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About J.Spin

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  • Location:
    Waterbury, VT
  • Interests
    Skiing, Snow, Snowboarding, Outdoors, Winter Weather, Photography

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  1. That’s a great shot to see at the end of April. I was in Lake Placid over the weekend, so I went for a ski at Whiteface for the first time in over 20 years, and I’ve got to tell you, when it comes to snowfall (and I guess even snowpack?) we are definitely lucky to be in the Northern Greens vs. just across the lake. I know we’ve had discussions before about the somewhat sparse reporting and potential underreporting of snowfall in the Adirondacks, and how the extra 100 to 200 inches of snow in the Northern Greens vs. other parts of the Northeast is mostly “fluff”, but based on what I saw over the weekend, the snow difference between the ‘dacks and here was much more dramatic than I would have expected. This season Whiteface had what their website reported as a record 281 inches of snowfall, but there’s no way they could have been open this weekend based on what I saw there: Of course manmade snow depths can’t really be compared between locations because they’re mostly a function of how much snow is blown, but you know they had to plan on certain depths, and some margin of extra depth, to offer skiing until their anticipated closing (they closed last weekend, so I’m guessing that was their plan). There’s nothing close to continuous snow cover on the lower half of the mountain – the best option I found was to piece together the remnants of one of the terrain parks. The amount of remaining manmade snow may speak a bit to retention issues, but the state of the natural snow was what really had me flummoxed. The peak of Whiteface is up near 5,000’, but even from afar one can get a sense for how little natural snow remains up there – certainly relative to the six feet at the Mt. Mansfield Stake below 4,000’. I get it that Whiteface is about an extra 50 miles or so away from coastal moisture and the associated coastal storms, but they should probably make up some of that with their better proximity to moisture from the Great Lakes. I was initially quite surprised when the Whiteface website mentioned that 281 inches of snowfall this season as a record, but when I checked Tony Crocker’s website and saw their annual average snowfall only coming in around 180 inches, it seemed to make a bit more sense. That average still amazes me though, as at that point you’re getting down near half of what some of the resorts in the Northern Greens are reporting. It’s a shame, because man what an impressive mountain Whiteface is with respect to pitch and vertical. Anyway, since I just had a chance to check out the snow at Whiteface first hand, and we’ve got plenty of recent Mansfield pictures from Powderfreak, I figured the folks in the forum would find the comparison interesting. I was certainly surprised at the difference in the available snow. In the comments on my report from the outing, one person did point out that the ski terrain at Whiteface is more southerly than northerly facing, although I’d still argue that the predominant aspect of the trails is east. In any event, even taking in some of the more northerly-facing views around Lake Placid, I still wasn’t blown away by the snowpack: The views all around the Lake Placid area are stunning of course, but with such high peaks after a pretty decent winter for snowfall, I was expecting to see more snow up there since it’s still only April. I’m sure others in the forum might be surprised as well. I’ve also got some additional images in my report of the trip for those that are interested in Whiteface and the Lake Placid area.
  2. Well that’s certainly exciting news. Those of us who frequent the resort know that simply updating the infrastructure would go a long way in terms of keeping the local visitors happy and continuing to attract folks that come from afar to experience Bolton Valley. Bringing back more warm weather visitation could also be a great financial benefit, and it sounds like that’s part of the plan. We’re obviously big fans of the resort – the fact that the second picture in that article is actually a shot of our family on BV’s slopes can attest to that.
  3. On your final question there, I certainly think it was a substantial component. Snow-depth days are one of the best objective ways to assess the effect of temperatures on the snowpack, and when the stats say SDD are only 60-70% of average and in the bottom 30% of seasons, that’s notable. It’s even more striking to think that such numbers were achieved in a solidly above average snowfall season. To get that weird combination tells you that there must have been some serious melting going on at times. Nice work assessing the more widespread snowfall numbers around here – I wouldn’t have necessarily guessed that so much of the area did so well. I also hadn’t though too much about how close this season was getting to 2007-2008 with respect to snowfall at our site. But, that gap is actually pretty notable when one looks at the stats – it means passing the +1 S.D. mark. With respect to snowfall and “seasonal grades”, 2007-2008, at +1.33 S.D., has to sit at a solid A, and I think 2010-2011 at +1.17 S.D. is probably an A-/A. But I’m still going B+/A- for this season (+0.90 S.D.) unless it breaks that +1 S.D. 190” barrier, at which point I’d be willing to lock in the A-. There’s no doubt that 2016-2017 now sits among the “top dogs” of the past decade with respect to snowfall; here’s how things stand in the hierarchy as of today: 1. 2007-2008: 203.2” (+1.33 S.D.) 2. 2010-2011: 197.0” (+1.17 S.D.) 3. 2016-2017: 186.5” (+0.90 S.D.) 4. 2008-2009: 179.4” (+0.72 S.D.) But, those certainly can’t all be “A” seasons with respect to snowfall. With only a decade worth of observations, there should really only be a couple of “A” years, not 3 or 4, unless the data are extremely skewed, bimodal or there’s something else going on. Anyway, I’d say this season’s snow total is a nod to the fact that we had to make up for last season’s -2.04 S.D. (as well as the four below average seasons prior to that) at some point. Let’s hope we’re moving past that lull and can head into another good stretch like we had last decade.
  4. Temperatures are an interesting thing, I don’t track them or factor them in to my winter evaluation, but I’m not sure how I would anyway. What increases the grade, warmer temperatures or colder temperatures? Colder temperatures mean I’m potentially freezing whenever I’m outside, it costs more to heat the house, dealing with anything on the car (or other outdoor equipment) is a massive headache, and life is generally just that much more difficult. Not to mention the times when we get those cold, dry, arctic air intrusions and it’s “too cold to snow” because the storm track has been pushed southward. None of that is stuff that’s going to raise the winter grade for me. Warmer temperatures can also be a headache because it can obviously be too warm to snow or maintain snowpack. But, being “relatively” warm and right in the storm track is a huge plus, not to mention getting to enjoy comfortable temperatures in the 25 to 30 F range every day, where it’s pleasant to be outside on the slopes yet the snowpack is staying wintry. As far as I’m concerned, all that really matters with respect to temperatures is… whatever gets the most snow to fall. Therefore, the snowpack and snowfall numbers take care of the temperature issue. The larger the snowfall and resulting snowpack numbers, the “better” the temperatures were, however cold or warm they might have been.
  5. My winter grade of B is actually just for my site, so the mountains aren’t factored in. If I factored the mountains in, the grade would go up to probably a B+. I initially felt I might be able to push it to an A-, but after looking at what I wrote below, I can’t see it. There’s no way, even with the mountains factored in, that this season could pull of a straight A in my opinion. Even forgetting the somewhat meager stretches in December and January, how can anyone overlook that massive month-long hole in the winter of 2016-2017 that spanned the second half of February and went right through the first half of March until we got hit with Winter Storm Stella. The mountain snowfall will be a bit higher than what I show below, but the snowfall numbers from my site tell that tale: Total snowfall for 2nd half of February: 0.4 inches Total snowfall for 1st half of March: 2.9 inches That’s almost no new snow… for an entire month… in the prime of NNE winter. It’s not that the snow entirely melted out on the slopes during that period, but there were plenty of thaws (and refreezes) and the snow surfaces and the quality of skiing really went to hell. We had ski program on Feb 26th at Stowe, and one of my featured images in my report from that day… is the kids and I playing cards at Spruce Camp. You know the conditions are bad when even the kids don’t want to be out. We then either cancelled, or should have cancelled, the following two weeks of ski program because of how bad the conditions were. We’re essentially talking about a month long period during the peak of ski season being filled with “meh” here, which in my option is easily a deal breaker with respect to any season getting a straight A. I think even A- is pushing it, and then throw in the additional bad periods in December and January and we’re easily down into the B range.
  6. As you can see from mreaves’ feelings, that snowpack aspect can be considered a huge chink in this season’s armor for some people. Snowfall is certainly king when it comes to my overall grade, but the snowpack did factor in. It took a season that would be verging on A territory with a B+/A- grade, and brought it down (really just 1/3 to 1/2 a peg in my case) to that straight B. I’d actually say I was pretty lenient with respect to the hit the grade took due to the snowpack deficiency – taking it down a full peg would put this season on the C+/B- border, and I could easily see people knocking it down harder the way mreaves did. We’re talking a D-level snowpack season here, in an area (i.e. anywhere from the spine eastward) where a continuous winter snowpack of reasonable depth is essentially a given.
  7. With plenty of snowfall and skiing over the past few weeks, I haven’t thought about this winter’s overall grade for a while, but it came to my mind now that our latest storm is complete and we’re into the final part of the winter season. I wouldn’t have guessed it about a month or so ago, but for the first time in quite a while, I believe we’re looking at something other than a grade of “C” or lower for our location. I discuss where things sit for some of the major components I consider for the winter grade below: Snowfall: We’re more than 95% of the way through the snowfall season here, and snowfall is guaranteed to come in above average. We’re still within 1 S.D. of mean annual snowfall at this point however (with the current statistics, 190”+ is required to surpass that bracket), so it’s not quite into rarified territory just yet. This last storm did push snowfall into the top 20% of seasons however, so we’re really verging on that B+/A- border. Looking at the individual months, the October through April period was above average on snowfall except for December (slightly below) and January (well below). Those are a couple of key snowfall months though, and their low numbers testify to some poor winter periods. Those poorer months are offset by good to great snowfall numbers in both February and March, so I’d say the season’s overall grade is a strong B+ for now in the snowfall category, and an A- can be reserved for passing the +1 S.D. mark. Snowpack: This will certainly take the season down a peg. Despite the good snowfall, SDD are at 848, only 60-70% of average, and the stats say that we’re in the bottom 30% of seasons for that parameter. The continuous winter snowpack did start on Dec 3rd, which is within the normal start window, and it’s still going, but it had that huge dip in the first half of March, when the mean snowpack numbers are still growing slightly or at least holding pat. The low SDD speaks to those poor winter periods in part of December, all of January, and that first half of March. It looks like a straight “D” is what the numbers call for with respect to snowpack this season. Storms: Through today we’ve had 55 accumulating winter storms on the season, which is above average, but still within 1 S.D. of the mean. The average snowfall per storm (3.4”) is much higher than it’s been at any point since our last above average snowfall season. I’m not sure if there’s any correlation there at all, but it’s been a nice switch. Getting 41.0” from Winter Storm Stella was certainly a highlight, but I don’t necessarily factor individual storms too much into the grade because this is definitely not a “one hit wonder” type of climate; it’s the consistency that makes the winters (and skiing) what they are in the Northern Greens. This season there were six storms of 6”+, which is actually below average, but up from the past couple of seasons, and on par with the previous few that have occurred since our last above average snowfall season. For storms of 10”+, and all higher categories up to 24”+, the numbers were at or slightly above average. I’ll go with a grade of B+, giving a bit of a nod to Winter Storm Stella, but I don’t think we’re quite looking at an A when you’ve got seasons like ‘07-‘08, ‘08-‘09, and ‘10-‘11 that are all up near a dozen storms of 6”+. So, taking the above factors into account, I’m going with a straight B at this point for the winter’s overall grade. It’s been a nice change of pace to actually see an above average season, even if it wasn’t anything especially outrageous. There’s not too much that can dramatically affect the grade in the second half of April and May, but I’ll reassess where things stand when we actually get to the end of the season.
  8. Below I’ve got the north to south listing of available snowfall totals for the Vermont ski areas from this most recent storm. It’s not quite one of those obvious north to south gradients with respect to accumulation, but the northern half of the state was definitely the focal point: Jay Peak: 10” Smuggler’s Notch: 10” Stowe: 13” Bolton Valley: 9” Mad River Glen: 8” Sugarbush: 14” Pico: 6.5” Killington: 6.5” Okemo: 2” Magic Mountain: 0” Stratton: 1” Mount Snow: 1” We spent the morning at Bolton Valley yesterday, and I’d say they were actually a bit conservative with the 9” value at the top of their accumulation range. More typically I was able to find about 11” as a general depth of the surface snow at most elevations. The powder from this storm was even drier than what we found from last weekend’s storm – most folks would be hard pressed to complain about the snow even in midwinter, because it was midwinter dry. It wasn’t Champlain Powder™ fluffy, but that was probably more a function of flake structure than any above-freezing temperatures. As I noted in my earlier post, it was well below freezing at all elevations the entire morning. As much as I mentioned all the underutilized powder we encounter last Saturday, this Saturday was even more extreme. For much of the morning you could literally ride the Timberline Quad, count the number of tracks on a trail, and then on the next lap you’d be able to see exactly how many (if any) additional riders had been down it. It was hard to pull ourselves away, but eventually we decided to call it a morning and head back to the main base. The big event of the day at the main base was the Rock The Hills Snowmobile Hill Climb, so there dozens and dozens of sleds on the mountain and the Village lots were filled with trucks and snowmobile trailers. I’ve added some images from yesterday below, and more are available in the full report.
  9. Event totals: 5.2” Snow/2.19” L.E. Snowfall was fairly intense at 6:00 A.M. observations time this morning, but it started to taper off after that, and it was pretty much done down here when we headed up to the mountain for turns. There was some snow falling up at Bolton Valley, but accumulations were pretty much done there as well. Temperatures had crept above freezing down here when we got back around noontime, but up at elevation it remained well below freezing. It was actually downright chilly, and folks were often getting cold when we’d pause for setting up a photo session. Details from the 12:00 P.M. Waterbury observations: New Snow: 0.6 inches New Liquid: 0.06 inches Snow/Water Ratio: 10.0 Snow Density: 10.0% H2O Temperature: 36.1 F Sky: Cloudy Snow at the stake: 5.0 inches I’ve got a couple of shots from today below, and I’ll try to add some ski shots when I get a chance.
  10. Event totals: 4.6” Snow/2.13” L.E. Snow is definitely pouring down out there – watching the rate of accumulation at my observations time it was >1”/hour, so I called it heavy snow. I would think that we could have gotten a Winter Weather Advisory for this with way the roads look, but the BTV NWS did put out a Special Weather Statement. SPECIAL WEATHER STATEMENT National Weather Service BURLINGTON VT 338 AM EDT Sat Apr 8 2017 NYZ029>031-034-VTZ003-004-006>008-016>019-081300- Southeastern St. Lawrence-Southern Franklin-Western Clinton- Western Essex-Orleans-Essex-Lamoille-Caledonia-Washington- Eastern Franklin-Eastern Chittenden-Eastern Addison- Eastern Rutland- Including the cities of Star Lake, Saranac Lake, Tupper Lake, Dannemora, Lake Placid, Newport, Island Pond, Johnson, Stowe, St. Johnsbury, Montpelier, Enosburg Falls, Richford, Underhill, Bristol, Ripton, East Wallingford, and Killington 338 AM EDT Sat Apr 8 2017 ...Areas of snow covered and slippery travel expected this morning across the higher terrain... Persistent upslope snow showers overnight has resulted in accumulating snowfall across the northern Adirondacks and western slopes of northern and central Vermont. Motorists traveling across the higher elevations and passes should be alert for snow covered and slippery travel through 9 AM this morning. Additional snowfall of 1 to 2 inches expected with localized amounts up to 3 inches possible. Details from the 6:00 A.M. Waterbury observations: New Snow: 3.4 inches New Liquid: 0.42 inches Snow/Water Ratio: 8.1 Snow Density: 12.4% H2O Temperature: 31.5 F Sky: Heavy Snow (2-12 mm flakes) Snow at the stake: 5.0 inches
  11. Event totals: 1.2” Snow/1.71” L.E. Down here at 500’ snow started mixing in with the rain by roughly 6:30 P.M. this evening, and it was fully over to snow by probably 8:00 P.M. or so. We’re still a bit above freezing, so it’s not accumulating too fast down here, but there’s certainly a lot of liquid equivalent falling out of the sky right now so the resorts should be doing quite well. This round of measured snow contains the liquid associated with the transition from rain, so as the data would suggest, the overall stack is still pretty dense. Details from the 12:00 A.M. Waterbury observations: New Snow: 1.2 inches New Liquid: 0.29 inches Snow/Water Ratio: 4.1 Snow Density: 24.2% H2O Temperature: 33.3 F Sky: Snow (2-10 mm flakes) Snow at the stake: 1.5 inches
  12. Nice, I just checked out back and it’s already starting to mix in down here at 500’ now – the temperature has been dropping pretty quickly over the past 30 minutes or so, 2 to 3 degrees F. The local high terrain is probably doing well if we’re already mixing in down here at the valley bottom. It certainly looks like it’s snowing nicely on the Bolton Valley Web Cam now. This type of event on top of deep snowpack is why March and April are so awesome, but the awesomeness can get pretty drowned out by the general disdain for these months on the forum.
  13. That’s awesome info eyewall, thanks! I wish they had a second camera like the one at the main base down at 1,500’ at the Timberline Base. Something around 1,000’ at their Bolton Valley Welcome Sign would be another good intermediate elevation, and then I’ve got my web cam at 500’ and it would make it really easy to follow the snow line down in this area. Anyway, I was just traveling the east side on Route 100, and looking back toward the spine, you could definitely see the snow falling. It looked like the snow line was still in the 1,500’ elevation range. We’ve dropped into the 30s F now here at 500’ at the house, and there were just starting to be some cat’s paws on the windshield when we were getting home.
  14. I just checked the Bolton Valley Web Cam and it’s already snowing down to 2,000’ there. Not sure how much lower the snow line has gone at this point, but the radar nicely shows that moisture turning into snow as it hits the spine:
  15. The latest thoughts on the upcoming snow potential from the BTV NWS forecast discussion are below. They’re currently going with less than an inch in the broad valleys, 1-3” from 500’ to 2,000’, 2-4” above 2,000’ and potentially more at the summits. The high elevation Mansfield point forecast is still in that general 4-8” range as it was yesterday. Area Forecast Discussion National Weather Service Burlington VT 448 AM EDT Fri Apr 7 2017 .NEAR TERM /THROUGH SATURDAY/... As of 448 AM EDT Friday...As colder air moves in, rain showers will change to snow showers, starting at high elevations of the Adirondacks and lowering throughout the evening. By midnight, expect most areas of northern NY and VT to see snow or snow mixing with rain. Even the broad valleys will see at least a mix of rain and snow by Saturday morning. Lows Friday night/Saturday morning generally near 32F. As the low continues to pull away Saturday, areal coverage of showers will diminish, focusing around the terrain and adjacent western slopes. Temperatures should warm up enough for all but summits to see precip change back to rain briefly before tapering off. Max temperatures will range from the mid 30s to mid 40s. Snowfall amounts of generally a dusting to a couple tenths of an inch in the broad valleys. Between 500-2000ft, expect 1-3 inches of snowfall. Above 2000ft, generally expect 2-4 inches with locally higher amounts at the summits.