Powder snow becoming scarce

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Heading up for my afternoon ski around 2pm, it was obvious that Steamboat’s visitors have arrived as Heavenly Daze was crowded. Lift lines on the upper mountain have pretty much disappeared by then, so I went looking for soft snow in Shadows. Lots of places of great packed powder skiing, but I only found a few areas that had the one or two untracked turns. The snow in Lower Shadows warmed up nicely yesterday, and since it was cooler today with less sun, I opted for a cruiser down Moonlight to access Sundown.

The Sundown lifline was skiing very good, albeit it a bit stiff with our cool temperatures. I cut over to 3 O’Clock near the bottom to avoid the sparse snow just above Duster, and found soft snow first on the left side of the groomer track down 3 O’Clock and then the right side near the bottom.

My last run on the upper hill was Closet, which also had pockets of cut up powder as well as the odd hidden stash of untracked. I cut over to Hurricane and then down to Vagabond to ski some interesting snow in the trees over by Why Not and above BC Skiway. Lots of downed trees in there and we only have 41” mid mountain base, so the skiing was slow, careful and deliberate. Still, it was nice to ski some difficult-to-reach powder on the lower mountain.

After a bit of snow tonight, the storm forecast for Tuesday into Wednesday is uncertain as one model predicts substantial snow while another predicts far less. It seems we have had so many New Years Day powder days over the years I would lean toward the more optimistic forecast until more details emerge in subsequent model runs.

A bit more certain is that the pattern change forecast by the American model for several weeks now is likely to occur in about a weeks time, or perhaps just after next weekend. The European model has for the last two model runs agreed that another arctic outbreak is likely, similar to the one a few weeks ago, as the polar vortex over Hudson Bay moves westward.

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