Scott ---

We need a CoCoRahs snow observer up there. Someone who goes up regularly at least wintertime for comparison purposes.

I cannot speak for the stake measurement, but I've seen this for what 20 years. I think it has a lot to do with wind packing/blowing and certainly location, especially 20:1 snow to water ratios wind fluff.

Would you or anyone else on this list volunteer to measure snow (sucky job) unless you are really dedicated?


-----Original Message-----
From: Vermont Skiing Discussion and Snow Reports [mailto:[log in to unmask]] On Behalf Of Scott Braaten
Sent: Sunday, February 20, 2011 11:19 AM
To: [log in to unmask]
Subject: [SKIVT-L] Hey they got one right! (Stake measurements)

I can count the times on one hand where I've actually thought the stake
"NEW" snow measurement was correct this season.  Yesterday's 4" sounds right
given that I had 2.3" total down in the village.

SXUS51 KBTV 192232
532 PM EST SAT FEB 19 2011

                   24 HRS   MAX MIN CUR   WEATHER     NEW TOTAL SWE
MOUNT MANSFIELD     0.31    39  -4  -4                4.0  70

Last Tuesday when I reported 2-4" and I was wrong (see "Deeper and Better
than Expected" trip report), everyone at the mountain ribbed me that I
must've been using the Stake method of take new snow and divide by 2.

Let me preface this next section by saying what is being discussed is only
the "NEW" snowfall.  No one has any issue with the actual stake snow depth
reading because it is what it is.  The "NEW" snowfall this year has been
particularly "off" in my opinion and as it turns out, I'm not the only one
who thinks that.

I had a phone discussion last week with the guy who measures up there, Fred
L., and it was a very interesting discussion.  Tony Crocker from contacted him saying that his snowfall measurements couldn't
possibly be correct, as the Mansfield stake recorded like 1/3rd of what
every northern VT ski area had, and it less snow than the Burlington
airport.  At the time, we at SMR, had measured about 3x what the stake had
recorded as far as "new" snowfall.  Fred also mentioned "some guy in
Waterbury" who says the Stake is wrong because he usually records more snow
than the Mansfield cooperative observer does (I'd assume he was talking
about J.Spin).   

We discussed that storm around Groundhog/Woodchuck Wednesday where I
measured 15" from the Barnes Camp snowboard, and ski patrol measured 17" at
the High Road.  He said that he couldn't believe the ski area reported
15-17" and that it must've been in a drift.  I informed him that no, it was
off of two snow boards and I send him pictures of them both.  It was also
measured by two different people (me at the base, ski patroller Spike at the
top) and the totals matched up nicely.  Further more, he tried to say that
the town of Stowe only got 7" which matched the 7" he found at the summit of
Mansfield.  There were two reports of 12-13" in Stowe village from that
storm, which would match with 15" and 17" higher up.  I also couldn't figure
out how snow falling in town would be equal to what falls over 3,000ft
higher.  He said there isn't as much of a difference as people think between
the lower elevations and the higher elevations... and seemed to give me the
impression that its not uncommon for him to get more new snow at his house
in Essex (or some place like that) than what he finds at the top of
Mansfield.  Now, there must be something funky going on, or else high winds
just really don't allow for snow to actually land on the ground at the
Engineers Station.  

I also questioned him on a couple of days the previous week when the upper
mountain got a surprise 4-5" overnight one night, and 3" the next night. 
This was when Matt B. was staying at the hut and JJ and Josh witnessed the
second night's surprise snow.  Refer to this post:

On that day at 3,000ft we had 4" new snow, probably was closer to 5" up at
3,600ft+.  It was classic, upslope fluff with very low water content snow. 
The stake report for that day had less than a 10:1 ratio when in fact this
stuff was probably 40-50:1 no-resistance fluff.  This day perplexed me the
most because Jimmy and I hiked up the Toll Road at like 3pm in fluff that
was deep enough to cover previous tracks.  Jim was staying at the Stone Hut
that night and we skied right up until the end of the day, lapping the woods
off the upper Toll Road because the new snow was deepest there (in the
vicinity of the stake).  

Now, I know the upper Toll Road was groomed the night before by SMR and
there was at least 5" now covering the groomed surface (at 3pm).  So whoever
reported the 0.5" of new snow that day for the Stake, had to have
snowmobiled through 5" of fluff to do the stake reading.  I cannot figure
out where in that process this breaks down to only a half inch of new
snow... unless someone fudged up with the decimal point that day.  There has
to be some point at which you are like, hmm, there's only 1/2" of snow in
the measuring cylinder, but that's odd because I just walked through shin
deep snow on the previously groomed Toll Road.

Next exhibit would be this past Monday when I skied with Scotty D.  Both of
us went into the High Road stake so I could reset the snow board, and found
around 3/4ths of an inch of new snow from overnight.  That gets rounded to
1" (I actually reported 0" of new snow that day, as I like to run
conservative on the SMR snow report) but lets say it was 0.8".  I mentioned
to Scott Danis (as the witness) that under no circumstances should the stake
today come in with less than 0.8", especially since it snowed more on the
upper mountain that afternoon and added another half an inch of graupel-like
snow.  Sure enough, Monday night, the report comes in with only 0.5".

Now Fred claims he thinks they are doing everything right and sometimes take
a mix of the change in stake snow depth and what's in their measuring can to
get to the "NEW" number.  Increase in snow depth and new snowfall are
mutually exclusive, but also doesn't account for when the stake rises more
inches than they report new snow.  I mentioned that wind must be effecting
the snow that falls in the measuring can.  He said its not as windy as
people think and the snow often falls straight down, but when it is windy,
they have these rings around the can that are supposed to block the wind and
allow the flakes to fall straight into the can.  I've seen this set-up
elsewhere and it does work.  But something is obviously a little screwy with
this whole thing.

I've been talking with the NWS in Burlington and they mentioned sending
their Senior Hydrologist out to look at our snow study plots.  They do
acknowledge that the stake's "NEW" readings can be puzzling, especially when
BTV starts regularly getting more snow than the top of Mansfield.  Fred said
he would be interested in seeing our snow board set-up as well, so I think
I'm going to try and schedule a meeting of the minds.  Maybe someone from
NWS BTV, Fred, myself, and ski patroller Spike should do a ski around and
visit our sites, as well as Fred's, and see if we can't all get on the same
page here.


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