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NNE Late Fall & Early Winter


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updated- 12-10-11












hubbdave- 5pmish

OldmanBob- 5pmish



Chris (nwct)


Typhoon Tip? 6pmish


All right ladies and gents, kickoff in T-2.5hrs!

looks like i've got a maybe from our God's Country kinfolk- Mrg, and Happy Valley...let's hope they show! smile.png

Dec 10th, 2pm until whenever...Worcester, Funky Murphys

Unfortunately, it’s shopping day today, LL Bean's, North Face and Ralph Lauren in Freeport.....

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Cold and snowy! I was riding the chair this morning with AMWX poster "adk" and we were both discussing how nice and wintery it finally feels out there.

Upslope machine put down a fresh inch in a couple hours between 4-6am, its now windy and 23F at 1,500ft with 13F at 4,000ft.

Now we are getting into our "nickle and dime" season with a half inch to an inch yesterday in squalls, another inch last night, and consistent flurries this morning.

American Weather seemed to be down this morning, so I wasn’t able to send along my observations, but I’ve pasted them in below:

Event totals: 0.4” Snow/0.03” L.E.

Light snow started up at some point overnight, and it may have been a bit warm at first because there was a then crusty layer on the bottom of the accumulation on the snowboard. The crust was pretty delicate though and was easy to get into the snow core. There’s light snow/flurries out there now, as we look to be just on the south end of that northern area of snow on the composite radar below – it looks like the Bolton through Mansfield stretch should be getting hit with that right now.


Some details from the 7:00 A.M. observations are below:

New Snow: 0.4 inches

New Liquid: 0.03 inches

Snow/Water Ratio: 13.3

Snow Density: 7.5% H2O

Temperature: 31.1 F

Sky: Light Snow/Flurries (1-2 mm flakes)

Snow at the stake: 1.0 inches

Here’s the north to south list of some of the Vermont ski area snow totals:

Jay Peak: 2”

Smuggler’s Notch: 1”

Stowe: 1”

Bolton Valley: 1”

Killington: 2”

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Coldest morning of the season here. Got down to 10F on the nose. Kept thinking it might dip below that for our first single digit reading but it seems to be on the way up now--10.4F at last look.

Either way, it's a chilly morning out there with 2-3" on the ground and still with some snow on the tree limbs/boughs.

Speaking of boughs--I went out in the woods yesterday and stalked the wild Christmas tree. With copious balsam firs around here, it's not hard to find a good one, which I did. Always much more festive doing this when there's some snow on the ground. santa.gif

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Clouds kept the temp from dropping overnight - 18 at 9 last night, 18 at 7 this morning. Might have gotten lower in between.

This is now the longest I've gotten into Dec without any measurable snow for the month, as we had 0.4" on 12/11/1999 (and only 0.9" more all month.) Not really comparable, though, as I've had over 15" Oct-Nov. Gfs looks like no snow here to almost Christmas. Hope that changes, though with our forest certification fieldwork taking most of this week, I'm not unhappy with the calm stretch.

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lol Pf. skiing the gerbil wheel making you punchy?

like the last pic

pretty grim/good at burke today. grim that they will need a christmas miracle to get open by next sat, good that we can still get some laughs and be excited to ski 5" of snow dust on 2-3 inches of the finest cut grass, powder day with "texture"

great sunset, fun to see it so far S down the range

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lol Pf. skiing the gerbil wheel making you punchy?

like the last pic

pretty grim/good at burke today. grim that they will need a christmas miracle to get open by next sat, good that we can still get some laughs and be excited to ski 5" of snow dust on 2-3 inches of the finest cut grass, powder day with "texture"

great sunset, fun to see it so far S down the range

I cannot wait for there to be real snow in the mountains... once the natural snow terrain and backcountry becomes game, then its open season haha. For now, doing a couple hours of laps a day on the McSnow will have to do. I don't know why I expect other stuff to be skiable so early, its only December 10th...but I've been skiing the same stuff for 2.5 weeks straight now. Fun but gets old, not sure I should be complaining though.

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Since we had that touch of new snow yesterday, I popped up to Bolton for some opening day turns. In terms of natural snow, at the base of the Bolton Valley Access Road (340’) the snowpack was pretty much like it is at our house, depth is about an inch, with snow melted out on south-facing slopes, At around 1,000’ the snowpack became consistent on all aspects, and then up above 2,000’ in the Village there was a general 2-3” inches of snow everywhere. Temperatures were in the mid 20s F, and there was on and off light snow falling for the first part of the morning. I added a couple of shots from yesterday below, and at our website we’ve got the full report.



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I don't know why I expect other stuff to be skiable so early, its only December 10th...but I've been skiing the same stuff for 2.5 weeks straight now.

Actually, your internal ski season clock is just about on track in terms of being able to ski other stuff at this point - based on the detailed summaries in my trip report archives, yesterday was the average start date for off piste/tree skiing in Northern/North-Central Vermont. Incorporating 11 years worth of data from the 90s (6 years) and 00s (5 years), the mean start date I calculate for the start of tree/natural snow skiing in this area is December 10th ± 13 days, with an average of 28.1 ± 6.5 inches of snowpack at the Mt. Mansfield Stake at that point. Now obviously this date doesn’t obey the semi-official “40-inch rule”, but I actually consider that a very conservative rule, representing a point where most off piste areas around here are reasonably skiable. If you think about it, 40 inches is around 3.5 feet of snowpack, and while the snowpack will typically be less than that in the lower elevations, unless the lower elevations have been absolutely hammered by warmth for some reason, when the stake hits 40 inches, off piste at most mountain elevations is humming right along. The start dates used for my calculations are what I’d consider middle of the road in terms of conservative – not something for which one would even need rock skis unless they are trying to hit the steeper stuff. To get a sense for the conditions on my chosen start dates from each season, I’ve got all the quotes and links to each report in the First Tracks post where I initially made the calculation in January of last year. I refined the initial data with last year’s tree skiing start date for me (December 18th) when I posted my summary of the 2010-2011 ski season.

So anyway, initial forays into the off piste should have already taken place by this point in about half the seasons around here, and that’s off piste terrain that should be open for the duration of the season based on coverage. But, that’s not to say it’s too strange that we’re not skiing off piste yet, we’re just in the bottom half of seasons now. And, assuming my data are representative of reality and conform to a normal distribution, we’ve still got a couple weeks to go before we even hit the +1 S.D. mark (December 23rd). I bet visitors might be surprised to know that if they take a ski trip to Northern Vermont over the holidays, they should actually expect to be able to ski off piste on natural snow in some capacity if they are an appropriately accomplished skier; they should anticipate it about 84.2% of the time by December 23rd based on my data. That’s not to say that it will turn out that way this season, since nothing is guaranteed and 15.8% of the time it’s going to happen later, but those odds are pretty darned good in my book, and much higher than I would have initially thought.

Actually, what’s really cool is if you run the numbers out to near the end of the holiday period at January 1st (22 days or 1.69 S.D. past the mean date), you find that there’s a 95.5% chance of off piste options being available by that point. That’s really impressive to me – in only about 1 out of 20 seasons will the off piste/natural snow skiing not have started around here by January 1st. Nothing speaks to this statistic better than the 2006-2007 winter season, which from what I understand was one of the more horrid starts in recent memory. As slowly as this season appears to be starting in terms of natural snowfall, 2006-2007 was even slower up to this point… much slower. We’d seen a mere 10.3 inches of snow at the house as of this date in December 2006 vs. the 15.8 inches we’ve had so far this season. In fact, the start to the 2006-2007 snowfall season was so meager, we did not even pass the 15-inch mark for total snowfall at the house until the very end of December when we got a storm on December 30th-31st that brought 6.9 inches of snow. I was blissfully clueless about just how slow a start it was at that point of course, because we’d just moved here and I had no idea of just how much snow this location typically gets. Anyway, I like 2006-2007 as an example because as slow and potentially aberrant a start as it was, natural snow skiing still got going before that 95%/1 in 20 date of January 1st. We were skiing natural terrain by our Bolton Valley outing on December 30th and it was pretty sweet:


Will this season be that 1 in 20 that goes past January 1st for the start of natural snow skiing? I hope not, and the odds are definitely against it, but it’s going to be fun to see what happens. If people think this information would be useful in the ski thread, I can also post it there.

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Brrr... it was cold last night and 1.25" surprise new! I could blow it off my car by breathing.

Nice! Welcome to the mountains where as 40/70 says, the clouds fart and you get an inch or two of dust. That snow sounds like classic orographic induced fluff, squeezing every bit of low level moisture out into high ratio snow. Its that stuff that pads the seasonal snowfall tally over time.

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So here's a good thermal profile this morning... you just never know what its going to do around here:

4,000ft... 23F

2,500ft... 21F

1,500ft... 33F (has gotten as high as 37F in the last two hours)

800ft... 18F (my house)

730ft... 17F (MVL)

The snowmakers are having a very difficult time here in the base area... it drops into the upper 20s, they fire some guns up, then a puff of wind comes through and it goes to 35-37F. Its incredibly dry air though, they were still making snow at 37F at 4am with a wet bulb of 28F. Our "official thermometer" is now at 33F but the one outside my office is showing 35.8F at 1,500ft. Hard to believe it could be 36F outside here while 800ft lower its 17F at MVL.

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Nice post, J.Spin... really great data about off-piste skiing. You are certainly right about the 40-inch rule... we are usually off-piste well before that at least on the upper 1,000 vertical feet of the mountain and lower angle stuff. Things like Bypass to Nosedive Glades become skiable with a roughly 24" stake depth. Again it depends on whether that is 24" of solid, dense, settled snow or 24" of upslope fluff... but the 40 inch rule to me is the time when "everything becomes game" and you can ski a bit more liberally. Before that point its pretty conservative woods skiing (ie no drops, keep speeds low, really pay attention for stuff under the snow)... but its still woods skiing. I don't even really care about how we are skiing it, I just want to be out there wandering around in the woods on skis; if I get to make some good turns thats just a bonus.

Everyone here at the ski resort is comparing this to 2006's start but we are ahead of that year at this point in terrain open. That year we opened for a few days in November then closed till almost December 10th.

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This is nuts... What is with these inversions so far this season?

4,000ft is still 22F

1,500ft is now 38F

730ft is 17F

Sugarbush appears to be having the same temps with mid/upper 30s in their base area and low 20s at the top. Should be interesting riding the chairlift this morning, close to 20F drop in a 6.5 minute lift ride.

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