Tuesday, December 24, 2013
Temperatures rose through last night until they finally began to fall with frontal passage around 4am. We had a nice burst of snow from around 9am - 10am which dropped a quick 2”, and with that added to this mornings 3” report, the mountain had about 5” of snow from this storm.
The wind picked up during the day, forcing temporary lift closures for Storm Peak and Morningside. By the time I got up there for my afternoon of skiing, the wind had died down and the sun even made an appearance for my last couple of runs. The snow in the upper half of the Priest Creek area was very wind affected and more difficult skiing than the day before, but areas at lower elevation like parts of Lower Shadows and the Rolex trees did not see as much wind and skied very well. There are even pockets of deep untracked snow hiding about.
Good skiing on the lower mountain as well as it wasn’t as windy down there. Generally soft snow everywhere on the hill, with wind affected powder on the firm side. I took Lower Vagabond down for a ride up Thunderhead at the end of the day, and that groomer was skiing great. Even Heavenly Daze had soft carveable snow.
Far more sun than snow looks to be on tap for the remainder of the year, but the skiing is great right now!
The well advertised wave moving through northwest flow did not begin to affect our area till around 4am this morning. We had a burst of snowfall between around 9-10am that was falling at several inches per hour, and another band looks to cross the area later this afternoon. The snow that fell earlier was relatively dense, and with some round graupel particles mixed in, the snow should fill in the tracks on the hill nicely. Temperatures should be falling through the day and hopefully we can get some accumulating snow crystals called dendrites to add a layer of light and fluffy powder for later today. I expect outstanding skiing on the hill today as the storm passes through.
If skies clear tonight, it could be a chilly start to the day tomorrow, although it should be a brilliantly sunny day. A dry wave passes Thursday and that may knock temperatures down a few degrees before they rebound to produce unseasonably warm weather by Friday. Valleys will likely stay cool as temperature inversions reform and persist over the the fresh snowpack.
Another weak wave to our north that grazes the area on Saturday will create more seasonable temperatures that look to last into and possibly through the next work week. Models are struggling with the forecast for the following weekend as one flattens the ridge in the Gulf of Alaska possibly leading to some weather for our area while another rebuilds the ridge and keeps us dry.
Monday, December 23, 2013
Only 5” of the reported 13.5” at mid-mountain fell overnight, but the skiing was so good the day before that I was up early for first tracks. The temperatures had warmed about 5F from the day before, and the snow under the Sundown lift was wind-affected, with the beginnings of a wind slab forming. The wind had even gotten into the trees, though far less than the open slopes.
I headed for the wind-sheltered spots that skied the best. I measured a foot, although half of that was transported by the wind. I could definitely feel the denser snow on top of yesterdays very light powder. Since storms usually start out warm and end cold, the snow usually becomes lighter as the storm progresses leading to sublime powder skiing. Upside-down snow, conversely, has a dense layer of snow sitting atop a light layer, and it makes the snow inconsistent and difficult to ski. Wider skis and snowboards tend to fair better in these conditions as the wider surface underfoot keeps the rider in the denser snow layer and out of the lighter snow.
Areas that seemed least wind affected were Closet, the lower half of Shadows and Lower Shadows and the trees around Rolex. My last run was up Morningside to check out the East Face and the Second Pitch. The snow stake at the top read 66”, which is an actual 60” of base.
It looks like we are going to add to our 2 foot storm total as the final wave affects our area beginning after midnight. This wave is relatively quick moving, but it is moist and cool and in northwest flow. We sometimes get more snowfall than expected with this setup, and optimistically I see another 5-10” on the hill by tomorrow afternoon. I would expect some Steamboat Magic to occur between report time at 5am and ski time around 9am creating several hours of heavy snowfall rates.
We may see some sun in the valley by tomorrow afternoon as snow showers on the hill wind down, and if skies clear Tuesday night, Christmas day will start sunny and cool. A weak wave passes by on Thursday, but that likely won’t even affect our sunny skies that are forecast to persist into the weekend. A wave in northwest flow is currently forecast to produce some snow showers by Saturday afternoon, but the eventual westward extent of this wave will determine how much snow we receive.
Skies clear after the weekend disturbance passes, so the beginning of the work week should start out nice before another wave in northwest flow is forecast to affect us as early as Tuesday.
Sunday, December 22, 2013
I didn’t press glass based on this morning’s 8” report since only 2” of that fell overnight. I had about 2” of snow on my deck this morning and it was snowing. Satellite loop showed an enhancement over our area, and I was optimistic Steamboat Magic would yield some good snow between the 5am report time and 9am. Well, on that first run, I measured THIRTEEN INCHES in the favored areas of Shadows. The snow was very light and fluffy, probably around 4%, which unfortunately meant you could feel the hard surface underneath.
But the snow was falling steadily at around 3/4”/hour for most of then time I was up there, and the runs kept getting better. Not only was the snow deeper, but it was skied-in a little bit which removed the former hard surface from the bottom of the turn. Shadows, Closet, Twilight and the trees around Rolex all skied great. Most of my skiing is usually a couple of hours in the afternoon, so I tired enough around 1:30pm to call it a day. But my last run was up Morningside to a short hike to the top of Mt. Werner to access the East Face.
At the top is a snow stake that read 63”, which is really a 57” base since the ruler starts at 6”! Probably close to 18” of snow near the top with some areas measuring 2 feet! Complete over-the-head immersion once the pitch steepened. Another short sidestep up to the Second Pitch which also hid some more over-the-head turns.
Still snowing lightly down here this afternoon, but I expect persistent snow on the hill through the night. We could be looking at a number around 2 feet in the morning report!