Friday, January 17, 2014
The last new snow that fell was during the day Tuesday, but temperatures in the single digits during the night and twenties during the day have kept the snowpack in peak condition. I was up on Wednesday for the leftovers, which were great, but I brought my narrower boards today since I figured the snow would lend itself to a carve-ier ski.
First run, as usual, was down the upper part of Closet and then a traverse into Shadows. Closet was great with the snow soft and grippy, and there were even patches of unskied powder that was still soft and deep. The sun was starting to make the the snow thicker and heavier in Shadows, so I retreated back to skier’s right to find terrain with less of a southern aspect. The low sun angle this time of year really helps to preserve snow quality. so most things tilted west of due south remain very good.
Then into Lower Shadows where the ridgeline on skier’s left also skied great, especially if you can plan to turn where other’s haven’t!. Next run was a ripper down the Sundown lifline which skied soft and consistent. Short, medium or long radius turns - it didn’t matter as the snow allowed you to ski however you wanted.
Next run was in the 3:30 trees, but I found this to boarded out - by which I mean that several snowboarders have evidently turned in similar places making huge ruts in tight trees that made the skiing inconsistent. So I ambled over the 3 O’Clock and found the right side just off the grooming track to hold more great carveable snow. I then took Duster for another run down Lower Shadows, but noticed Patrol had dropped the rope on the left side of Lower Shadows recently, maybe even today. There were several very steep but short southern aspect lines that held very consistent but deep, heavy untracked powder. I traversed to the right to regain the ridge and the colder snow before getting dumped back into the lifline.
Last run up top was upper Closet and over to Typhoon. Lots of soft snow, and even some untracked in the tighter lines, and that skied great. Then, a couple of runs over in the Why Not trees that skied as well as anything up top.
It looks like we are in a dry spell for at least the next week, and models are struggling mightily with a pattern change advertised for around next weekend, so get the snow now while its at its freshest.
Monday, January 13, 2014
The Steamboat ski area reported 8” mid and 10” up top at 5am this morning, with about 2” of that coming overnight. Additionally, another 2.5” has fallen between 5am and 9am and it is currently lightly snowing.
The storm yesterday disappointed as a stabilizing and warming airmass not only stopped the snowfall that I expected to continue, but allowed winds to rake the ski area. By 1pm yesterday, much of the upper mountain had wind affected snow and skiing was not that great.
Another subtle wave in moist northwest flow passes over the area tonight, increasing snowfall again. The atmosphere should gradually cool through tomorrow afternoon keeping light snow showers going on the hill even as the valleys see some sun. I would expect 4-8” to be reported in the Tuesday morning report and 1-4” on the Wednesday morning report, all of which will occur during the day Tuesday.
The snows then stop for an extended period as the atmosphere warms and dries as the west coast ridge builds over our area. A grazing cool and dry wave to our northeast on Thursday will knock temperatures down a bit, but it appears the ridge and its associated warm and dry weather will continue through most of next weekend. Mountain slopes will substantially warm, though valleys will be on the cool side as temperature inversions reform and persist.
Sunday, January 12, 2014
Snows did not start until almost report time this morning, about 4 hours later than I had been anticipating. However, the Steamboat magic DID occur as scheduled, with 6” of snow falling between 5am and 9am. Temperatures at Storm Peak Lab fell from about 21F to the current 9F during this time while winds have increased from the northwest and currently average about 28mph with gusts to 45mph up top.
We are currently in moist northwest flow that is now expected to last through much of Tuesday, though snow amounts will be minimal by the end of that day. Since we have already received 7” of snow at mid as of 11am, and I expect periods of moderate to heavy snow to continue through today and especially this evening, I would expect a report tomorrow morning between 10” and 20”. This is consistent with yesterdays forecast of 6”-12” if the 4”-8” I expected by this mornings report is shifted to Monday mornings report.
Snow will continue through Monday with varying intensities, producing another 4-8” by Tuesday morning. Then, snow showers are expected to continue on the hill Tuesday as a trailing wave passes over the area, even as the valleys see some sun. Only 1-4” of new snow is expected during the day Tuesday as the airmass stabilizes and dries.
The west coast ridge is expected to build over our area in earnest on Wednesday, interrupted by a grazing cool and dry wave to our northeast on Thursday. It appears the ridge and its associated warm and dry weather will continue through most of next weekend, keeping mountain slopes warm but valleys cold as temperature inversions reform and persist. Model disagreements by the end of next weekend create uncertainty in the longer range forecast.
Saturday, January 11, 2014
You could take today and place it in April, except for the low sun angle! The difference between today and yesterday was shocking as base temperatures warmed to almost 40F while the top warmed from 14F yesterday afternoon to 24F this afternoon. I believe the wind last night carried the warm air into the snowpack and made the top several inches or half foot heavy and sluggish. This seemed true everywhere in Shadows as the shady aspects skied very similar to the sunny aspects. Still deep pockets of the storm total from the last few days, but these had to be skied deliberately and powerfully.
The trees off of Rolex skied better, though the evergreens in the upper half skied better than the more open Aspen on the lower half. After popping out of the trees, I enjoyed great soft packed powder on the sides of the trail. In fact, that was so good that my last run up top was down Twister below Four Points, and the left side skied great. The snow got heavier and less skied near the bottom, but still good consistent skiing.
I was thinking the lower mountain powder would be even heavier due to the warmer temperatures, but I was wrong! After skiing a very pleasant soft and carveable Lower Vagabond, I noticed some skiers in the powder under the Thunderhead lift kicking up some powder snow, which was NOT happening up top. I figured a poke into the Why Not trees was worth the effort, and I was very pleasantly surprised to find the heavy layer missing. The snow skied a bit heavy since it was so warm, but deep and consistent through the entire turn depth. I had a few minutes before the bus, so I hopped on Christy and ripped some soft GS turns down Sitz and See Ya that left huge trenches in the packed powder. Really fun skiing on a beautiful sunny day!
We are back to winter sometime around midnight tonight, with snow lasting through Monday and maybe even Tuesday before the sun and another false spring returns starting midweek.
Another 9” of snow was reported at mid and top this morning, and skies have partially cleared and temperatures have warmed. The last trough in this very impressive storm cycle arrives around midnight tonight, leading to falling temperatures and moderate to heavy snows. I still expect 4-8” for the morning report, but I expect some Steamboat magic during the morning hours, with lighter but still sometimes moderate snow continuing through Monday as additional impulses of energy periodically increase snowfall rates. I’m raising my initial 4-8” by Monday morning to 6-12”, with still an additional 3-6” during the day and overnight Monday that will be reported Tuesday morning.
Snow showers may hang on for some of Tuesday on the hill, even as the valleys see some sun by the afternoon. The atmosphere then warms and dries as the west coast ridge bring gorgeous weather to our area, though a dry and grazing wave will cool temperatures a bit for Thursday and may bring some high clouds.
We should have a stretch of continuing beautiful days as the ridge is currently forecast to dominate our weather through the early part of the next workweek. Models then struggle with how energy from the Pacific interacts with the ridge, so the forecast for midweek will have to wait until models resolve their differences.