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Outstanding skiing this afternoon

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Well, the storm did end up cooperating as the 1pm 24 hour report was 10” at mid and snowing. Added to the 2” yesterday morning means a foot, and they likely picked up an additional inch or so after 1pm as it snowed till about 3 or so. At that point the sun made an appearance creating stunning vistas!

I passed on pressing glass this morning as there was only 5” overnight, and since we had a period of time with westerly winds, I was thinking the snow would be wind-affected and difficult to ski. However, heavy snow showers started this morning when the wind switched to the northwest and I believe these filled in all of the uneveness.

The first clue was the flat pitch in the trees off the top of Storm Peak Express and Highline which skied soft, powdery and bouncy. Skiing remained that way as the pitch steepened down though Closet and over to Shadows to Lower Shadows. I measured between 14” and 16” of snow in the favored areas, with about the bottom half of that depth showing wind affects.

That was so good I repeated with slightly different lines through Shadows and Lower Shadows. Then over to the Twilight area which also skied great. Then over to the trees around Rolex which also held more of the same.

Last run on the upper hill was a ripping run down most of Sundown lifline. This did not have the depth of new snow, however the surface was burnished by the wind creating a consistent, soft and bouncy surface. Over to the newly opend terrain under the the old Priest Creek chair below Duster to find pockets of deep bottomless turns.

I then took a couple of runs in the trees off of Why Not above BC Skiway on the lower mountain, but there is a lot of downed timber and shrubbery in there and more snow is needed. But I found great deep consistent powder while dodging the obstacles nonetheless.

Snow likely late Friday into Saturday

I had about 4” on my deck this morning, which matched the 7” mid and 6” top Steamboat phone report (when it FINALLY came out at 8am, EXTREMELY LATE WITH NO APOLOGY OR EXPLANATION) after subtracting the 2” we received during the day yesterday.

I was disappointed we accumulated only a reported 0.25” between 5am and 9am as I was counting on an additional 2-4”, but this storm did not cooperate. Snow showers will continue today before skies clear for Thursday and some of Friday as mountain slopes warm.

High clouds will infiltrate the area by later Friday as the next storm approaches. Snow showers will begin late in the day or evening before intensifying during the day Saturday. The European model has been most consistent in for forecasting a wetter and cooler pattern, and the American models seem to be grudgingly moving toward that solution. If the European solution verifies, snow showers may continue through Sunday as another wave of cool air moves over the area. At this point, model uncertainty is too high to predict snow amounts.

Some clearing should ensue by the beginning of the new workweek before a disorganized wave approaching from the west moves over the area around midweek.

Snow on track for Tuesday into Wednesday

Monday, December 30, 2013

The latest model runs have thrown some uncertainty into the short term forecast, especially for Wednesday morning, as one of the American models have brought the last wave for Wednesday morning across the area stronger than earlier forecast. What is more certain, however, is that there will be two main periods of snow occurring around mid-morning Tuesday and again after midnight Tuesday, with much lighter snow or even a break later Tuesday afternoon into the evening.

My gut feeling is to believe the snowier solution, so I might expect 6-12” by Wednesday afternoon for both storms. The lack of cold air will limit accumulations during the day Tuesday so that only 2-4” are expected by sunset, with an additional 4-8” early Wednesday morning into the early afternoon.

Snow showers will end Wednesday evening and mountain slopes should warm for Thursday and Friday with periods of sun. Another storm approaches the area for the weekend and light snow should begin again Friday night. Forecasts from a week ago had this wave heralding a pattern change to very cold temperatures, however current model trends keep this wave progressive and limit snowfall to only light amounts by Saturday morning with seasonably cool air.

It appears the sun returns later Saturday into Sunday morning as the west coast ridge rebuilds, forcing the storminess to our east. There is a lot of forecast uncertainty after that as the Gulf of Alaska ridge is forecast to either break down or be undercut by westerly Pacific flow for a period of time.

Snow Tuesday and again around the weekend

Sunday, December 29, 2013

A weak and dry wave will brush by our area on Monday leading to only cloudiness. Another wave in northwest flow should be far more productive forcing snow to begin Tuesday morning, however the absence of cold air will limit the big accumulations during the day. The last shortwave moving through the northwest flow will bring colder air early Wednesday morning, but this time the moisture is limited, though snow showers should will likely continue through the morning. A small shift to the north or south would change the forecast, but currently I expect 4-8” by noon Wednesday before a transient ridge moves over the area bringing some sun for Wednesday aftternoon and a sunny day for Thursday.

Showers will begin again Friday ahead of a much colder and more significant system that is currently forecast to sweep through the area Saturday. Earlier model solutions had this wave beginning a long-lasting pattern shift, but current model runs have the Gulf of Alaska ridge rebuilding and forcing the coldest air to slide to our east.

A cold and snowy weekend will then be followed by warming and drying early in the next workweek as the Gulf of Alaska ridge expands over our area.

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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