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A stellar day for skiing

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Today was seasonably warm and sunny, with warmer temperatures on the hill than in the valley due to our cold mornings created by temperature inversions. The snow is still great! Usual first run down Closets into Shadows had soft snow that was a bit set up. Same for Lower Shadows below Duster in the northwest aspects, but found the best skiing in aspects tilted more to the south as the sun warmed the snow nicely.

The Sundown liftline and Kuus Cruise underneath the old Priest Creek double chair skied well, but again, the best skiing was in the sun softened snow of 3 O’Clock. Up the Elkhead lift and to Ted’s Ridge, which I also found to be a bit stiff as it got colder at lower elevations. A quick ride up Thunderhead brought me to the top of Heavenly Daze overlooking the South Valley and the setting sun, and the right side of the trail was in remarkably good condition. The lower mountain has good skiing as well, though the snow was colder and harder than the warmer higher elevations.

Nice today and tomorrow before unsettled weather for Thursday

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

A storm in the Gulf of Alaska is currently affecting the northwest. Energy will split as it moves west, with a piece of energy traveling south along the coast and another piece skirting to our north. We will be spared the coldest part of the approaching storm as most of the cold air slides north and east of us.

Tomorrow should be another nice day before clouds build ahead of the approaching storm later in the day. The wave to our southwest is forecast to eject some energy over our area late Wednesday night or early Thursday leading to some accumulating snows by Thursday afternoon in the 2-4” range.

Precipitation should let up later Thursday before a cold front approaches from the north late in the day. It does not appear there will be good overrunning around the front as the flow aloft is very weak in the vicinity of this split system. Generally unsettled weather with light snow of around 1-3” is expected.

Another wave approaches from the northwest early Saturday, and this one appears to have a slight split to it as well. Slightly heavier snowfall is expected with this cool push of air, though amounts are still expected to be light and in the range of 2-4” each day of the weekend. Temperatures should continue to cool through Sunday morning continuing the light snowfall.

Skies don’t look to clear until late Monday as we remain in cool and moist northwest flow. A nice Tuesday before another approaching storm influences our area mid-week.

Light snow tonight and then nice weather before snow near the end of next week

Saturday, December 14, 2013

A weak wave passes over us in northwest flow tonight, but there is minimal cool air associated with it so I would expect even lighter amounts tomorrow than the 2-4” that fell by this morning’s report. Skies should clear during the day ushering in a very pleasant week of warm and dry weather.

By midweek, a large storm enters the west coast of the US. Models are now trending towards splitting this storm as it moves over the Great Basin, sparing us from the coldest air of Big Blue. We will, however, experience a significant cold front currently timed for late Thursday as the northern portion of the wave passes through the area. Unfortunately, the southern portion of the wave is currently forecast too far south to affect our weather, and the event will be relatively short-lived as it ends by mid-day Friday.

The ridge in the Gulf of Alaska forcing the northwest flow over our area is forecast to build behind this passing storm before a Pacific wave is forecast to travel through it early in the following work week. This may bring colder temperatures and some snow, but the forecast is too far out for much confidence in that model solution.

Delightful afternoon of skiing

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Temperatures rose into the mid-20s at all elevations of the hill this afternoon in stark contrast to the -15F just three days ago! Combined with blue-bird skies, you couldn’t ask for more pleasant weather. Sundown lift opened today, along with Sunshine and South Peak and the rest of the terrain on the south side of the hill.

My interest was in Lower Shadows as that opened for the first time this season as well. It would have been nice if that could have been opened even a day earlier as the snow has become increasingly heavy as the temperatures rise. Still, large swaths of untracked powder were available at the end of the day, probably because the denser snow required strong turns executed with conviction. Definitely easier skiing for those inclined to ignore the untracked and ski where others have ‘groomed’ the terrain.

Great soft skiing on the Sundown lifline as well as Kruus Cruise, though you had to be careful just above Duster as rocks were poking through the snow. Ted’s Ridge on the lower mountain is starting to ski well, though the snow surface was still a bit uneven as it has not been groomed yet. But the groomed snow on Heavenly Daze is skiing great in these warmer temperatures.

Arctic surge likely to return near the end of next week

Mountain slopes have warmed nicely while the valleys remain cold while trapped in strong temperature inversions. In fact, warming temperatures aloft counter-intuitively strengthen lower-level inversions as vertical mixing in the lower levels is suppressed in the stabilizing airmass. The cold air in the valley bottoms then stays cold as the surface warming is minimized by the shallow sun angle and reflective snow surface.

There are some weak disturbances influencing our area starting tomorrow, though there is very little chance of significant accumulations. A wave to our south crosses too far south Friday morning for any snow, while another wave from the northwest is forecast to split as it moves over us later Friday, perhaps producing some light snow showers. Yet a third wave is forecast for early Sunday morning and that may produce a bit of snow as well.

Waves graze our area in warm and dry northwest flow Tuesday and Wednesday, but only a slight moderation of temperatures are expected. The developing story is the likely return near the end of the work week of Big Blue, the meteorological euphemism for an arctic outbreak similar to what we observed last week.

Lots of details are still to be resolved by the numerical models, but agreement between the models is trending stronger with this major cold and likely snowy pattern change near the end of next week.

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