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mreaves

NNE Spring

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Just peeked at bestsnow, and noted that Sugarloaf was listed at 175" from a location at 3,695'. Since Eustis, 10 miles north and 2,435' lower, averages 126", I find the 'Loaf number oddly low. I don't think it's the best for upslope (Saddleback's probably better) but its elevational gain in synoptic events ought to be way more than 40% above Eustis. This is especially true in shoulder-season and other marginal storms. They reportedly got 4-5 feet from the 2007 Patriot's Day storm (Eustis 13.3") and another 4'+ in the late Feb mushfest in 2010 (Eustis 22.7".)

Or maybe I'm just being picky...

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Just peeked at bestsnow, and noted that Sugarloaf was listed at 175" from a location at 3,695'. Since Eustis, 10 miles north and 2,435' lower, averages 126", I find the 'Loaf number oddly low. I don't think it's the best for upslope (Saddleback's probably better) but it's elevational gain in synoptic events ought to be way more than 40% above Eustis. This is especially true in shoulder-season and other marginal storms. They reportedly got 4-5 feet from the 2007 Patriot's Day storm (Eustis 13.3") and another 4'+ in the late Feb mushfest in 2010 (Eustis 22.7".)

Or maybe I'm just being picky...

I find a 40-60% snowfall increase on Mansfield over the course of a season between base and summit...Tamarack you are right that there are big elevation differences in some storms, but I also think some people would be surprised to know how even a lot of synoptic storms can be when there isn't an orographic component...ie 11" low and 12" up high or something like that. That's why I sometimes asked hitman about Sugarbush occasionally this season when during a synoptic event they'd have 15" at the base and 30" at the summit when everyone else (including my boards) were showing like a 2-4" spread. Synoptic events happen higher up in the atmosphere where mid-level lift is king, and the precip is usually more spread out evenly, and not a function as much of terrain but just small banding differences well above summit heights. Of course there can be small stuff at play that can add a few inches orographically, but if temps are not an issue, it can be surprisingly even (ie 16-18" or something).

My largest differences in snowfall come from upslope events and the meso-scale stuff when you can get like 7" up high and 3" down low. It's those fluffy snowfalls when small differences in QPF are magnified by high ratios (ie only a tenth of an inch extra moisture leads to 4" more snowfall, when in a synoptic event that extra tenth or two gets you an inch).

Seeing as Sugarloaf doesn't get much of the upslope, and is mostly synoptic snow, maybe the differences aren't as pronounced except in certain big ticket marginal storms that occur once every few years? I'm sure Tony got that Sugarloaf number from someone at the ski area, as I'm not sure who else would provide it...but getting numbers yearly from a lot of areas isn't the easiest. I've noticed not as many areas like to advertise snowfall like the VT areas which usually make an easy to find running tally throughout the season (not by accident, lol)...like Sunday River doesn't list seasonal snowfall on their snow report, but rather number of days with snowmaking. Likewise I'm not even sure what Sugarloaf got this season cause I can't find the snowfall on their snow report, but I'm I the mobile site. All that said, I would've put Sugarloaf in the 200-225" range, probably what Stowe to Jay Peak would get without the extra hundred upslope inches.

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I find a 40-60% snowfall increase on Mansfield over the course of a season between base and summit...Tamarack you are right that there are big elevation differences in some storms, but I also think some people would be surprised to know how even a lot of synoptic storms can be when there isn't an orographic component...ie 11" low and 12" up high or something like that. That's why I sometimes asked hitman about Sugarbush occasionally this season when during a synoptic event they'd have 15" at the base and 30" at the summit when everyone else (including my boards) were showing like a 2-4" spread. Synoptic events happen higher up in the atmosphere where mid-level lift is king, and the precip is usually more spread out evenly, and not a function as much of terrain but just small banding differences well above summit heights. Of course there can be small stuff at play that can add a few inches orographically, but if temps are not an issue, it can be surprisingly even (ie 16-18" or something).

My largest differences in snowfall come from upslope events and the meso-scale stuff when you can get like 7" up high and 3" down low. It's those fluffy snowfalls when small differences in QPF are magnified by high ratios (ie only a tenth of an inch extra moisture leads to 4" more snowfall, when in a synoptic event that extra tenth or two gets you an inch).

Seeing as Sugarloaf doesn't get much of the upslope, and is mostly synoptic snow, maybe the differences aren't as pronounced except in certain big ticket marginal storms that occur once every few years? I'm sure Tony got that Sugarloaf number from someone at the ski area, as I'm not sure who else would provide it...but getting numbers yearly from a lot of areas isn't the easiest. I've noticed not as many areas like to advertise snowfall like the VT areas which usually make an easy to find running tally throughout the season (not by accident, lol)...like Sunday River doesn't list seasonal snowfall on their snow report, but rather number of days with snowmaking. Likewise I'm not even sure what Sugarloaf got this season cause I can't find the snowfall on their snow report, but I'm I the mobile site. All that said, I would've put Sugarloaf in the 200-225" range, probably what Stowe to Jay Peak would get without the extra hundred upslope inches.

 

I would love this data, if only because we're data sparse in the resort regions anyway.

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I would love this data, if only because we're data sparse in the resort regions anyway.

Even the Rangeley AP (1800') or better yet, Saddleback base at 2100, would offer something we've not had. Has Maine ever had a COOP site near 2000' elev?

PF, is that 40-60% increase base-to-COOP or base-to-PF's-board? If the former, I rest my case.   :santa:

 

Showery afternoon in central Maine - dry 90% of the time, but I'm glad I'm not in the thick stuff because 90% dry time means 100% soaking in the brush.

 

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Even the Rangeley AP (1800') or better yet, Saddleback base at 2100, would offer something we've not had. Has Maine ever had a COOP site near 2000' elev?

PF, is that 40-60% increase base-to-COOP or base-to-PF's-board? If the former, I rest my case.   :santa:

 

Showery afternoon in central Maine - dry 90% of the time, but I'm glad I'm not in the thick stuff because 90% dry time means 100% soaking in the brush.

 

 

Don't believe so. Closest would probably be our Rangeley sites.

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Even the Rangeley AP (1800') or better yet, Saddleback base at 2100, would offer something we've not had. Has Maine ever had a COOP site near 2000' elev?

PF, is that 40-60% increase base-to-COOP or base-to-PF's-board? If the former, I rest my case. :santa:

lol, base to my board. Any snowfall references are usually related to my measuring stakes unless specifically stated at the coop. But yeah I've found 40-60% increase and to be honest it's usually closer to the 60% than the 40%...but say 200" base to 300" upper mountain type spread.

In other news...a moose running around Burlington today has put it's head through a University of Vermont building per WCAX. Sounds like it's still wandering around frightened.

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Just peeked at bestsnow, and noted that Sugarloaf was listed at 175" from a location at 3,695'. Since Eustis, 10 miles north and 2,435' lower, averages 126", I find the 'Loaf number oddly low. I don't think it's the best for upslope (Saddleback's probably better) but its elevational gain in synoptic events ought to be way more than 40% above Eustis. This is especially true in shoulder-season and other marginal storms. They reportedly got 4-5 feet from the 2007 Patriot's Day storm (Eustis 13.3") and another 4'+ in the late Feb mushfest in 2010 (Eustis 22.7".)

 

Or maybe I'm just being picky...

 

We’ve talked about it before on here, but I’m simply amazed at how the Sugarloaf snowfall numbers at 3,695’ are essentially half of what falls in the Northern Greens.  I was curious to run the numbers myself, so between a thread at Sugarloaftoday.com and the season summary section on Tony’s Site, I grabbed the Sugarloaf snowfall numbers for all seasons since 1955-1956 and calculated the average:

 

Season             Snowfall

1955-1956         163”

1956-1957         124”

1957-1958         325”

1958-1959         131”

1959-1960         185”

1960-1961         206”

1961-1962         193”

1962-1963         152”

1963-1964         97”

1964-1965         77”

1965-1966         139”

1966-1967         83”

1967-1968         96”

1968-1969         347”

1969-1970         151”

1970-1971         252”

1971-1972         206”

1972-1973         173”

1973-1974         120”

1974-1975         170”

1975-1976         151”

1976-1977         158”

1977-1978         172”

1978-1979         172”

1979-1980         115”

1980-1981         89”

1981-1982         187”

1982-1983         138”

1983-1984         191”

1984-1985         124”

1985-1986         111”

1986-1987         218”

1987-1988         115”

1988-1989         125”

1989-1990         205”

1990-1991         206”

1991-1992         146”

1992-1993         210”

1993-1994         178”

1994-1995         140”

1995-1996         389”

1996-1997         224”

1997-1998         265”

1998-1999         171”

1999-2000         157”

2000-2001         280”

2001-2002         154”

2002-2003         112”

2003-2004         122”

2004-2005         166”

2005-2006         173”

2006-2007         223”

2007-2008         212”

2008-2009         186”

2009-2010         209”

2010-2011         184”

2011-2012         105”

2012-2013         182”

2013-2014         162

Mean                173 ± 61”

Median             170”

 

Sure enough, it’s right around the number that Tony has in his table for the Northeastern ski areas.  One can only hope that those 173 inches are really dense and that they can live off their great snow preservation.  There must be some weather patterns that are simply horrible for that area, because in 2010-2011 and 2011-2012 I recorded more my snowfall at my house at 495’ than Sugarloaf reported from 3,695’.  Perhaps the historical weather gurus on the list can look back at some of those seasons and comment on the low ones.  They must be measuring snowfall only once per day, but still, it makes me wonder if they record in a windswept area or something.  Just like sometimes (e.g. this January) it feels like we can’t figure out where the 300”+ comes from in the Northern Greens, I can’t figure out where Sugarloaf’s snowfall doesn’t come from.  It felt like every storm this spring we’d hear someone commenting about Sugarloaf pulled X inches of snow out of a crappy, somewhat warm system, but the best number I can find for a total this season is 162”; it’s just hard to imagine how all those storms didn’t add up.  I’ve seen the Sugarloaf snowfall numbers before, and the seasons that always blew me away were those double digit ones in the 1960s and 1980-1981; those must have been some crazy winters.  It was interesting to read the discussion in that thread at Sugarloaftoday.com about how there was a year they didn’t even open due to the lack of snow?  And talk about volatility in snowfall – think about 1967-1968 and 1968-1969 back to back there; what a turnaround!  And I cannot figure out 1967-1968, that doesn’t look that bad at all on Mansfield – essentially riding above average from mid November all the way through mid March, I think that would be a decent season.

 

06MAY14B.jpg

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We’ve talked about it before on here, but I’m simply amazed at how the Sugarloaf snowfall numbers at 3,695’ are essentially half of what falls in the Northern Greens.  I was curious to run the numbers myself, so between a thread at Sugarloaftoday.com and the season summary section on Tony’s Site, I grabbed the Sugarloaf snowfall numbers for all seasons since 1955-1956 and calculated the average:

 

Season             Snowfall

1955-1956         163”

1956-1957         124”

1957-1958         325”

1958-1959         131”

1959-1960         185”

1960-1961         206”

1961-1962         193”

1962-1963         152”

1963-1964         97”

1964-1965         77”

1965-1966         139”

1966-1967         83”

1967-1968         96”

1968-1969         347”

1969-1970         151”

1970-1971         252”

1971-1972         206”

1972-1973         173”

1973-1974         120”

1974-1975         170”

1975-1976         151”

1976-1977         158”

1977-1978         172”

1978-1979         172”

1979-1980         115”

1980-1981         89”

1981-1982         187”

1982-1983         138”

1983-1984         191”

1984-1985         124”

1985-1986         111”

1986-1987         218”

1987-1988         115”

1988-1989         125”

1989-1990         205”

1990-1991         206”

1991-1992         146”

1992-1993         210”

1993-1994         178”

1994-1995         140”

1995-1996         389”

1996-1997         224”

1997-1998         265”

1998-1999         171”

1999-2000         157”

2000-2001         280”

2001-2002         154”

2002-2003         112”

2003-2004         122”

2004-2005         166”

2005-2006         173”

2006-2007         223”

2007-2008         212”

2008-2009         186”

2009-2010         209”

2010-2011         184”

2011-2012         105”

2012-2013         182”

2013-2014         162

Mean                173 ± 61”

Median             170”

 

Sure enough, it’s right around the number that Tony has in his table for the Northeastern ski areas.  One can only hope that those 173 inches are really dense and that they can live off their great snow preservation.  There must be some weather patterns that are simply horrible for that area, because in 2010-2011 and 2011-2012 I recorded more my snowfall at my house at 495’ than Sugarloaf reported from 3,695’.  Perhaps the historical weather gurus on the list can look back at some of those seasons and comment on the low ones.  They must be measuring snowfall only once per day, but still, it makes me wonder if they record in a windswept area or something.  Just like sometimes (e.g. this January) it feels like we can’t figure out where the 300”+ comes from in the Northern Greens, I can’t figure out where Sugarloaf’s snowfall doesn’t come from.  It felt like every storm this spring we’d hear someone commenting about Sugarloaf pulled X inches of snow out of a crappy, somewhat warm system, but the best number I can find for a total this season is 162”; it’s just hard to imagine how all those storms didn’t add up.  I’ve seen the Sugarloaf snowfall numbers before, and the seasons that always blew me away were those double digit ones in the 1960s and 1980-1981; those must have been some crazy winters.  It was interesting to read the discussion in that thread at Sugarloaftoday.com about how there was a year they didn’t even open due to the lack of snow?  And talk about volatility in snowfall – think about 1967-1968 and 1968-1969 back to back there; what a turnaround!  And I cannot figure out 1967-1968, that doesn’t look that bad at all on Mansfield – essentially riding above average from mid November all the way through mid March, I think that would be a decent season.

 

77" to 389" seems like quite the standard deviation.

 

I wonder if it has to do with measuring site. The top of Sugarloaf is pretty much bare, probably down pretty close to that 4,000 foot level. It can be pretty wind swept at times being a rather isolated peak.

 

But really they always seem to hang onto the cold the longest, and can usually pull off big numbers during the elevation snow seasons. It is possible that their upslope snow is more of the mood variety rather than the stacking of dendrites farther west.

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I could believe it if Sugarloaf lived as an elite mountain on 175" per year because the snow retention there is obscene....though I do tend to think that number might be a bit low due to a suspect measuring site as already mentioned. Perhaps closer to 200-225 like powderfreak's estimate would be closer to reality...if I had to guess. Its kind of like how Mt. Washington reports 260" per year but that total would probably be closer to 400" if you measured in Tuckerman's.

 

 

But the biggest difference between that area and the Greens is definitely snow retention vs pure snow totals. You go back and look at all the years on the NOHRSC site and see how long the snow takes to melt in that area vs other places.

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I could believe it if Sugarloaf lived as an elite mountain on 175" per year because the snow retention there is obscene....though I do tend to think that number might be a bit low due to a suspect measuring site as already mentioned. Perhaps closer to 200-225 like powderfreak's estimate would be closer to reality...if I had to guess. Its kind of like how Mt. Washington reports 260" per year but that total would probably be closer to 400" if you measured in Tuckerman's.

 

 

But the biggest difference between that area and the Greens is definitely snow retention vs pure snow totals. You go back and look at all the years on the NOHRSC site and see how long the snow takes to melt in that area vs other places.

 

I mean they just closed shop for the year this week, and probably could've kept a few runs going into next week even.

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I mean they just closed shop for the year this week, and probably could've kept a few runs going into next week even.

Jay Peak will be open again this weekend...still looks pretty covered. Can still easily ski top to bottom on Mansfield too, 51" at the summit depth.

But granted Jay is doing this with twice the snowfall as Sugarloaf, but lesser retention.

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I could believe it if Sugarloaf lived as an elite mountain on 175" per year because the snow retention there is obscene....though I do tend to think that number might be a bit low due to a suspect measuring site as already mentioned. Perhaps closer to 200-225 like powderfreak's estimate would be closer to reality...if I had to guess. Its kind of like how Mt. Washington reports 260" per year but that total would probably be closer to 400" if you measured in Tuckerman's.

But the biggest difference between that area and the Greens is definitely snow retention vs pure snow totals. You go back and look at all the years on the NOHRSC site and see how long the snow takes to melt in that area vs other places.

Regarding the snow retention, the Spine of the Greens (especially the immediate east slope where Sugarbush/Stowe/Jay area) does very well...more so than people think. It's often going to fly under any snow cover map, too, because it's a small geographic area only a couple miles wide of amazing snow preservation. It's like when all the snow in your town has melted but then you find that one side of some dude's roof that faces north in some shady yard and he's still got a foot of rotting snow on that part of the roof when even the 30-foot talk mall parking lot piles have melted for a week. That's sort of what the east slope of the Spine is like, and I'm sure it's not a mistake that in the 1930s-1960s this is the main aspect these ski areas were developed on. It's like a small pocket of Maine-worthy snow preservation :lol:

I think where the real noticeable difference comes in, is where people actually live, the lower elevations, and the region in general. Like Maine/NH towns in general blow a lot of VT away in snow preservation...but in the mountains it's harder to quantify. Like once snow cover is laid on the mountain, I'm not worried about that disappearing. Once it's down in November, it usually stays there. Whereas town here could lose snow/it several times over while Rangley, ME keeps it throughout the winter no problem.

I really think the snow retention stuff relates more to the lower elevations (or at least that's where the more stark differences occur), as you rarely hear us saying we wish the mountains had better snow retention or something...it's really not something you think about on the shaded, cold east side. However, I guess I'd have to see what an average of 175" would be like here...I may feel differently about retention if you took 100-150" of snowfall away, haha.

The only real way to analyze Sugarloafs snowfall would be to get a spreadsheet of each day and snowfall...and try to find storms that seemed low based on the synoptic set-up or other reports in the area. That might show if there are some measuring issues, but honestly, it would surprise me if they were noticeably under-reporting snow on a consistent basis. That stuff spreads quickly in social media these days. And if the local forum doesn't see anything wrong with it (trust me, local pow hounds like to see accurate numbers), it's probably not too far off. Though sub-200" does surprise me still as like JSpin said, it seems there's talk on here of every storm dumping on them last season.

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man made glacier. few drift lines of natural still to ski, mostly left with bottomless punky snow that is more fun to say you skied it than to actually ski it.  Whatever, long descents still possible heading into the 2cd week of May, 26F here this morning and could probably manage some nice corn turns in May, bit of different spring this year.

 

nice pics PF.  Sunrise this morning

 

DSCN0079.jpg

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OceanSt, do you guys at the office get any snow survey or water equiv numbers from the mountains in that area between like Sunday River and Sugarloaf? Or any numbers above like 2,500ft?

It would be fun to compare those SWE numbers to what I got on Mansfield this spring. It wouldn't surprise me to find to find somewhat similar liquid amounts on the ground in the Sugarloaf region despite the raw snowfall difference. The past couple years we've hit 21-25" of SWE at 3,000ft in ~60" depth as it gets close to fully ripening. That's pretty close to an entire winter worth of QPF with only a little run off. I'm sure by sampling the Sugarloaf snowpack in the spring you could get close to the entire winter's worth of QPF too, as they probably have even less loss due to run off than here.

If not, Sugarloaf is tops on my list aside from Mansfield to spend my winters...the mountain/terrain/vertical/vibe seems to fit the bill. If I ever move there I'll stop in at GYX and register as a spotter haha.

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man made glacier. few drift lines of natural still to ski, mostly left with bottomless punky snow that is more fun to say you skied it than to actually ski it. Whatever, long descents still possible heading into the 2cd week of May, 26F here this morning and could probably manage some nice corn turns in May, bit of different spring this year.

nice pics PF. Sunrise this morning

To clarify those pics I believe were from Steve Wright or JJ Tolland, Jay employees.

I could talk snow and ski area climo all summer long, haha.

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Regarding the snow retention, the Spine of the Greens (especially the immediate east slope where Sugarbush/Stowe/Jay area) does very well...more so than people think. It's often going to fly under any snow cover map, too, because it's a small geographic area only a couple miles wide of amazing snow preservation. It's like when all the snow in your town has melted but then you find that one side of some dude's roof that faces north in some shady yard and he's still got a foot of rotting snow on that part of the roof when even the 30-foot talk mall parking lot piles have melted for a week. That's sort of what the east slope of the Spine is like, and I'm sure it's not a mistake that in the 1930s-1960s this is the main aspect these ski areas were developed on. It's like a small pocket of Maine-worthy snow preservation :lol:

I think where the real noticeable difference comes in, is where people actually live, the lower elevations, and the region in general. Like Maine/NH towns in general blow a lot of VT away in snow preservation...but in the mountains it's harder to quantify. Like once snow cover is laid on the mountain, I'm not worried about that disappearing. Once it's down in November, it usually stays there. Whereas town here could lose snow/it several times over while Rangley, ME keeps it throughout the winter no problem.

I really think the snow retention stuff relates more to the lower elevations (or at least that's where the more stark differences occur), as you rarely hear us saying we wish the mountains had better snow retention or something...it's really not something you think about on the shaded, cold east side. However, I guess I'd have to see what an average of 175" would be like here...I may feel differently about retention if you took 100-150" of snowfall away, haha.

The only real way to analyze Sugarloafs snowfall would be to get a spreadsheet of each day and snowfall...and try to find storms that seemed low based on the synoptic set-up or other reports in the area. That might show if there are some measuring issues, but honestly, it would surprise me if they were noticeably under-reporting snow on a consistent basis. That stuff spreads quickly in social media these days. And if the local forum doesn't see anything wrong with it (trust me, local pow hounds like to see accurate numbers), it's probably not too far off. Though sub-200" does surprise me still as like JSpin said, it seems there's talk on here of every storm dumping on them last season.

 

 

 

That's where my "snow retention vs pure snowfall" comment came from. Those Maine areas are generally on par (from what I have seen) with N Greens for snow retention but achieve it on less annual snowfall. So the residual "retention parameter" for lack of a better term is much higher there. They might have a 60 inch snow depth at 2500 feet on Sunday River or Sugarloaf off of 150 inches of snowfall to that point whereas perhaps a place in the Greens do it on 240 inches or something...just as an example. A lot of the extra upslope snow in the greens too is quite low in water content so it will settle too...of course you know this.

 

 

 

And yes, the lower elevations out there are def ridiculous for snowpack retention. That pic of me back in late March underneath a kid's slide/playground thingy with like 4 feet of snow on the ground was at an elevation of 800 feet where we were staying. I recall many other trips up there in the late 90s where the snowpack would literally increase exponentially once north of Gray, ME....despite only modest elevation increase.

 

 

 

As for the accuracy of Sugarloafs numbers...it wont be off by more than about 15-20% I wouldn't think...but given the wind there, I could easily see a mini-Mt. Washington effect if they are trying to measure somewhat close to the summit. I've seen Sunday River's annual snowfall (I assume this means mid-mountain) listed at 165-170" a bunch of times (which lines up fairly well with Pinkham Notch's 150-155" per year at 2,000 feet across the border in NH)...so 175" for Sugarloaf at 3600 feet and some extra latitude would definitely sound a little bit low to me.

 

 

Regardless, the actual snowfall totals there are mostly just a trivial fact...their retention is so strong that they seem to do just fine on what they get...whether its 170" or 210". But if I had to guess for high up on Sugarloaf, I'd hedge more toward the latter number.

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PF:  IIRC, your board sits at a bit above 3,000', and the base is around 1,500'.  The climb from Eustis' 126" to Sugarloaf's 175" covers over 2,400', so I'd expect a larger gain, not one at the low end of the range you noted.  Numbers don't lie, though measuring techniques can sometimes mislead.  (perhaps Sugarloaf's, not yours!!)

 

Thanks much for those numbers , J.Spin!  Some of them I find curiously low, as have others.  The best (worst?) example is 1966-67, with 83" at Sugarloaf while Farmington at 420' measured 75.7", a tiny tiny difference considering geography.  That was a SNE/northern MA winter, for sure (I had just over 100" in NNJ), but the storms that missed the 'Loaf pretty much missed Farmington as well.  My NNJ March total was a bit over 30" and Farmington got a whole 2.5", Sugarloaf had to have been dry as well.  Below are the numbers for a snowy mid-April in Farmington.  Hard to believe that 3,695' would have seen less than 2 feet from that period.

 

 

4/16/1967....37....28....0.42....1

4/17/1967....33....28....0.26....1

4/18/1967....36....29....0.48....2

4/19/1967....32....30....1.06....9

 

Edit:  Taking the Sugarloaf years for which I have Eustis data (1983-84 on), the mountain avg is 182", village 124", so the 2,435' elev gain runs 47%.  Individual seasons range from 131% in 2009-10 down to -8% in 1985-86.  Eustis also "won" in 1987-88.  Given that they are only 10-12 miles apart, I'd think it would take something amazing, like the inversion that created Jan 1998, to override the elevational advantage.  IIRC, neither of those 1980s winters had anything of the kind there.

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That's where my "snow retention vs pure snowfall" comment came from. Those Maine areas are generally on par (from what I have seen) with N Greens for snow retention but achieve it on less annual snowfall. So the residual "retention parameter" for lack of a better term is much higher there. They might have a 60 inch snow depth at 2500 feet on Sunday River or Sugarloaf off of 150 inches of snowfall to that point whereas perhaps a place in the Greens do it on 240 inches or something...just as an example. A lot of the extra upslope snow in the greens too is quite low in water content so it will settle too...of course you know this.

And yes, the lower elevations out there are def ridiculous for snowpack retention. That pic of me back in late March underneath a kid's slide/playground thingy with like 4 feet of snow on the ground was at an elevation of 800 feet where we were staying. I recall many other trips up there in the late 90s where the snowpack would literally increase exponentially once north of Gray, ME....despite only modest elevation increase.

As for the accuracy of Sugarloafs numbers...it wont be off by more than about 15-20% I wouldn't think...but given the wind there, I could easily see a mini-Mt. Washington effect if they are trying to measure somewhat close to the summit. I've seen Sunday River's annual snowfall (I assume this means mid-mountain) listed at 165-170" a bunch of times (which lines up fairly well with Pinkham Notch's 150-155" per year at 2,000 feet across the border in NH)...so 175" for Sugarloaf at 3600 feet and some extra latitude would definitely sound a little bit low to me.

Regardless, the actual snowfall totals there are mostly just a trivial fact...their retention is so strong that they seem to do just fine on what they get...whether its 170" or 210". But if I had to guess for high up on Sugarloaf, I'd hedge more toward the latter number.

All excellent points...and I think the retention point could most obviously be hit by comparing a VT area with similar snowfall to the ME ski areas. A place like Stratton or Okemo in VT are listed in the 175" range, and the snow depths at those places won't come close to Sugarloaf. It may not be a fair example, but they don't get much upslope aside from occasional dying lake effect squalls or something, so safe to say most of their snow is synoptic in nature. But being much further SW, their retention is lacking severely over Maine.

Regarding SR's snowfall...I would assume anything you see to be from an upper mountain snowfall if it's listed by the ski area. Ski area totals in New England you can bet money any total you see to be from the higher number on a snow report...it's fairly standard to do base and summit numbers, but I don't know anyone that does a true mid-mountain and actively uses it.

And yes, it's a moot point in the grand scheme of things, except for one factor...number of powder days for skiers and riders. The reason people ski and ride is usually for powder or at least they hope they get a powder day on their trip. An extra 100" of fluff may not do much for the base, but just think, that's 10 more powder days of 10" during the season.

From a skiers perspective, the fluff can be heavenly to ski through, while it's not going to do much to satisfy any snowpack fetishes. Someone like Dryslot who snowmobiles may not have a ton of use for it if it doesn't increase the depths much on the trails for the heavy machines, but skiers and riders love it. Like this photo from a day when a surprise foot fell overnight....if the temp warmed up to 45F or it rained a little, this would probably settle to 2-4" haha. But these turns were quite sublime:

IMG_5670_edited-2.jpg

Every place has their benefits...like I'm jealous of the SVT to Sugarloaf axis because they often get the big ticket storms, the monster nor'easters. I think that's a function of the board though...it's hard for us up here to enjoy a big storm with everyone else. We obviously get the big storms, but are left playing with the ball by ourselves more often than not, haha. Like BDL-ORH and Sugarloaf can get in on the same huge coastal storm, but it's not often that BDL-ORH and Mansfield both get big snows in a coastal storm. First world problems though :lol:

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Hopefully a 2010 style -NAO for NNE this year with our burgeoning Nino.

 

Is there any good article for the effects of El Nino on the NNE ski resorts? All I could find is about California. Maybe we should start a thread on the upcoming winter. :)

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Is there any good article for the effects of El Nino on the NNE ski resorts? All I could find is about California. Maybe we should start a thread on the upcoming winter. :)

 

Looked up enso for the Sugarloaf winters, above (without 12-13 and 13-14 - were they weak ninas?  Won't matter much as both years were close to the overall avg.) 

 

The site breakdown for labeling enso conditions had:

weak: 0.5-0.9  Moderate  1.0-1.4   strong  1.5+

 

ENSO: W.Nino..M.Nino..S.Nino..La Nada..W.Nina..M.Nina..S.Nina

 

N=...........6............7...........6..........18..........11..........4...........5

Avg.......167........181......193........160........182.......200.......147

 

Med......162........146......156........175........173.......192.......151

 

High......223........347......325........224........389.......252.......184

Low.......131..........97......115..........83..........77.......163.......120

 

Looks like Sugarloaf doesn't care much, except maybe for the extremes - standard deviation (Excel's default formula) puts all the averages as not being statistically different from each other.  Three of the five two-digit dead-ratters were La Nada.  All three 300+ are above; 4th (280) is a weak nina, 5th (265) a strong nino.

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OceanSt, do you guys at the office get any snow survey or water equiv numbers from the mountains in that area between like Sunday River and Sugarloaf? Or any numbers above like 2,500ft?

It would be fun to compare those SWE numbers to what I got on Mansfield this spring. It wouldn't surprise me to find to find somewhat similar liquid amounts on the ground in the Sugarloaf region despite the raw snowfall difference. The past couple years we've hit 21-25" of SWE at 3,000ft in ~60" depth as it gets close to fully ripening. That's pretty close to an entire winter worth of QPF with only a little run off. I'm sure by sampling the Sugarloaf snowpack in the spring you could get close to the entire winter's worth of QPF too, as they probably have even less loss due to run off than here.

If not, Sugarloaf is tops on my list aside from Mansfield to spend my winters...the mountain/terrain/vertical/vibe seems to fit the bill. If I ever move there I'll stop in at GYX and register as a spotter haha.

 

No mountains, but we do have a site in NH at 2,500 ft (Breezy Point) that the Corp reports SWE for. There is also the Height of Land (shade below 2,400 ft). Other than that we have nothing over 2,000 ft.

 

I fully support you moving to Sugarloaf, we'd have much better record keeping.

 

I just skied there for the first time at the end of March, loved it.

 

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Looked up enso for the Sugarloaf winters, above (without 12-13 and 13-14 - were they weak ninas? Won't matter much as both years were close to the overall avg.)

The site breakdown for labeling enso conditions had:

weak: 0.5-0.9 Moderate 1.0-1.4 strong 1.5+

ENSO: W.Nino..M.Nino..S.Nino..La Nada..W.Nina..M.Nina..S.Nina

N=...........6............7...........6..........18..........11..........4...........5

Avg.......167........181......193........160........182.......200.......147

Med......162........146......156........175........173.......192.......151

High......223........347......325........224........389.......252.......184

Low.......131..........97......115..........83..........77.......163.......120

Looks like Sugarloaf doesn't care much, except maybe for the extremes - standard deviation (Excel's default formula) puts all the averages as not being statistically different from each other. Three of the five two-digit dead-ratters were La Nada. All three 300+ are above; 4th (280) is a weak nina, 5th (265) a strong nino.

I actually just had this discussion with Tony Crocker from Bestsnow.net, and he had done research on different ski area regions around the US with regards to ENSO state...he found that in general, New England ski country is a toss up with Niño and that other factors like NAO likely have a bigger effect. You have equal chances with Niño being above normal or below normal in snowfall here (pretty much what you just posted about Sugarloaf, near normal). He did find that La Niña tends to give a slightly higher than normal snowfall with a more clear signal for New England resorts.

So it seems Niño or not, it probably won't matter or at least not on it's own...we could still have an awesome winter or a sub-par winter or pretty darn normal. Some other factor(s) will be the main driver, not ENSO.

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I dug a little deeper on the Sugarloaf numbers and some of them look suspect...esp in the 1960s. Like that low year of 77" in 1964-1965...the Oquossoc, ME coop right near them 2,300 feet lower recorded 81". Hard to believe that Sugarloaf would have had less snow at their elevation and orographic setup.

 

Records up in that region aren't the greatest of course. The Eustis Coop is riddled with missing data too. Rangeley is better overall but still not optimal...and the early part of their period in the 1960s/1970s is awful.

 

 

We could really use some better data up there. Closer to Sunday River, the best data is definitely Pinkham Notch.

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Yeah no data going back that far is going to be really worth a lot of confidence...that's why I only really trust Stowe's data back to 1997-1998 from the ski area. I personally know the person who took those measurements, and then I took it from there starting in 2008. That's what causes the whole averages debate sometime about what is "normal" because recently has been sort of a snow surplus, but I just don't know who or how earlier measurements were made so I'm not going to use it. The fact that the COOP isn't running a snow surplus in the past 15 years makes me think maybe the averages are right and the surplus has been more in lower elevations, but then again the COOP snowfall collection is so sketchy it's hard to even take that seriously even to compare with itself.

But for Sugarloaf or any ski area, who knows if in the 80s or 90s if it was even measured or just eyeballed by some groomer out his snowcat window? Heck based on stuff I've heard from the 90s and 80s prior to any social media and the Internet, that you should probably throw out all measurements, haha. There's a common theory that back then snowfall was much more marketing related because social media wasn't there to call it out if it was wrong...no checks and balances. Today you over-report snow and you have a social media problem by 11am, haha. If anything I would've guessed the 80s and 90s snowfall to be too high.

Obviously take that long term stuff with a very large grain of salt.

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Yeah no data going back that far is going to be really worth a lot of confidence...that's why I only really trust Stowe's data back to 1997-1998 from the ski area. I personally know the person who took those measurements, and then I took it from there starting in 2008. That's what causes the whole averages debate sometime about what is "normal" because recently has been sort of a snow surplus, but I just don't know who or how earlier measurements were made so I'm not going to use it. The fact that the COOP isn't running a snow surplus in the past 15 years makes me think maybe the averages are right and the surplus has been more in lower elevations, but then again the COOP snowfall collection is so sketchy it's hard to even take that seriously even to compare with itself.

But for Sugarloaf or any ski area, who knows if in the 80s or 90s if it was even measured or just eyeballed by some groomer out his snowcat window? Heck based on stuff I've heard from the 90s and 80s prior to any social media and the Internet, that you should probably throw out all measurements, haha. There's a common theory that back then snowfall was much more marketing related because social media wasn't there to call it out if it was wrong...no checks and balances. Today you over-report snow and you have a social media problem by 11am, haha. If anything I would've guessed the 80s and 90s snowfall to be too high.

Obviously take that long term stuff with a very large grain of salt.

 

Slant sticking on the summit? Ha

 

The second point is pretty interesting, I hadn't thought of it that way. Because social media is really our only access to snowfall reports at our area mountains.

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Slant sticking on the summit? Ha

 

The second point is pretty interesting, I hadn't thought of it that way. Because social media is really our only access to snowfall reports at our area mountains.

 

 

I've never seen a list of ski area totals going back more than a few years around New England.

 

It would be interesting to look at their "reported totals" versus some of the coops. Like a list of a dozen or so ski resort totals going back 30-40 years. The Sugarloaf one that was posted further up definitely seems to have some inconsistencies in it when examining the data deeper. Like powderfreak said, for all we know, in 1965 some guy just eyeballed snow. Maybe they didn't even report every event. That doesn't make the data useless of course, but it does probably tell us to keep the error bars somewhat high when using it statistically.

 

Regardless, I would think it almost meteorologically impossible to get towns like Oquossoc, ME with more snow in a season than 3600 feet on the slope of Sugarloaf just to their southeast.

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Slant sticking on the summit? Ha

The second point is pretty interesting, I hadn't thought of it that way. Because social media is really our only access to snowfall reports at our area mountains.

Well social media has certainly made it a more honest trade in general...I mean prior to that marketing (goes for any product in any industry) could get away with just about anything. Now, social media will call you out immediately if a consumer feels they were screwed...ie a ski area can't say it's snowing if it's raining out. If it's raining and you don't say it's raining, Facebook and Twitter become your enemies.

I'd say for you guys at a NWS position, social media makes the ski area totals more reliable...you know they are fighting a stigma of inaccuracy and they certainly don't want to spend the day dealing with the aftermath of a botched report. That's the reason I take so many pictures...primarily for insurance against doubters haha.

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I actually just had this discussion with Tony Crocker from Bestsnow.net, and he had done research on different ski area regions around the US with regards to ENSO state...he found that in general, New England ski country is a toss up with Niño and that other factors like NAO likely have a bigger effect. You have equal chances with Niño being above normal or below normal in snowfall here (pretty much what you just posted about Sugarloaf, near normal). He did find that La Niña tends to give a slightly higher than normal snowfall with a more clear signal for New England resorts.

So it seems Niño or not, it probably won't matter or at least not on it's own...we could still have an awesome winter or a sub-par winter or pretty darn normal. Some other factor(s) will be the main driver, not ENSO.

Interesting discussion... thanks everyone!

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