Great solid base on the upper mountain

Saturday, November 30, 2013

I went over to Chute 1 yesterday to see how the coverage was, and was very impressed with how solid the three feet or so of base felt. Only a rock or two poking out, but even the top rollover was covered well enough to ski. A bit tricky yesterday and then again today when I went back as the snow surface is very uneven due to avalanche control work by Patrol and the resultant slides, but good steep skiing nonetheless!

Found some powder in the trees around Four Points along the northern aspects and in other shaded regions. But these swatches of powder were only a few turns at a time, except near the cat tracks where I found maybe a half dozen sweet turns. Same was true over in Priest Creek, although that has a far more southern exposure allowing the sun to affect the snow more. The lower half of Flying Z was also skiing quite well.

So great coverage and excellent early season skiing! We may get a bit of snow tomorrow, but the storm cycle forecast to begin mid-week or a bit earlier is eagerly awaited.

Winter blast still timed for mid week

Friday, November 29, 2013

After a nice Friday and Saturday, a weak wave approaching from the northwest will produce some light snow showers beginning Sunday morning and continuing through Monday around noon. This wave is trending slightly stronger in the models, and I might expect 3-6” on the hill by Monday afternoon based upon this morning’s model runs.

A nice Monday afternoon and Tuesday before a storm currently moving across Alaska will affect our area perhaps as early as Tuesday night. . Some energy splits from this storm by Wednesday and drags cold air across the northern third of the west. The rest of the storm drops south along the west coast and turns the flow over our area to the southwest. Good snows by Tuesday night or Wednesday morning should occur along the frontal boundary in our proximity.

There are differences in how the storm to our west evolves, but cold winter-like temperatures are expected. Currently, it appears the front will become quasi-stationary over our area from Tuesday night through Thursday or so, keeping the coldest air to our north There will be periods of moderate to heavy snow as energy ejects from the storm to our west along the frontal boundary until a Pacific wave rounds a building ridge in the Gulf of Alaska and kicks the main part of the storm over us around Friday. More snow and colder temperatures are expected then, and into the weekend as additional waves of energy form the north move over the area in the very cold and unstable air mass.

The ridge in the Gulf of Alaska is handled differently by different models, so it is not clear if this winter pattern persists into the following week.

Well advertised pattern change still forecast to occur midweek

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Some very light snow is a possibility during the day Sunday, but amounts will be minimal.

Attention turns to the pattern change around midweek that was forecast as early as a week ago. A storm currently moving across Alaska will rapidly intensify in the Gulf of Alaska the weekend. Some energy splits from this storm by Wednesday and drags cold air across the northern third of the west. The rest of the storm drops south along the west coast and turns the flow over our area to the southwest. Good snow by Tuesday night or Wednesday morning should occur along the frontal boundary in our proximity.

Snow should be relatively steady until intensifying later in the work week as a cold wave from the polar regions kicks the storm over California to the west and over our area. I would expect significant accumulations from Wednesday through Friday before very cold and dryer mid-winter like air will moves over our area by Friday and especially Saturday.

Strong inversion are likely to develop and persist, keepiing mountain valleys in the deep freeze even as the upper elevations begin to moderate by the end of the weekend.

Surprisingly good powder skiing in the trees

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Today is the traditional Scholarship Day when the Steamboat Ski Area donates all ticket sales to the Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club. I received varied reports yesterday as to the conditions up top, and with some of the reports indicating good skiing and others not so good, I ventured out to explore the Priest Creek area myself (encompasses Closet, Shadows, Sundown lift line and then all the way across the O’Clocks to High Noon).

Skier traffic is limited by skiers and riders having to skate/slide as much as 1.25 miles on the Duster cat track back to Rainbow saddle. For those willing to do the work, I thought the skiing in any of the tree shelterd northern and northwestern aspects excellent. There is about 36” of dense base snow, with only about the top foot penetrated by the springy and buttery turns. Coverage is excellent. However, I did find some of the no-so-good reported to be on the open runs with southern or western aspects where wind and sun had compacted the powder into a crust.

Also ripping fun was White Out, which has a northern aspect and thus great snow. That run develops lots of bumps early in the ski season, however today it was soft and flat. I was able to make wonderful long and medium radius turns from top to bottom, and I can’t remember when that was possible!

Likely light snow this weekend followed by big storm potential as storm track shifts

Monday, November 25, 2013

As the departing storm soaks the Gulf Coast and the the east coast during Thanksgiving week, a ridge over the west coast produces generally warm temperatures and dry weather until the weekend. A wave to our northeast grazes the area on Tuesday bringing some slight cooling and clouds before temperatures warm and skies around mid-week.

A strong storm in the Pacific crashes into the west coast ridge around Thanksgiving Day allowing some precipitation to reach southern California by Friday. Coincidentally, a strong wave breaks off from the polar vortex and moves south across Alaska, intensifying in the Gulf of Alaska by Saturday. A piece of energy from this storm is currently forecast to move over our area sometime this weekend producing snow as the mountain-top flow turns to the northwest and moistens.

There is a lot of uncertainty with regards to how much interaction between this wave in northwest flow and the storm moving eastward from southern California. Previous forecasts had a dry forecast for the weekend, but current forecasts are more optimistic.

But more certain is that a storm cycle for the northwest and Rocky Mountains begins as the Gulf of Alaska low begins to move south and east. Likely heavy snow starts this weekend along the northwest coast and move inland before reaching our area around Tuesday. Current forecasts have this as a major and long-lasting pattern change that may provide significant snows and cold winter temperatures through at least early December.

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