Jump to content
  • Member Statistics

    15,394
    Total Members
    7,904
    Most Online
    NW_of_GYX
    Newest Member
    NW_of_GYX
    Joined

Archived

This topic is now archived and is closed to further replies.

powderfreak

Photos of the passing of a convective snow squall

Recommended Posts

This was the scene at 3,700ft this afternoon as we were in and out of the snow showers and sun every 20 minutes.

The coolest thing was watching the convective like clouds build and billow off the summits all afternoon. And when they moved in, it would precipitation hard for about 10 minutes and then just like that, the sun would come back out. I figured some folks on here would enjoy the evolution of it all in photos.

Here's the snow shower/squall off to the NNW when we first noticed it. The little bubble of a cloud that looks like its over the summit (really a bit upstream) was exploding upward as it encountered the mountain.

IMG_4669_edited-1.jpg

Awesome scene and I wish I could've captured it on video or a time lapse loop, but this cloud was visibly growing and puffing upward by the minute after this photo was taken.

IMG_4674_edited-1.jpg

Then it started snowing 2 miles away on the other side of the mountain.

IMG_4690_edited-2.jpg

VIrga streaks... getting closer to the heavy snow.

IMG_4699_edited-1.jpg

As it started snowing lightly at my location, it was obvious there was an area of much heavier snow in the core that was like a white sheet advancing through the air.

IMG_4701_edited-2.jpg

After that, the white curtain was dragged over and it snowed hard. Massive flakes that were almost like chunks of snow falling out of the sky. Get two of these flakes on your goggles and they completely obscure your view, haha.

IMG_4635_edited-2.jpg

IMG_4632_edited-2.jpg

Look at the size of these flake clumps that were coming out of the sky.

IMG_4644_edited-1.jpg

Then just as quickly as it moves in... its gone and the sun comes back out.

IMG_4604_edited-1.jpg

IMG_4678_edited-2.jpg

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thanks guys... I like to share the photos as not many have the chance and/or ability to spend this much time in the high elevations. Might as well share the cool weather scenes.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Awesome stuff. I love seeing the green down below and you hiking around it what still looks like a good 18" or so of snow cover.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Wow that's cool. The one thing I never realized is how accessible the top of the summit is there. Most 3-4K peaks cannot be reached by road.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Wow that's cool. The one thing I never realized is how accessible the top of the summit is there. Most 3-4K peaks cannot be reached by road.

Yeah... Mansfield had a summit hotel for the rich and famous back in the 1800s and they would come up by horse and carriage. Now the Toll Road is the only beginner trail off the summit in the winter, and it is a big summer attraction once it opens up (similar to the Mount Washington Auto Road). There are also all the TV/radio/cell towers up there on the south side of the ridgeline that the Toll Road accesses... there's a maintenance building that houses the WCAX tower engineers who are on the summit 24/7. The Mansfield co-op bucket is located at the maintenance building up the road from where those photos were taken...but the snow depth stake is very close to that location on the side of the road.

The road is regularly groomed in the winter by the resort for everyone from NOAA to WCAX to the Green Mountain Club who needs to access the summit often. This time of year they try to plow all the snow off it so it'll melt down to the gravel, then dry out. Its cool because when it opens in the summer there's usually at least patchy snow cover around there in June. It gets packed on the weekends with sight-seers though.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
This was the scene at 3,700ft this afternoon as we were in and out of the snow showers and sun every 20 minutes.

The coolest thing was watching the convective like clouds build and billow off the summits all afternoon. And when they moved in, it would precipitation hard for about 10 minutes and then just like that, the sun would come back out. I figured some folks on here would enjoy the evolution of it all in photos.

I laughed to myself when I saw your thread PF; reading your narrative was like reliving our experience today. I headed up to Jay Peak with the boys for some turns, and the weather was just like you described. We’d have beautiful cumulus clouds and blue sky at times, and you could look all around and see snow falling on various peaks. Not surprisingly, the snow would sometimes move in on Jay Peak, or just sort of spontaneously form there as the air was forced around by the high terrain. We’d have rounds of regular snow, graupel, and even these pyramidal (or miniature Hershey’s kisses as my younger son described them) shaped entities falling from the sky. At one point we saw heavy precipitation in the peaks just off to our north like Jay Peak West, Middle Jay and North Jay Peak, and a few minutes later it moved in on us. We got hit with some really heavy snowfall with huge flakes, just like you described. It was falling so hard at one stage that it accumulated on our goggles to the point that we could barely see and had to keep wiping them off continuously; I’d say we picked up about a half inch of snow in just 10-15 minutes in that episode. Some related pictures:

12APR12C.jpg

12APR12B.jpg

12APR12A.jpg

12APR12D.jpg

I’ll try to make a post in the ski thread when I can get everything together, but there was some fantastic skiing out there by the way. Doing some depth checks on Upper Can Am, I was getting a consistent 16” depth for the new snow, even after whatever settling has gone on over the past couple of days (this stuff is so dense though that I don’t think the settling has been all that significant). Due to such high density, the snow was actually better as chowder that skiers had worked vs. totally untracked powder. Just like I experienced on Mansfield on Tuesday though, this storm gave the mountain a thorough resurfacing in the upper elevations – anything with even just a bit of base got such a boost of liquid equivalent above it (I think the Mt. Mansfield co-op is probably approaching 4 inches of liquid now for this event?), that you can just go to town on even the steepest terrain without hitting anything below. The best part of the skiing may have been the mid and upper elevation groomed terrain though. On the upper two thirds of the mountain, temperatures were cool enough that the groomers skied like dense packed powder or wet pack, and you know they got that same foot and a half of dense snow resurfacing them as well prior to the new grooming. The only issue was that on the bottom 1/3 of the mountain, temperatures were warm enough to make the snow sticky and slow. I guess they re-opened a bunch of new terrain due to this snow, and they could really open a lot more if they wanted, it seemed as if some things that weren’t open were simply due to challenging snow conditions in the off piste areas. Also, they aren’t even running the tram, although I think one can hike up to that terrain if they want because I heard some folks talking about it. Are we getting any more of these storms during this “cutoff season”? - this one has made a huge contribution to the mountain snowpack. It’s so strange to think that even with this boost though, the snowpack is still well below average for this time of year – looking at the SkiVT-L graph for the Mt. Mansfield Stake, it seems that the snowpack depth is around 70% of average now. It’s been such an impressive recovery though to get back to even that level.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

So that's what snow looks like.

Great shots. Guess us coastal dwellers have "only" have another 7 months to go. It's always 10 days or in this case next year!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
JSPIN do you work?

Hehe, yes of course, I work at UVM. But the boys have been off from school for spring break the past few days, and with mom away at a conference, I had to watch them. I’d planned a few months ago to generally be in and out of the office these days, it was just fortuitous timing that the snow came in this week to offer some good sessions on the slopes. Actually, visiting Mansfield on Tuesday was different, we just happened to have a house appraisal taking place at 10:30 in the morning, and I wasn’t planning to head into work before that anyway – I figured I might as well hit the mountain and ski for a few hours when two feet of snow had just fallen. That’s life in Northern Vermont if you’re into it; it’s very easy to strike a good work/life balance if you enjoy the outdoors. In my experience, the Northern Greens generally get storms frequently enough that fresh snow is very likely to coincide with random non-work days between November and March, but even October and April, and occasionally May as well. Powderfreak and I have discussed it before in one of the threads, but it’s not uncommon, even down here in the valley, to have some amount of accumulating snow fall on 100 days out of the winter (I don’t know what it is yet for this season, but in ‘10-‘11 it was 99 days here at the house), so you can image what that number is for the mountains. If you’re in the know about the incoming snow/storms (hence my keen interest in winter weather) you can ski a lot of powder. One can literally restrict themselves to skiing only days with fresh snow, and still have a ridiculous amount of days on the hill. The Northern Greens are very different from places like the Sierra; the Sierra get a lot of snow, but a good portion of it might come in just a few massive storms during the season, with plenty of sun in between. We get some good multi-foot dumps here, but also long stretches where day after day a few inches of snow falls, which makes for fantastic skiing if you know your local mountain well. It’s not a great setup if you always want to be skiing in the sun like in California, but if you like fresh snow it’s the cat’s meow. Most folks here have seen Powderfreak’s daily reports from the mountain, so they know what it’s like.

The thing is, around here one doesn’t necessarily need to have a Powderfreak-style schedule to ski a ton of great, snowy days. If you’ve even got a modicum of flexibility in your work schedule, it’s easy to take a couple of hours in the morning, pop into the resort to ski the fresh powder, and then head to work. Even the folks that don’t have any flexibility in their schedules make it work though; they just start up at dawn (or before), get first tracks, and then head out and get about their day. Non skiers probably wouldn’t think it a big deal, but to me it beats the heck out of going to the gym or going for a run. You can do those sort of ski mornings when the mountains are so close. It’s funny, I did have to bring the boys in to work to give a lecture this morning, and now that the clouds have cleared, the impressive views from Burlington of the snow in the Greens had me thinking about Burlington’s location. I can’t think of another city in New England, or even Northern New York that has the population of Burlington and is this far north, and there’s certainly nothing I can think of in Burlington’s size range in this region that is so close to such snowy peaks. I’m sure someone can correct me on that if there’s another city out there, but I think if you’re anywhere in the Northeast, Burlington might the largest urban area so close to peaks with alpine terrain. Burlington does make a lot of those “most livable city” lists, in part I think because there’s the lake and the mountains, and all the recreation that goes with it. The views this time of year are really cool too, as the valleys start to green up and the mountains are still white. Even in Burlington there isn’t really anything to speak of in terms of leaves yet, so the green isn’t really out there, but I got a shot of Mt. Mansfield from Williston today because it was finally clear:

13APR12A.jpg

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Just think, all gone on Monday...

j/k. But it will be seriously dented. This may be it, by the way. Hard to say for sure, but the recess after the warm up doesn't return the region to this sort of set up by any stretch, then you're in May.

Ps, awesome photos guys!!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Just think, all gone on Monday...

j/k. But it will be seriously dented. This may be it, by the way. Hard to say for sure, but the recess after the warm up doesn't return the region to this sort of set up by any stretch, then you're in May.

Ps, awesome photos guys!!

This isn't going anywhere for a little while. Beautiful warm day in the mountains.

Snowpack is rather healthy all the sudden above 2,000ft-2,500ft.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

This isn't going anywhere for a little while. Beautiful warm day in the mountains.

Snowpack is rather healthy all the sudden above 2,000ft-2,500ft.

It always amuses me that the urbanites feel that the snow will just disappear in a heartbeat. I guess they are used to seeing their snow burn off the next day. Looks like an awesome day was had by all there PF. I'm so looking forward to getting back on the snow later this week.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
This isn't going anywhere for a little while. Beautiful warm day in the mountains.

Snowpack is rather healthy all the sudden above 2,000ft-2,500ft.

Yeah, it’s difficult to have a sense for how much snow is up there; I couldn’t get a feel for it yesterday, even with Bolton just a few miles away. From the house, you can’t see snow in any of our local 2,000’ peaks across the Winooski Valley, so that makes it especially hard to gauge. Also, the fact that it was in the 60s F and sunny yesterday down here makes it hard for one to think snow.

Because I was curious though, and hadn’t visited Bolton since the recent storm, I headed up yesterday afternoon for a ski tour to get in a workout. Honestly, most of the way up the Bolton Valley Access Road, you wouldn’t even know there was snow anywhere. The first snow I saw was at 1,500’ at the base of Timberline, but that was just leftover manmade that had been stockpiled in that area. The first natural snow along the road was visible at around 1,800’, just patchy of course, but right around 2,000’ in the Village the coverage started to become continuous. Just jumping up in elevation minimally to back behind the base lodge at ~2,100’, the depth of the snow was 2-4”. Below is the vertical profile of snow depth that I found for the snow from the recent storm – there’s base snow below that in many places, but I can’t easily measure that depth since it’s very consolidated:

1,800’: T

2,000’: 1”

2,100’: 2-4”

2,500’: 8-10”

2,800’: 16”

3,100’: 16-18”

Like we’ve seen at Stowe, there is an elevation at which it was apparently cold enough for all snow, and the depth doesn’t increase much above that, it seemed to be around 2,800’ from what I saw at Bolton yesterday.

Tip was just kidding around about the snow being gone, but it can be difficult to have a sense for how long it’s actually going to take to melt, especially for folks that aren’t out in the mountains every day. I’ve seen it happen several times on the forum each season, especially if there is a very warm period, there will be comments about the devastation of the snowpack, etc. etc. I suspect a lot of it is simply for drama or whatever, but one tool I’d recommend for monitoring the actual spring snowpack in this area would be to use the SkiVT-L Mt. Mansfield Snow Depth Graph. You can see the average rate of spring melting by looking at the slope of the right side of the green “average” area. It’s not quite a linear rate of snowpack decrease, but it’s close enough. That rate is of course for a winter-long consolidated snowpack, but obviously the various spring snowfalls throughout the years are in that average as well, and this current snowfall is definitely at the dense end of the new snow spectrum and will have plenty of staying power. As one can see if they use the link, the snowpack is still about 20 inches below average for this time of year, even after the recent storm, but one can assume a similar rate of melting, and draw a line parallel to the slope of the “average” melting rate, starting from the current position. That puts the melt out at around mid May, assuming no lengthy periods of dramatically aberrant weather. Also, that plot doesn’t include whatever manmade snow is available, so that changes things up a bit for some of the snowmaking areas in terms of actual snow on the ground. So there should be roughly another month of natural snowpack up in the high elevations of the Northern Greens under typical conditions; whether one considers that a long or short duration is an issue of perspective.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Couple of late additions from the lowlands

Had at least 2 hail showers come through on the 12th

and then some nice views as I drove West on 9/202 in Northwood

post-1816-0-19680900-1334500993.jpg

and a wider view looking NE

post-1816-0-19098400-1334501340.jpg

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Nice shots BB...I love virga streaks and the localized nature of popcorn showers when viewed from a distance.

And JSpin...yeah that significant snow elevation is slowly creeping upward on Mansfield too. Several inches of snow starts around 2200 and quickly goes over a foot at 2500-2600 (Cliff at Nosedive). The next 1000ft are pretty much still 16-22" of new depth over the old snow. Im still able to comfortably ski the trees down to Cliff Trail from the Bypass/Nosedive Glades area which is amazing because that was unskiable the last two weeks of March.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.

×