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About J.Spin

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  • Four Letter Airport Code For Weather Obs (Such as KDCA)
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  • Location:
    Waterbury, VT
  • Interests
    Skiing, Snow, Snowboarding, Outdoors, Winter Weather, Photography

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  1. Agreed, and that’s a good point - when one is using months for their intervals, they’re roughly equivalent spans of time, but not exactly the same. It would take a bit of work to get all the dates for days with snowfall from every season into the appropriate format to plot the distribution and find the actual midpoint for that parameter. While it might be interesting to know the midpoint of the season based on days with snowfall, a more practical measurement that I do have is the midpoint of the season based on cumulative snowfall. That point isn’t the middle of January, and it’s not the last day of January either – it January 25th (plot below). I wouldn’t be surprised if that’s pretty close to the midpoint that would be obtained from looking at snowfall days as well. With that date being the midpoint of the snowfall season for our location, we really shouldn’t get a single month serving as a symmetrical peak for the days with snowfall plot, and we also shouldn’t see January and February sharing the peak equally – the plot with those eight months would probably have its peak skewed a bit toward January.
  2. Knowing the average number of days with snow at our site, I next looked at the monthly breakdown of days with snow. I actually had no idea how the data were going to distribute, but the appearance is certainly that of a unimodal distribution with a peak in January. It does look like there’s a bit of a skew of the peak to the left, but of course, we’re looking at a very coarse interval of months, and the eight months that happen to cover the snowfall season won’t necessarily correspond perfectly to Mother Nature’s actual snowfall season. We certainly have those years where it feels like January is relatively dry due to artic intrusions, so I could have easily seen some sort of bimodal distribution where January came in below December and February for days with snow, but that’s clearly not the case.
  3. That’s good info, since as I mentioned, I don’t really have a sense for what numbers are like at sites around the region. Total snowfall numbers are always flying around, but days with snow isn’t talked about as much. I did the count for 0.5”+ from last season for my previous post, but I haven’t calculated all those thresholds yet. That’s an analysis I can certainly put on my “to do” list when I have time. I have it set up to run via COUNTIF in Excel, and with the CoCoRaHS data, it’s quick. There are of course a million different ways to analyze snow data (many that you and others here in the forum have shown me that I never would have thought about). What I find especially interesting about looking at the different parameters is discovering aspects of seasons that would never have been obvious. Who would have thought that the much-maligned, average-at-best 2020-2021 snow season would come out tops in our data set for days with snow? - not me. Nevertheless, that’s the type of interesting info that the analyses reveal.
  4. The Northern Greens certainly seem to excel in the ability to put at least some flakes in the air throughout the winter. I haven’t really looked at that stat for other sites in the region or in the country, so I don’t know what’s typical, but 100+ days with snowfall certainly feels snowy. There are presumably sites in closer proximity to the lakes that get even more days with snow. I’d argue that many days with snow is a solid benefit when it comes to areas where winter tourism is important, since it at least improves the winter aesthetics for the visitors as you’ve noted. Thankfully, the flakes can be more than just window dressing and produce accumulations substantial enough to improve the surfaces on the slopes as well. If I check my data from last season for days with ≥½” of snow, which typically correlates with ≥1” of snow at the local resorts, that’s still 64 days. I should be able to do the monthly breakdown on days with snowfall, so we can look at that as well and see how last season stacked up. With 117 days of snow, it’s already up there at the top of the charts for the data set here, and I seem to recall we had a month this past season with just a couple of days where it didn’t snow.
  5. That’s actually great timing on the inquiry LaGrange, days with snow was the next category I was planning to cover. Phin’s recollection is correct, based on the data I’ve collected so far, the average days with snowfall per season at our site is around 100. I didn’t track days with snowfall before joining CoCoRaHS, so I only have data from 2010 onward, but the plot is below. This past season didn’t have much to lay claim to since it was kind of lackluster in general snow stats, but days with snowfall was a category in which it edges out all the other seasons in the data set. Therefore, at least in our area, we had plenty of days with snow this past season, even if it was only average in terms of total snowfall.
  6. Thinking about ways to get at which winter seasons had a tendency to deliver “larger snowstorms” vs. those that didn’t, I’ve made a couple of additional comparisons. Presenting the single largest storm as done in my initial plot above is certainly useful, but the single largest storm could easily be an outlier and not quite portray the tenor the season. Bringing a few more large storms from each season into the picture would temper the effect of those “one hit wonder” types of seasons. There are still plenty of options to consider with respect to how many storms to select, and whether to use mean and or median values from those storms, but here are two plots I made for now: 1) A clustered column plot that simply contains the snowfall for the five largest snowstorms from each season 2) A column plot that presents the sum of the snowfall from the five largest snowstorms from each season The first plot below is nice in that it lets one view the totals for the five largest storms of the season. It’s helpful for quickly identifying instances such as you mentioned above, where seasons had >1 storm of 20”+. I don’t think it works all that well for quickly getting at whether or not a season was one that tended to deliver large storms though. There’s enough data there in each set that they all just look like stair steps of data points unless you dive in and examine them closely. I think the second plot may do a better job of quickly highlighting those “big storm” seasons. Since each point is the sum of the top five storms, a season that consistently brings larger events is likely going to poke its head above the rest of the crowd. The 2016-2017 season is of course bolstered by the big 41” storm, but it’s still up there even when tempered by incorporating the next four storms. In this analysis, 2010-2011 and 2006-2007 also seem to pop up as potential “big storm” seasons. I like that 2006-2007 popped up on that plot, because it did have that “consistent, big storm feel” once it got going with what seemed like a notable storm on each holiday in the spring. Note that one could also plot the averages for the top five storms for each of these seasons and produce the same relative plot, but I think providing the number for total snow from the five storms gives a more immediate sense for the contribution that those top storms made to the season’s snowfall. While my initial plot of largest storm of the season certainly suggested that this past season was relatively weak with respect to large snowstorms, I think the plot summing the top five storms from each season solidifies that feel. This past season again came in as the second lowest in the data set next to the horrendous 2015-2016, suggesting that it was quite weak in the “big storm” department.
  7. Don’t let anything get in the way if you have a chance to live out there – we certainly wouldn’t trade our time living in the Rockies; it was simply fantastic. My comments are of course just noting preferences from a weather/climate perspective, and while people certainly factor that into where they decide to live, it’s typically way down the list relative to factors that actually matter when it comes to making a living. Based on my years of roaming around and checking out much of Western Montana, I think my preference leans toward the northwestern part of the state if it was solely based on climate. Where we lived in the Bitterroot Valley is farther south, and when we’d visit equivalent valley areas in the northwestern part of the state, there always seemed to bit more moisture, more clouds, cooler temperatures, more snow, etc. Those areas are on the windward side of the Glacier National Park area along the continental divide, and like here in NVT, they’re not far from the Canadian border. I’m sure the bit of extra latitude helps too. I didn’t know it before we lived out there, but the Canada-U.S. border out in that part of the country is substantially farther north than it is out here. While the border here in Vermont is at the 45th parallel, the border out in Montana is notably farther north at the 49th parallel. From our numerous visits, I always had the perception that those valleys in the northwest part of the state had more clouds, precipitation, snow, etc., and if I look up the actual numbers, they support that. You can see the climate difference between where we lived in Hamilton and farther to the northwest in Whitefish: Hamilton, MT Elevation: 3,570’ Annual Precipitation: 13.1” Annual Snowfall: 32.1” Days with Precipitation: 106.4 Whitefish, MT Elevation: 3,028’ Annual Precipitation: 18.4” Annual Snowfall: 72.7” Days with Precipitation: 119.7 Of course, even the higher Whitefish values for precipitation and snowfall are quite paltry compared to the ~55” of precipitation and ~160” of snowfall we get out here; the precipitation isn’t even in the same ballpark, and the snowfall is only on par with BTV, which is generally chided for how snowless it is for this area. However, from a comparative perspective, the numbers do speak to my causal observations, and the differences are quite notable. In Whitefish you’re looking at a ~40% increase in precipitation, and a ~125% increase in snowfall. In addition, that’s with Whitefish being at ~500’ lower elevation. It’s funny, because in the grand scheme of Montana geography, even Hamilton is typically considered part of “Northwest Montana” because of the shape of the state, how big the state is, and the way the mountain ranges build natural climate areas (see maps below). The northwestern region is generally considered the wettest part of the state, but the greater northwestern or “Glacier Country” area extends well to south, and of course, there are many microclimates. The Bitterroot Valley is in the rain shadow of the 10,000’+ Bitterroot Range, which presumably cuts down on the precipitation and snow there relative to some of the other parts of the region. If you keep with the ski industry, I’m sure you’d be in a mountainous locale wherever you end up, but just watch out for the potential lack of “weather” and hot temperatures in the lower mountain valleys if that’s of interest. It’s probably great for the average person who would just as soon have little to no rain or snow where they live, but it’s very benign relative to what we’re used to around here.
  8. I’m not sure if you’re actually allowed to say that last part aloud, because the subforum sunshine police will probably lump you in with the standard list of summer pariahs they pull out any time the forecast suggests it might get a bit cool and showery. Unless you really want/need a consistent San Diego-style climate for your work, exercise, recreation, or daily activities, the summer climate in NNE, especially the mountainous areas of NNE, is pretty sweet. We don’t have to deal with the constant heat and humidity of the Midwest or Southeast, or even what they seem to experience in parts of SNE. We still typically get a hot stretch or two each summer, sometimes more, sometimes less, that will warm up the swimming holes and make for great river tubing etc. As much as it can be a nuisance having to deal with a few sticky nights, it’s a nice change of pace and lets you comfortably get out on the water for some high summer activities. Even in July though, our temperature averages around here are lows in the 50s F and highs in the 70s F. Right from those numbers you can get a sense of what the typical, climatological dew points are up here in the summer, even if some warm season agendas in the subforum leave people trying to convince themselves that summer in New England somehow means dew points of 70 F. I certainly love it when our local trails are dry and the riding is great. Like PF, I enjoy that Rockies-style climate with the lower humidity, warm sunny days, cool nights, and generally dry conditions for recreation. However, having lived in the Rockies for several years, I can say that for me, the constant dry, sunny, cloudless days throughout the summer can get quite monotonous. The generally drier air is great in that it would cool down into the 40s and 50s F each night for consistently great sleeping, but that same dry air and lack of clouds meant that it would easily heat up into the 90s F every day. You certainly do get that big diurnal temperature range that PF loves. I just found that the constant sunny, dry, and hot weather, day after day after day all summer took its toll. Rain was infrequent enough that it was notable when it rained during the summer. I can distinctly remember the relief of actually having a night of getting to listen to the sound of the rain falling and thinking, “Wow, that is really cool, I wish that would happen more than once in a blue moon.” Now this was in Montana mind you, so it was nothing in the realm of what spots farther south like Salt Lake City or Arizona deal with, but the summers can still feel unnecessarily hot when it’s day after day of cloudless skies. If I was to live in the Rockies again, I think I’d pick a spot with more elevation that would provide more opportunities for orographic clouds, precipitation, and lower daytime temperatures. Here in Waterbury, we get four times the annual precipitation, and five times the annual snowfall compared to where we lived in Montana. There’s just so much additional potential for weather variety that comes with those numbers. I can remember a specific day soon after we’d moved back to Vermont where I really noticed a dramatic climate difference. We were out on the Stowe Recreation Path with the boys, and it was a typical summer day where perhaps a third of the sky happened to be covered with fair weather cumulus clouds. Every so often, a cloud would pass in front of the sun and bring on some shade. I’d rather forgotten that one could even have midsummer days like that with cool, refreshing interludes, and it was spectacular. I love the variety of weather we get here in the mountains of NNE; it’s likely akin to the typical mix of weather that a lot of the Eastern U.S. gets, but biased on the cooler (and in winter, snowier) side due to our latitude and orographics. I wouldn’t want every summer day to be socked in with clouds, fog, and rain, but I definitely enjoy those days as part of the mix. Yesterday after work, I was going to go for a ride, but it was a bit misty and gray, and it seemed like the trails might be a bit wet. So, I decided to go for a trail run instead, and the cool conditions were perfect for that. In my years up here, I’ve learned that it’s best to have many potential activities in your bag of tricks so that you can easily roll with whatever Mother Nature decides her mood of the day is going to be. Obviously, some activities have to be planned/scheduled and you have to hope for a certain type of weather, but it pays to have some alternatives available. If one really needs consistency, I guess there’s always San Diego.
  9. I think on average, folks wouldn’t call this past winter season in CNE/NNE one that was notable for larger storms, and in the case of our site, the data for largest storm of the season speak to that. I don’t think the downward trend of the past few seasons it’s too much more than normal variance in our neck of the woods though, simply because I wouldn’t have thought twice about even the 17.0” top storm from 2019-2020 – that seems very typical off of a 21.4” average. The S.D. on that mean is 7.5”, so the 17.0” is well within that. That record you note from your past three seasons does seem rather anomalous though. Using just the single largest storm could be a bit misleading for some seasons due to the potential for those “fluke” types of storms that hit every so often. For example, some areas in central/southern NH and VT were hit with that intense banding storm this past season, so some of those sites may have a big 30-50” total for that largest storm, even though it may not reflect the tenor of the season. I can’t recall, did those areas have any other notable storms this past season, or was that a “one-off” sort of thing? For the 2016-2017 season when we had that notable 41.0” storm (Winter Storm Stella), we did at least have three other double-digit storms, topping out at 18.2”, so it wasn’t an entirely anomalous event among a sea of nothing. A better approach to get the feel for the occurrence of larger storms in a season and reduce the effects of anomalies might be to take the top five, or maybe top three storms, and then take the mean of that group (or maybe median would be even better to remove anomalies).
  10. Continuing with the storm-related analysis, the next plot lets us look at the largest snowstorm for each season in the data set. The 2020-2021 season really wasn’t one for large storms in our immediate area, and that’s definitely borne out in this plot. This past season’s largest storm was just over a foot, it was well below the average, and second lowest in the entire data set. The trend since that 41-inch storm in 2016-2017 has shown quite the consistent decline in storm size, so we’ll see if this past season marks the nadir of that decrease.
  11. I think there may be recency, availability, and repetition bias in some of these perspectives though. When it comes to this forum, whatever happens in the populated areas of SNE is heavily announced, discussed, echoed, rehashed, and dissected to the nth degree. That’s 95%+ of the discussion, so it largely sets the appearance of what people in the subforum think is happening. As the actual data show, there’s little doubt that large areas of SNE get more annual precipitation than the typical valleys in NNE on average, but when it comes to the mountains in NNE (such as Phin’s NH place), there’s just more overall liquid up north. On the map, there’s really nowhere in SNE that has annual precipitation beyond that light green 49-55” range; the next tiers of darker green are all up in the mountains of CNE and NNE. Phin wasn’t around when his NH site saw over 70” of precipitation a few years back, but you can bet that there weren’t 10 pages of discussion about it in the forum. This has been a drier than average year up here in NNE, so it’s definitely not the norm. The numbers don’t lie: Mt. Mansfield averages ~80” of liquid a year, and Mt. Washington averages ~100” of liquid a year. Sure, those numbers fall off somewhat as you head down in elevation, but the larger, orographically influenced annual precipitation totals still extend a good distance out from the summits as the map shows. The higher annual precipitation numbers up here in the mountains must come from somewhere, and it has to be from some combination of more rain events, and/or larger rain events. As for the “socked-in clouds and drizzle for days”, it’s tough to say exactly where Phin’s NH place falls. It’s becoming clear that the climate there is somewhat different than what PF and I experience here along the spine of the Northern Greens (it actually seems that Alex’s area might be more similar to what we experience), but this past year being drier than normal is not going to be a solid representative sample. I can tell you that typically at our site, I’m looking for windows in the precipitation regime to be able to mow the lawn, but I haven’t had to worry about it as much from last summer into this early summer thus far. Even in this relatively “dry” winter we just went through, we still had new snow recorded on 29 out of 31 days in January, and 23 out of 28 days in February. There are a few days per winter where we might get diamond dust from clear skies, but the vast majority of that snow comes from clouds. That’s many cloudy days. I’d say our route to higher annual precipitation totals along the spine of the Northern Greens tips toward more episodes of precipitation vs. larger episodes, but the distribution could be a bit different at Phin’s NH site. Whatever the case, something is pushing the annual precipitation there into that 55”+ range, and the data say that’s what happens when it all shakes out, even if it doesn’t feel like it.
  12. At least in terms of average numbers at our site, snowfall occurrence with respect to size really drops off below the “once a season” level when the 20” threshold is reached. The list of snowfall sizes that I track in my data set are shown below, where the average number of occurrences per season is plotted. I have snowfalls up to the 48” threshold counted, although as the data indicate, I haven’t yet recorded a 48” snowfall at our site. Snowfalls above the 30” threshold seem to be relatively infrequent at our site in the valley, but the numbers change notably by simply going up in elevation in the Northern Greens. Based on my years of observation, a good way to obtain a rough estimate for snowfall occurrence in the higher elevations of the Northern Greens can be obtained by just doubling the snowfall sizes shown in my data set. Therefore, if our site averages one 18”+ snowfall a season as shown in the plot, then the higher elevations of the Northern Greens should average approximately one 36”+ snowfall a season.
  13. As the snowfall size increases, eventually it becomes impractical to monitor first occurrence dates because they’re just too infrequent, so the 12” threshold is as high as I go in my data. Mean and median occurrence for first 12” snowfall in the data set here are right around the end of December/beginning of January, so this past season was certainly on the slow side for first 12” snowfall, but still ahead of a number of seasons where it didn’t occur until February.
  14. As we move on to the 10” snowfall data, I referenced Tamarack’s earlier post, since he’d included 10” snowfall data there. Mean and median dates for first 10” snowfall in our data set are Dec 17th, and Dec 13th, respectively. Last season was near the back of the pack, which is consistent with the way larger storms were simply hard to come by around here during the 2020-2021 season. One thing that is quickly obvious in the lower right of the plot is that both of the past couple of seasons have been slow to reach that 10” snowfall threshold.
  15. As we move on to looking at the data for first 8” snowfall of the season, we shift from November into December, with the mean and median dates of December 13th and 6th, respectively. The visual of the plot speaks to that difference between the median and mean nicely, with an obvious skew of the distribution of dates toward the end of November/beginning of December, but a few outliers later in the season. Getting into these larger snowfalls is where the 2020-2021 season moved from being at the very front of the pack due to the early November storms we had, to nearly the tail end of the pack. Indeed, it took until January 17th to get an 8” snowfall this past season, which is more than a month later than average. With the relatively weak December that we experienced, it’s not too surprising that the first 8” snowfall was delayed until things started to pick back up in mid-January.
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