Pictures are embedded in this report, and also available at:
After a minor snowstorm on Friday followed by a sunny weekend with winter-like conditions on Saturday and more spring-like conditions on Sunday, the last day of March 2008 saw a return to snowfall with the approach of another small storm. I headed in to Burlington on Monday morning, and at around 9:00 A.M. it started to snow there. I sent in an update on the snowfall to EasternUSwx.com about an hour later:
“I’m currently in Burlington, where we’ve had moderate to occasionally heavy snow driven by a strong south wind for about the last hour. The snow is flying by my window fast enough that it is difficult to get a read on the flake size, but the flakes look to be in the 0.5 to 1 cm range. It’s also cold enough at this point that the snow is accumulating on all surfaces (grass, untreated pavement, cars) here at UVM (elevation 380’). There appears to be ¼ to ½ inch of accumulation out there so far.”
The Burlington snowfall eventually slowed down, and with relatively warm temperatures achieved in the Champlain Valley, the new snow that had accumulated on the ground had generally disappeared by later in the day. However, we did retain some accumulation in Waterbury, as I found when I recorded snowfall and weather observations that evening:
New Snow: 1.9 inches
Liquid Equivalent: 0.24 inches
Ratio: 7.9 to 1
Snow Density: 12.6% H2O
Temperature: 35.6 F
Barometer: 30.33 in Hg
Cumulative storm snow total: 1.9 inches
Cumulative storm liquid total: 0.24 inches
Current snow at the stake: 24 inches
Season snowfall total: 201.6 inches
“It wasn’t snowing when I left the house in Waterbury (495’) this morning at around 6:00 A.M., nor in Burlington when I arrived there, but at around 8:00 A.M. or so I watched the clouds drop on the Green Mountain spine, and soon tendrils of snowfall appeared around the peaks. At roughly 9:00 A.M., snow started to fall in Burlington, and it came down moderately for much of the morning driven by a strong south wind. It appears as though most surfaces in my area of UVM (380’) accumulated perhaps a slushy inch, but the snow shut off in the afternoon and any accumulation had disappeared by the time I left at around 5:00 P.M. It was actually cool and windy when I departed Burlington, cooler than I’d thought it would be based on the way I’d seen the snow disappear. Still, after what I’d seen in Burlington, I didn’t expect to find much accumulation at our place in Waterbury since we’re at a similar elevation. I dozed off on the bus ride home, but I don’t recall seeing any accumulation in the Richmond park and ride area (300’). I woke up when we were in the mountains approaching Waterbury, and the world was much whiter despite no substantial elevation changes. I began to think we might have actually retained some accumulating snow at the house. At the Waterbury park and ride (500’) there was about an inch of wet snow on my car, so I knew we’d have something at the house. On an interesting weather-related aside, the woman getting into her car next to me seemed very annoyed to find that snow had accumulated during the day (perhaps thinking spring was on the way after yesterday’s sunny, warm weather), and said out loud to no one in particular “I don’t like this snow!” I managed to refrain from making any sort of comment, but it wasn’t easy. Back at the house I found 1.9 inches of accumulated snow on the old snowpack, although the snow on the snowboard had settled down to around an inch due to the temperature. This spring there have been a couple of marginal occasions where the elevated snowboard has actually suppressed potential snowfall totals when temperatures are marginal, and I’ve had to use the ground or old snowpack. So, next season I’m going to try to make sure I’ve got a snow surface board as well for those events. Fortunately, in these types of occasions my regular snowboard has still worked well for getting a core sample. My wife said that she though they’d had a bit more snow (perhaps 2 to 3 inches of accumulation) where she was in Morrisville (650’) although it was hard to tell with the way the snow was settling as the day wore on. On a seasonal accumulations note, this event did bring us past the 200-inch mark here in Waterbury according the measurements I’ve made using NWS-style intervals. In terms of the local ski areas, the highest accumulation I’ve seen from this event was 4 inches at Smuggler’s Notch Resort.”
I didn’t get out to ski in the fresh snow from that event, but it did mark a big milestone in my Waterbury snowfall records for the season because we passed the 200-inch accumulation mark. We followed the snowfall up with another stretch of sunny spring weather during the middle of the week, and on Thursday I had a chance to head up to the mountain again. After an appointment with the dentist at 2:00 P.M., I was driving down Main Street in Waterbury, and as I looked down the end of the street all I could see were blue skies and mountains full of snow. It was like one of those classic shots that they always show of certain ski towns with the snowy mountains looming over the street. The view wasn’t quite as dramatic as shots I’ve seen from places like say, Telluride, but it was pretty obvious and I really wished that I’d had one of my cameras handy because it would have made a great shot. I contemplated grabbing my camera from the house and getting the shot before heading up for skiing, but it was already 3:00 P.M. and if I was going to squeeze in any lift-served runs before the lifts shut down I was going to have to get moving.
The valley temperature was probably well into the 40s F as I headed to the mountain, and by the time I reached the Vista Summit (3,150’) it was somewhere in the 30s F at that elevation. For my first run I took a gentle Sherman’s Pass and connected down to Beech Seal. That route had awesome corn snow that made for great turns. I had ridden the lift with a woman who after apparently skiing rather occasionally, was getting more serious about her skiing. She was having a lot of fun out on the slopes working on her technique, and enjoying the convenience and vibe of Bolton Valley. We had a good conversation about the resort’s many attributes.
By the time I hit the Vista summit on my next lift ride it was already after 4:00 P.M. Since it would be my last run I took my time there and enjoyed the views. To the north, the alpine regions of Mansfield were looking quite dramatic with the remains of winter’s snows clinging to the peaks. There were still almost 100 inches of snow at the stake, but I could see how the southern and eastern slopes had started to become melted out by the spring weather.
For my descent I started out with the same route that I’d done earlier, and I actually checked out the snow on Spillway as I passed above it since I was keen to get a nice spring run on there. For some reason, the snow on Spillway just hadn’t seemed to soften. I’m not sure if the snow was just too dense or compacted from wind, but it hadn’t turned to corn like many of the other trails. Perhaps Spillway needed somewhat warmer temperatures that just 30s F to really soften up. I switched things up a bit and skied New Sherman’s Pass, but ended up back on Beech Seal again because the turns had been so good there. For the outing my Avocet altimeter recorded 2,060’ of descent and my Suunto recorded 2,054’ of descent for a difference of just 0.3%. On my way back down the access road, I could see that several cars were lined up along the snow at the Timberline base; no doubt these vehicles belonged to various folks out earning their turns for the afternoon shift. It was tempting to stay and earn another run, but I knew dinner would soon be calling.
Pictures from the day are also available at:
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