected with that combination, snowfall that was well below average. However, the numbers don’t always tell the whole story, and indeed that was the case in Northern Vermont this past season. If numbers aren’t everything, perhaps timing is everything, and the snow machine of the Northern Greens exhibited some impeccable timing for some of the busiest ski periods when it came down to it. There was also a consistency and intensity in backside snows that seemed to heal just about every mixed precipitation event. So while I don’t think that the winter of 2011-2012 can be considered anything but below average around here, the bigger story might just be how surprisingly good it was. That story unfolds in the details below.

Snowfall: A very reliable and trustworthy indicator of just how poor the winter’s snowfall was for the general Northern Vermont area, is the data from the area’s first-order weather station at the National Weather Service Office in Burlington. Out of 127 years worth of data going back to the winter of 1884-1885, the 37.7" of total snowfall in Burlington during 2011-2012 was the third lowest in their records (only 1912-1913 with 31.3" and 1904-1905 with 32.0" were lower). Interestingly this third lowest recorded snowfall obtained in 2011-2012 came right on the heels of Burlington’s third highest recorded snowfall of 128.4" in 2010-2011. Relative to average snowfall, which for the 1884-2011 period of record in Burlington is 73.3", 2011-2012 came in at just 51.4%. Burlington is the local first-order weather station for the area, but despite its proximity to the spine of the Northern Greens, the Champlain Valley’s snowfall doesn’t necessarily correlate with what goes on in the mountains. Looking next at Winooski Valley snowfall data obtained from our house, which sits right along the spine and is a decent representation of what happens in the mountain valleys of the Greens, we find that snowfall was well below average during all the key winter months, and our season total was 115.3". Not surprisingly, this is the lowest snowfall total obtained in the six years that we have collected rigorous data at our location, and it’s almost two standard deviations below the mean (172.1 ± 31.5") obtained from 2006-2011. However, at 67.0% of the average snowfall, it’s not quite as low as what Burlington experienced. Like the local mountains themselves, some spots in the mountain valleys have what Powderfreak refers to as a snowfall insurance policy, which comes in the form of upslope snow. Burlington and the Champlain Valley can get in on a bit of mesoscale weather action in the form of lake-effect snow from Lake Champlain, but it’s not a major contributor to snowfall due to the size and orientation of the lake. To the east of the Champlain Valley however, the upslope snow, sometimes referred to as Champlain Powder™, is what sets the snowfall in the Greens apart from areas that rely solely on synoptic precipitation. Interestingly, as we head up in elevation above our house in the valley, we find Bolton Valley reporting a very similar deviation from average snowfall compared to Burlington this season. Bolton recorded 159" of snow this past season, which based on Bolton’s reported seasonal snowfall mean of 312", comes in at just 51.0% of average. That amount of snow is extremely low for this area, and is more akin to what one might find in a typical season at Lake Louise Ski Area in Alberta vs. the spine of Vermont’s Northern Greens. The updated table with Bolton Valley’s snowfall from the past several seasons is added below, which illustrates the strong snowfall deviation from average seen in 2011-2012:


Although still well below average all around, there certainly was a trend toward slightly better snowfall as one continued to head north in the state, with the northward trend of 63.4% at Stowe, 66.6% at Smuggler’s Notch, and 71.5% at Jay Peak relative to average. A contributor to the low snowfall at the resorts was the fact that there was really only one big, multi-foot storm cycle during the heart of the season. That storm came at the end of February and dropped 40" at Jay Peak, just on the heels of a couple smaller systems for a total in excess of 50" of snow in just a few days. The resulting skiing was fantastic due the density gradient that was set up by the way it fell - 1 to 2 feet of dense snow came first, and it was topped off with another couple feet of champagne that finished at around 2% H2O. The snowpack at the Mt. Mansfield Stake jumped from 49" to 81" during that period, and the icing on the cake was that the storm cleared right out to produce bluebird skies on Feb 26th. Unfortunately, one great storm doesn’t make a season. Based on estimations from my weather data, on average we should only expect one or two of those 40"+ storms per season, but they would typically be backed up by several 20+ storms, and the deficiency of those is part of what left the overall snowfall lacking.

Tree Skiing: In the past I’ve used empirical data from trip reports to establish a mean date for the start of tree skiing in Northern/North-Central Vermont, and as I outlined in last year’s ski season summary, that analysis revealed a date of December 10th ± 13 days, with an average depth at the stake of 28.1 ± 6.5 inches. However, after a comment from Powderfreak back on December 12th, in which he indicated that he’d observed tree skiing on appropriate terrain at Stowe to start roughly when the snow depth at the Mt. Mansfield Stake hit 24 inches, I decided to run an analysis using snowpack data from the stake. Instead of just the 15 to 20 seasons worth of ski trip reports that are available since the arrival of the internet era, there are almost 60 seasons worth of data available from the Mt. Mansfield Stake. Analysis of the stake data using the first date of attaining 24" of snow depth or higher as the start of tree skiing, actually produced a very similar result (December 12th ± 19 days, with an average depth at the stake of 25.8 ± 2.7 inches) to what was obtained from the empirical data. With the date being so close to what I determined from the empirical data, I’m pretty confident that the date of attaining 24" in the stake data will serve just as well in determining the average start of tree skiing, and the relative start date for individual seasons. With the median and mode for that analysis coming in quite close to the mean, the distribution seems normal, so the standard deviation in the data should have some predictive value. This 24-inch rule isn’t meant to replace the traditional 40-inch rule, but it’s there to compliment it as a more practical measure of when people actually start venturing into the trees in this area (the fact that it is corroborated by many years of empirical data can testify to that). The point at which the stake hits 24 inches is a decent mark for when appropriately maintained trees are going to start offering up good turns for those with the right skills and knowledge, whereas once the stake hits 40 inches, skiers can pretty much venture into most off-piste areas with a good degree of confidence. Between those two points is going to be a continuum of increasing access to off piste terrain. Moving from the 24" depth to the 40" depth will typically take place during the month of December, with the snowpack at the Mt. Mansfield Stake reaching the 40" mark at the beginning of January on average.

So where did the 2011-2012 season stack up in terms of the start of tree skiing in Northern Vermont? Not surprisingly, when assessed by the new method of reaching 24" at the Mt. Mansfield Stake, it’s down near the bottom of the pack. Below, I’ve added a scatter plot that I generated using the Mt. Mansfield snowpack data; the X-axis is a timeline spanning from October to January, and the blue stars represent the dates when 24 inches of snow depth was attained at the stake for the various years from 1954-2012. The red data point is for the 2011-2012 season (date of attaining 24" = January 3rd, 2012), so the season is indeed more than one standard deviation on the late side (the large vertical line in the plot is the mean, and the small vertical lines are ± 1 standard deviation), although it actually isn’t as late a start as some seasons:


For those that want the actual raw data from the above plot to see where specific seasons stacked up in terms of reaching that 24-inch mark at the stake, the numbers are available in my initial post with the plot in the New England Regional Forum at American Weather.

How did the 24-inch snowpack depth analysis compare to what we actually found on the ground this season? Since skiing natural snow terrain on piste began first, I’ll mention that momentarily before discussing the trees. I saw the first signs of people skiing natural snow trails this season on December 27th at Bolton, and coverage certainly looked sufficient on at least moderate terrain. The tracks I saw at that point already looked old, and I suspect that on piste natural snow coverage was actually sufficient the day before (December 26th), thanks to the Christmas Day storm. Bolton picked up close to a foot of snow from that storm, and at the end of the day on the 26th, the snow depth at the Mt. Mansfield Stake came in at 14. The first day that we actually ventured into the trees at Bolton Valley was December 29th, and as I stated in my report from that day, we only ventured in for one run because the base was just a little too thin to really ski with confidence in there and enjoy it. And, when the snowpack was measured at the Mt. Mansfield Stake later that afternoon, the depth was 21 inches, just a bit shy of that 24-inch mark. By the next day, we were skiing natural snow trails with more than enough coverage, but it wasn’t until January 7th at Bolton that I commented about some of the trees finally being ready after the boys and I skied Wilderness Woods. The measurement from the stake came in at 24 inches that afternoon, and we were clearly reaching another threshold of sorts, so attaining that 24-inch depth at the stake was indeed a decent measure for the start of tree skiing this season in our experience. Powderfreak and I have discussed how that 24-inch number is going to be quite rough, since a 24-inch depth attained mostly with fluff will represent something substantially different that a 24-inch depth attained with cement, but it looks like it’s going to be a decent approximation of when people start to take their initial forays into the trees and find the conditions good enough to stay there.

Looking at tree/off piste skiing for the season as a whole, there’s no question that it was curtailed relative to normal. The very late date of reaching 24 inches at the stake in the beginning of January (January 3rd) is 1.13 standard deviations beyond the mean according to the Mt. Mansfield snowpack analysis, putting it close to the bottom 10% of seasons. When this is coupled with the large amount of melting in Mid March due to record heat, which closed a lot of terrain, it equates to a tree skiing season that is roughly 2 1/2 months long, compared to the more typical length of 4 to 5 months. The off piste season was certainly condensed, and while coverage was there to enable plenty of access in January (Stowe reached 100% open status by January 14th), tree skiing really seemed to take forever to hit its stride; to wit, the snowpack at the stake didn’t hit the 40-inch mark until the end of January.

Snow Quality: In last season’s summary, I checked my trip reports and found those days in which we were skiing powder, typically suggesting a fairly high level of snow quality, and those days in which powder skiing wasn’t available, often indicating some sort of thaw (or in one case this season, insufficient base depths). For the list of outings below, I’ve again placed a P whenever we were skiing powder, and put a red X if we weren’t, to reveal the temporal pattern associated with that categorization. Outings with an X may still be providing decent skiing such as wet snow, corn, etc. (or else we’d probably be doing something other than skiing) but aside from the spring period, there’s going to be a price to pay in terms of snow quality after these episodes when temperatures eventually cool back down. Chronologically, the first X appears for the outing on December 10th at Bolton Valley. The lack of powder skiing on that date wasn’t actually due to temperature fluctuations, but instead due to the fact that there just wasn’t enough natural snow; substantial snowfall was very slow in coming in early December. The natural snow depth up above 2,000’ in the Bolton Valley Village was still only 2-3 at that point, so short of junkboarding, skiing was really restricted to just the limited terrain that had manmade snow. The next X appears on our Bolton Valley outing on December 31st, and it represented a notable bump in the winter weather. The holiday week wasn’t too cold, but it was certainly snowy like one would expect at Christmas time in Vermont, with three decent snowstorms totaling more than two feet of snow at the northern resorts (refer to the December entry in the detailed monthly section for more information). So there was indeed some great powder skiing during that stretch. The main factor that kept the overall quality of the skiing from being really outstanding was the lack of base. The natural snow terrain that was open was excellent, but there still hadn’t been enough snow to open the steepest terrain without snowmaking. The X in this case comes in at the tail end of the holiday period where there was a thaw. I described the skiing on New Year’s Eve as reminding me of the Pacific Northwest, with low hanging clouds on the mountains, and dense snow underfoot. I’m not sure how long the resulted firm snow conditions lasted, because three small to moderate storms came through the area that week, with the first one dropping a half foot of snow in the mountains. By the following Saturday there was powder skiing again for the weekend. From that point on there were no interruptions in powder skiing though to mid March – at least from our perspective; we don’t ski every day of course, but we did ski every weekend through that period. However, Powderfreak does ski just about every day of the season at Stowe, and he noted that there were only a few select days without powder. I’ll speak more about that at the end of this section. By far the section of the outings list that stands out the most is the second half of March – the dramatic change in conditions is quite obvious, with seven outings in a row marked with an X. Record warm weather came in with a vengeance in mid March, and it was all spring skiing until the weather cooled back down to normal levels and produced snowstorms for the final two thirds of April. We finally finished off our season with a couple of corn snow days in May, a point in the season where that type of snow is the norm.

The 2010-2011 ski season was the first one to which I applied this type of powder skiing analysis, and relative to what I thought it would look like, I was certainly surprised by the consistent availability of powder conditions once I saw the data lined up. But as surprised as I was with that result, the 2011-2012 analysis is even more astounding. Somehow there was good to great skiing every weekend/holiday period throughout most of the core ski season, despite the overwhelmingly warm temperatures and low snowfall. As I mentioned above in the snowfall section, Bolton Valley reported just 159" of snow for their entire season. That’s ridiculously low – it’s half their usual snowfall, and we typically average more snow than that at our house, almost 3,000’ below the upper elevations of the resort where the snowfall measurements are taken. That amount of snow might suffice for some decent skiing in an environment like the high elevations of the Rockies with very consistent winter temperatures, but this season in Vermont was anything but that. There were temperature issues throughout the season, and January was a perfect example – at the end of the month, local meteorologist Roger Hill pointed out that we’d had seven January thaws. I had many ski weather-related conversations with Powderfreak in the 2011-2012 ski thread at American Weather’s New England Subforum about the surprisingly high quality of the skiing, and there was certainly consistency in conditions, but we also determined that it was an issue of timing. Snowfall was low, and spells of warm temperatures abundant, but storms were just timed well to ensure that most snow quality issues were remedied by the weekend. Although the season was warm on average, we didn’t have many big rain events, and any that we did have seemed to be quickly covered by backside snow. There was indeed something special about the timing though, because somehow we had weekend after weekend of nice skiing with powder on Bolton’s 159" of snow. The detailed reports below and the monthly ski summaries that follow, provide the specifics of how it all went down, and the frequency and distribution of P in the outings list really speaks to that theme of surprisingly good:

P Pico, VT, Sunday 30OCT2011
P Bolton Valley, VT, Wednesday 23NOV2011
X Bolton Valley, VT, Saturday 10DEC2011
P Stowe, VT, Saturday 17DEC2011
P Bolton Valley, VT, Friday 23DEC2011 (A.M. Session)
P Bolton Valley, VT, Friday 23DEC2011 (P.M. Session)
P Bolton Valley, VT, Saturday 24DEC2011
P Bolton Valley, VT, Tuesday 27DEC2011
P Bolton Valley, VT, Wednesday 28DEC2011
P Bolton Valley, VT, Thursday 29DEC2011
P Bolton Valley, VT, Friday 30DEC2011
X Bolton Valley, VT, Saturday 31DEC2011
P Bolton Valley, VT, Saturday 07JAN2012
P Stowe, VT, Sunday 08JAN2012
P Bolton Valley, VT, Thursday 12JAN2012
P Bolton Valley, VT, Saturday 14JAN2012
P Bolton Valley (Timberline), VT, Sunday 15JAN2012
P Stowe, VT, Sunday 16JAN2012
P Bolton Valley Nordic & Backcountry, VT, Saturday 21JAN2012
P Stowe, VT, Sunday 22JAN2012
P Stowe, VT, Sunday 29JAN2012
P Bolton Valley, VT, Saturday 04FEB2012
P Stowe, VT, Sunday 05FEB2012
P Bolton Valley, VT, Saturday 11FEB2012
P Bolton Valley, VT, Saturday 18FEB2012
P Bolton Valley Nordic & Backcountry, VT, Sunday 19FEB2012
P Bolton Valley Nordic/Backcountry & Bolton Mtn, VT, Monday 20FEB2012
P Bolton Valley, VT, Thursday 23FEB2012
P Bolton Valley, VT, Saturday 25FEB2012
P Stowe, VT, Sunday 26FEB2012
P Stowe, VT, Friday 02MAR2012
P Bolton Valley, VT, Saturday 03MAR2012
P Stowe, VT, Sunday 04MAR2012
P Bolton Valley, VT, Wednesday 07MAR2012
P Bolton Valley, VT, Saturday 10MAR2012
P Stowe, VT, Sunday 11MAR2012
X Bolton Valley, VT, Saturday 17MAR2012
X Stowe, VT, Sunday 18MAR2012
X Stowe, VT, Friday 23MAR2012
X Bolton Valley, VT, Saturday 24MAR2012
X Stowe, VT, Sunday 25MAR2012
X Stowe, VT, Saturday 31MAR2012
X Stowe, VT, Sunday 01APR2012
P Stowe, VT, Tuesday 10APR2012
P Jay Peak, VT, Thursday 12APR2012
P Bolton Valley, VT, Saturday 14APR2012
P Stowe, VT, Friday 27APR2012
P Stowe, VT, Saturday 28APR2012
X Jay Peak, VT, Saturday 12MAY2012
X Mount Washington, NH, Sunday 27MAY2012


















At the monthly level, the 2011-2012 ski season was a simply amazing stretch of positive temperature departures followed by even more positive temperature departures, and that trend has continued right into the summer, with June and July coming in at +1.9 F and +2.4 F respectively. August is currently coming in with a positive departure as well, and if it ends up staying that way, it will be the 17th month in a row in the positive departure streak for Burlington. Those departures are going to flip at some point, and it’s going to feel quite chilly by comparison. Despite that trend though, even when combined with below normal precipitation, the quality of the ski surfaces encountered this past season in Northern Vermont was quite good. I’m not sure if I’m willing to say better than average, since I don’t think surfaces were better than average at Bolton Valley, but I am willing to say that in our visits to Stowe this season, the typical on piste surfaces we encountered were actually better than the previous season. One thought is that the lack big storms in general also played out as a lack of notable rainstorms, which while generally infrequent in the heart of winter anyway, are likely more detrimental to the snow surfaces than more modest events with simply some mixed precipitation in the middle. The Northern Greens certainly showed throughout this past season that they have the ability to cover the back side of mixed precipitation events with additional snow quite effectively when there’s at least some moisture in the atmosphere to be wrung out. The fact that business was down somewhat at the resorts, may also have contributed to less skier traffic and slightly elevated on piste snow quality. Whatever the case, for a ski season that felt like an abysmal perfect storm of sorts with regard to temperatures and precipitation, 2011-2012 in Northern Vermont can certainly be described as surprisingly good.

Re: 11/12 Season Reviews

PostPosted: Sun Aug 19, 2012 5:04 am
by Tony Crocker
I'm in Bali and not getting online too often, so no time to follow up on JSpin's links for now.

I had read some of his reports earlier to update the Northern Vermont conditions page. I have not uploaded that, but I was somewhat surprised that 2011-12 was only slightly worse than the previous bad year in that chart in 2001-02.

I have always said that rain is the chief culprit when eastern skiing is bad. JSpin's analysis of 2011-12 reinforces my impression there, as lack of the really destructive rain/freeze events mitigated the exceptionally low snowfall and consistent warm temps.

From what I've read and recall, the reality of eastern skiing outside Northern Vermont was pretty awful in 2011-12. Interesting about JSpin saying Jay did best. I have Jay at a record low in 2011-12.

Re: 11/12 Season Reviews

PostPosted: Fri Aug 24, 2012 6:19 pm
by J.Spin
Tony Crocker wrote:From what I've read and recall, the reality of eastern skiing outside Northern Vermont was pretty awful in 2011-12. Interesting about JSpin saying Jay did best. I have Jay at a record low in 2011-12.

That’s interesting Tony, I wouldn’t think that 71.5% of average snowfall would be a record for Jay Peak; looking at your Northeast Ski Areas Table, the standard deviation in that data set (21.3%) is actually slightly higher than for Smuggler’s Notch (19.6%) or Stowe (18.0%). This season was only 1.33 S.D. from the mean, so 9.2% of seasons should have even lower snowfall. Perhaps the sample size is still on the small side though – how many seasons are in the data set?

Re: 11/12 Season Reviews

PostPosted: Sat Aug 25, 2012 4:49 am
by Tony Crocker
Jay goes back to 1981-82. Lots of data but not the other worst NE snow year of 1979-80. 226 in 1987-88 was the closest to the 224 in 2011-12.

Smuggs did not provide April 2012 data because they were not open. But Smuggs has 2 lower years that 2011-12 in 1990-91 and 1994-95. I have 19 complete seasons for Smuggs.

The Mansfield stake had 158.7 in 2011-12, better only than 154.2 in 1979-80 and 152 in 1989-90.

I have 25 seasons for Sugarbush. The 162 in 2011-12 was worst with next lowest 185 in 2001-02.

Killington I have complete 46 years. 2011-12 is second worst at 152. 1979-80 had 138.

The other 46-year data set is Mt Washington, where the 138.7 in 1979-80 stands out like a sore thumb. There are no other years under 180 and 2011-12 had 230.

Re: 11/12 Season Reviews

PostPosted: Mon Sep 03, 2012 7:18 am
by J.Spin
Tony Crocker wrote:Jay goes back to 1981-82. Lots of data but not the other worst NE snow year of 1979-80.

I’m thinking that must be it; so maybe not lowest snowfall of all time, but probably lowest snowfall for Jay Peak in the last 30 years? There’s certainly some solace in that information based on the quality/quantity of the skiing we did have in 2011-2012. What could have really sent it over the edge would have been to couple low snowfall like that with substantial rain, but hopefully that sort of thing is self-limiting – if overall moisture is reduced the way it was last season, there’s not likely to be a lot of rain to go around.

Re: 11/12 Season Reviews

PostPosted: Mon Sep 03, 2012 9:48 pm
by Tony Crocker
JSpin wrote: What could have really sent it over the edge would have been to couple low snowfall like that with substantial rain

Yes, that's what happened in the PNW in 2005. All the Washington State areas were closed for 2 months after the late January 4-day deluge. What was unusual there was not so much the rain but the ensuing 6 week drought.