Bolton Valley, VT 02FEB2008


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As we verged on February, the next winter weather event of interest in our area was a strong frontal passage.  It didn’t sound like it was going to represent much in the way of winter precipitation for the bulk of the northeast, but accumulation was expected in the northern areas, prompting a small discussion on  As I’d find out, the passage of the cold front also turned out to be dramatic enough in Northern Vermont to cause some school closings.


On Wednesday, January 30th, the front came through the Burlington area around 11:00 A.M., and I reported my observations through the afternoon and into the evening followed by a summary and my recorded observations at 6:30 P.M.:


11:15 A.M.


3:25 P.M.


6:30 P.M.


The next winter weather event on tap started just a couple of days later on Friday, February 1st.  This event was a bigger, with enough potential moisture (more than an inch of liquid equivalent) to really add to the snowpack, and it started a more substantial discussion thread at  I headed in to work in Burlington for the morning, and made some comments about the storm’s progress from there starting at around 8:30 A.M.:


“I'm reporting from Burlington (VT) at this point, but I'll be in Waterbury later today for observations from there barring any major travel issues.


8:30 A.M.


8:40 A.M. – “First flakes here in Burlington. That didn't take long, I had just finished posting my previous message when I took a look outside and saw the first few stray flakes of snow floating down.”


11:30 A.M.


1:06 P.M. – “Just heard the first sleet here in Burlington on my office window.  My plan is to head to Waterbury before things get too nasty on the roads; so my next update will hopefully be from there.”


I headed home to Waterbury, and at 2:00 P.M. I was able to make my first observations from there:


My next set of observations was six hours later at 8:00 P.M.:


“We’ve had just snow and some sleet so far here; there hasn’t been any sort of rain or icing.  Walking around out in the yard, it looks like the snow surface would actually be quite good for skiing, akin to what James reported from Mad River Glen today.  I’m not sure if the same thing has been going on in the higher elevations in this area though.  The snow and sleet we’ve had at the house has really added some substantial mass to the snowpack.  Just two inches of accumulation have already smoothed out the snow surfaces around here equivalent to probably a half a foot or more of snow, and I had to remake all my footpaths to the snowboard and snow stake areas.  It sounds like there’s still the potential for some icing this evening before we go back to snow, so we’ll see what happens.  I’ve pasted my 8:00 P.M. weather observations below.”


Friday, February 1st, 2008:  8:00 P.M. update from Waterbury, VT.


New Snow:  0.8 inches (mostly sleet)

Temperature:  29.3 F

Humidity:  81%

Barometer:  28.76 in Hg

Wind:  Calm

Sky:  Cloudy

Cumulative storm total:  2.1 inches

Current snow at the stake:  14 inches

Season snowfall total:  115.7 inches


I was awake in the middle of the night and it happened to be the appropriate time for a six-hour interval in snowfall accumulation, so I made observations again:


Saturday, February 2nd, 2008:  2:00 A.M. update from Waterbury, VT.


New Snow:  0.6 inches

Temperature:  32.5 F

Humidity:  98%

Barometer:  28.44 in Hg

Wind:  Calm

Sky:  Light Snow

Cumulative storm total:  2.7 inches

Current snow at the stake:  14 inches

Season snowfall total:  116.3 inches


“I woke up to bring one of the boys back to bed, and it happened to be time for another weather reading, so I looked outside and noticed it was snowing.  I’m not sure if we got in on the rain/freezing rain or not since when I headed to bed we were just getting sleet.  There is a bit of a crust on our snowpack now however, so something may have happened before we returned to snow.  The crust isn’t very strong, but the top layer of the snowpack is no longer loose like it was when I last checked.  The composition of the latest 0.6” accumulation on the snowboard was a little light snow on top of what looked like consolidated wet snow and sleet.  I’ll look around in the morning and see if there was any glazing around here.  Based on the radar, I can see a slug of snow in upstate New York that appears to be heading this way, so maybe I’ll have some additional snow accumulation to report in the morning.”


I woke up around 6:30 A.M. in the morning and checked the snowboard to find a fresh 1.3 inches of snow, bringing our valley snowfall accumulation to an even 4.0 inches for the event at that point.  The snow was coming down pretty hard at that time as well with some big (~1 cm) fluffy flakes, and the radar suggested that there was additional snow on the way, so I was encouraged about the potential for some great skiing.  I made my next weather observations at 8:00 A.M.:


Saturday, February 2nd, 2008:  8:00 A.M. update from Waterbury, VT.


New Snow:  1.5 inches

Temperature:  27.5 F

Humidity:  89%

Barometer:  28.70 in Hg

Wind:  ~5 MPH

Sky:  Partly Cloudy

Cumulative storm total:  4.2 inches

Current snow at the stake:  16 inches

Season snowfall total:  117.8 inches


“We had some 30-35 db composite radar returns come over the house this morning that coincided with fairly heavy snowfall, although that was only for about 10 to 15 minutes.  We didn’t have any obvious icing here, although if I walk up and closely inspect our trees, there is a very light glaze on them under the latest round of snow.  It’s quite windy, and one of those days where I can hear the wind howling up in the terrain above us, even though there’s very little wind reaching the yard.  E and I just went out to determine if we wanted to shovel the driveway or use the snow thrower for this event, and after a couple of test scoops it was obvious.  Even though the accumulation from this event is only 4.2 inches, there’s a full-size storm packed in there.  E took a full shovel scoop in her test and it was very heavy.  Combined with the fact that there is a crusty layer in there somewhere, it’s going to be nice to have the snow thrower grind it up.  It will be interesting to see what liquid equivalent values come out of this storm – but it certainly made a solid contribution to the snowpack.  Yesterday morning my reading from the snow stake in the yard was 12 inches, and today it’s 16 inches.  That means that we’ve had essentially no settling in the accumulation we got from this event, which definitely isn’t what I see most of the time.”


The morning sky had cleared out beautifully after the storm, and the new snow had put a nice coating on the trees, so I headed out into the yard to get some pictures.  Although I hadn’t seen any obvious icing during the storm, there was a thin glaze below the recent snow that suggested a touch of liquid precipitation had fallen at some point.  The lower couple inches of our accumulation from the storm was very dense, and from other local reports it was evident that we had added more than an inch of liquid equivalent to our snowpack between the sleet and snow we’d received.  I’m sure it would have been nice to have all that precipitation as all snow, but it still wound up being a decent resurfacing storm for the slopes.  Our plan was to take it easy and get some things done around the house on Saturday, and then bring the boys up to the mountain for some skiing on Sunday.  But, with the fresh snow and beautiful weather, we still headed out with the boys for some snowshoeing on our trails in the morning.  The snowpack in our yard had gotten a nice boost from the recent storm, and after a rather slow January, the 16-inch reading at our back yard stake was the highest it had been in about a month.


Eventually, I found myself with some spare time in the afternoon, so I decided to head up to the mountain for a couple of runs.  Inspired by a recent Telemark/AT thread on SkiVT-L, I decided to pull out my Telemark gear for the outing.  It had been a few years since I’d done any free-heel skiing at an alpine area, but E and I had pieced together a couple of nice Telemark setups by visiting all the local ski swaps in the fall, and I was anxious to feel that Telemark vibe again.  It was going to feel good to have some of that fresh fluff washing over my dropped knee; that was one of the coolest sensations I noted the first time I made Telemark turns back in January of 2002.


I headed up to the Timberline area, arriving at around 2:30 P.M. to a temperature of 28 F in the parking lot (~1,550’).  Any wind that had accompanied the recent storm had certainly dissipated, although the clear skies of the morning had clouded over and the higher peaks were lost in the clouds.  The cloud deck did give a very cool look to the Winooski Valley and the Camel’s Hump massif as it disappeared skyward.  Up at the Timberline summit, I noticed a neat piece of artwork featuring the poles that had been broken off at the Timberline mid station.  It reminded me a bit of the sort of “outsider art” that Homer Simpsons would make.  Up at that elevation (~2,500’), I found about 3 to 4 inches of new powder off to the sides of the trails, which was enough to at least get my dropped knees down in the powder at times.  I opted to take the easy route of Villager and Timberline Run, which let me get the feel of making Telemark turns again, while offering plenty of powder shots off the edges of the trail.  I definitely found myself giggling a couple of times with the fun of slicing Telemark carves through powder.  At one point I realized that I’d forgotten my knee pads, but fortunately I was being careful and didn’t hit any objects underneath the powder.


We’d been in need of a resurfacing storm in the area, and although our Friday/Saturday system hadn’t been two feet of powder, the Mansfield stake data did confirm that it threw over an inch of liquid equivalent into the snowpack as I’d suspected.  The groomed surfaces I skied were very nice with all the new dense material that had been laid down.  There were a few scratchy areas on the trails, where traffic had pushed away the new snow, and off trail I found that there was a crusty base if you bottomed out.  I personally never hit anything steeper than a blue, or perhaps easy black pitch below Sure Shot, but from what I saw, the steepest terrain still wasn’t in prime form.  However, it did look like the dense frozen precipitation helped to cover up some of the wind-scoured and rockier areas on those slopes.


I was pretty satisfied after a couple of runs, having gotten a bit of exercise and reminded my legs of what Telemark turns required of them.  So, by about 3:30 P.M. I was on my way home.  The altimeters had both recorded two runs, with the Avocet indicating 2,070’ of descent and the Suunto indicating 2,037’ of descent for a difference of 1.6%.  I didn’t get a chance to check Bolton’s snow report that day, but I remembered to check it the next morning and found that they were indicating 6 inches of new snow.  There hadn’t been too much snowfall beyond Saturday, so the report had to be indicating their snowfall from the Friday/Saturday system that had brought us the 4.2 inches down at the house.  Based on what I’d seen at Timberline at the 2,500’ mark, 6 inches of new snow sounded reasonable if they had measured up above 3,000’ near the summits of the higher lifts.  Scott Braaten had posted some snowfall numbers to SkiVT-L with Stowe reporting 7 inches in that time frame, so that seemed fairly consistent with what Bolton reported as well.


A few pictures from the day can be found at:




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