Wednesday, March 12, 2014
The Steamboat ski area reported 3” mid / 1” top Tuesday morning, and the report for this Wednesday morning was 4” mid / 8” top, with almost all of the reported snow today occurring during the day yesterday.
I’d like to point out an inconsistency in the morning report; the 5am report is apparently composed of a measurement around 4:30 am at mid-mountain, while the top measurement is called in by a snow cat driver closer to 3 am, at least based upon the report yesterday morning and the pictures provided by the powdercam located next to the measurement stake.
The end result is that disparities between the 5 am mid and top measurements should be discounted since the top measurement is not taken at the standard time. Indeed, the top did NOT receive 5” of snow between 5 am and 9 am yesterday morning as reported; it received 5” between 3 am and 9 am, and 3” between 5 am and 9 am, similar to what mid-mountain received.
So I headed up yesterday mid-morning for the 6” of snow, and several snow showers during the morning and early afternoon kept the runs skiing fresh as we eventually netted 8” mid / 9” top. Closet into Shadows first thing was generally very good until the crunchy sub-surface was exposed about half way down. Skiing was better and more consistent in the more northern aspects of Closet and Sideburn.
Twilight and both skier’s right and left of that drainage skied great as the pitch was shallow enough and the still-accumulating snows deep enough to separate the skier from crunchies underneath. Same for Rolex, and generally the top half skied better than the bottom half all day.
I had planned for only a couple of hours of skiing, but the conditions kept improving during the day. North St. Pats skied great, as usual, though by then easterly winds had picked up creating a smooth surface of wind-packed snow. As the winds increased for my last run, No Names provided great shelter and snow.
Those easterly winds played havoc with the snow measurement site - check out the drifting at about 3:45 pm yesterday; the location was buried 15 minutes later!
Monday, March 10, 2014
After another spring-like day today, a splitting storm very similar to the one on Friday, but cooler, affects our area beginning around midnight tonight. Moderate snows are likely as the front barrels across the region very early Tuesday morning, with 2-4” expected by report time.
But the system splits around us as a wave traveling around the ever-present-for-this-winter Hudson Bay vortex drags a piece of the storm across the Continental Divide while leaving the remaining piece to meander westward to Utah and eventually Nevada. It does appear another piece of energy will keep lighter snows going until noon after which they become more showery before ending around sunset. I would expect another 2-4” during the very cool day which will be reported on the Wednesday morning report.
After a cool start Wednesday morning, a quick warm up lasting into Thursday is forecast as the west coast ridge tries to rebuild over our area. However, a Pacific wave traveling over this ridge will phase with the storm left to our south and west later Thursday forcing the complex east of the Continental Divide by Friday. Models initially had some precipitation from that Pacific wave for Friday, but current trends are pointing towards a dryer solution.
The ridge rebuilds for possibly another stellar weekend, but lots of uncertainty with the forecast for next week as more Pacific energy interacts with the west coast ridge.
Friday, March 7, 2014
The Steamboat ski area reported 2” mid / 1” top this morning, and the 11 am report had an additional 2” mid / 2.5” top. Light snow should continue today and taper off this evening as a lobe of energy passes over the area early this afternoon. I expect 3-7” to be reported by Saturday morning before skies clear.
A transient ridge then builds over our area for the weekend bringing beautiful sunny and warm spring-like weather, likely lasting through Monday. The next Pacific storm is very similar to the current one and affects our area by Tuesday. However, some cold air rotating around the persistent Hudson Bay vortex is forecast to phase with this storm around Monday creating a colder and more dynamic system. The evolution of this storm will be very dependent upon the amount of cold air entrained, and details should become clearer as we move closer to the event.
Current forecasts have light snow starting as early as Tuesday morning and intensifying during the day as the storm moves closer. This storm again splits around us by Tuesday night, but snow or snow showers are likely to continue through the day Wednesday. A break in snow will occur on Thursday before another fast moving wave is forecast to bring showers into our area by late Friday.
Wednesday, March 5, 2014
The Steamboat ski area reported 3” mid / 5” top this morning, though once again the 5am phone report was not available until the 9am update. This also happened on Jan. 1st, which was another Wednesday, and this points to snow reporter Kelly not doing his job!
I believe Laurie does the morning report Sunday - Tuesday, and she is excellent in providing consistent and timely reports. Kelly is responsible for midweek and Mike also is relatively consistent in his reports to finish out the week. But Kelly not only occasionally fails to update the report, but often is late compared to the others when it is eventually recorded. I think he needs to set a couple of alarms 45 minutes earlier!
With that off my chest, the storm forecast for Friday has accelerated a bit, though the split is still likely to occur. Precipitation is now forecast to begin Thursday late in the day or evening and continue through Friday before ending early Saturday. Details are still changing as a it is not yet clear how much energy passes over us as compared to west of us. I still expect 3-6” during the day Friday, but 1-4” may fall overnight Thursday for the Friday morning report. Perhaps another several inches for Friday night will lead to a 4-8” report for Saturday morning.
Skies should rapidly clear Saturday morning leading to a warmer and sunny Saturday afternoon and Sunday. The next very similar storm is forecast to produce precipitation over our area as early as Tuesday and continuing through the day Wednesday.
There is a fair bit of uncertainty in the long-range models for the weather that occurs after next weeks midweek storm. The European model keeps a progressive flow over our area with another storm timed for the end of the week while the American model tends to build the west coast ridge with a much weaker end-of-week storm.
Tuesday, March 4, 2014
A well-defined but quick moving wave will allow periods of moderate snowfall to develop late this afternoon and last through the evening. Snows will lighten and turn showery around midnight, but continue into the early morning hours before ending. I expect 4-8” of snow by Wednesday morning before skies mostly clear and temperatures warm for later Wednesday and Thursday.
Another stronger and more organized wave creates heavy precipitation starting along the northwest coast Wednesday and affects our area by Thursday night. However, current model forecasts have this wave splitting as it moves over our area, and model trends indicate the bulk of the storm may pass west and then south of us. Nonetheless, precipitation will begin early Friday and last through Saturday, but due to the splitting flow, I might expect only 3-6” during Friday which will be reported Saturday morning. An additional 1-3” may fall during the day Saturday before a transient ridge containing warm and dry air moves over our area for Sunday.
Another very similar storm may affect our area early the following week, though this one may have more cold air associated with it as it phases with another wave from the north rotating around the ever-present-for-this-winter Hudson Bay vortex. This storm currently is forecast to produce significant precipitation for our area from Tuesday through Thursday of next week, though that forecast is dependent upon the amount of splitting the storm endures as it moves over our area.