First let’s just run through snow measuring real quick. If 3-5 feet is reported over a 4-5 day period that doesn’t mean the snow is going to be up to your neck when you get up on the mountain. The way that most of the resorts measure is using white boards or areas of packed down snow as a starting point before the snow falls. They then take a measurment twice a day, once in the morning and once in the evening. Between each measurement they clear the spot and start over. They will add together the 2 measurements that day for the 24hr snowfall total.
That is an acceptable method usable for data collection by the NWS. What that does however that is different than on the slope or in the trees is it eliminates things that happen to the snow over the course of time like settling and compression from snow piling on top. There is a different measurement for snowpack which is the settled snow on the ground. If you measure twice a day for 5 days, clearing the spot each time, and add it all together you get can get amounts of 4-5 feet. Meanwhile on the ground the snow has settled and compressed down to only 3 feet. The lighter the snow the more dramatic the difference can be. 5 feet of cement is not going to settle that much.
This weekend we had some rain in the middle which would have melted some snow from the first storm. Then you also have people tracking out the snow on their skis and boards. You always hear people denying the reported snow totals by the resorts saying that they didn’t see that many feet when they were there. You will never see us much as is reported for a several day total on the ground, only the overnight total with compressed snow underneath. Now I’m not nieve to the fact that some resorts might put some hype in their number for marketing purposes, but I have worked with a lot of them and gone through their methods and they are pretty legit. If you don’t believe it try it at home with the next storm cycle. Keep a tally of the snow amount on the back deck each 12 hour period, clearing the spot each time. When the storms are over i’m sure the tally is a lot more than what is sitting on the deck in the uncleared section.
The weather will be quiet the next 2 days over CA but not to our NOrth in the Pacific NW. There will be a cold front diving down to our East on Friday that could bring in some light snow showers as it slides inside of us. For next week but the Euro and GFS show another possible weak system sliding by that could bring a snow shower or two. After that the models are all over the place and don’t agree. It reminds me of 2 weeks ago. The GFS shows another weak system for next Wednesday as the ridge stay off the coast keeping any heavy precip to our NOrth. The Euro however retrogrades the ridge back a little allowing a stronger cold storm to dive down the West coast. The Euro has been more accurate in the long-range so we have to give it some merit.
Either way the weather stays interesting next week so we will just have to watch to see how far the ridge shifts back from the coast. The Euro shows a big ridge setting up over Alaska and Western Canada starting around the 5th with storms starting to come underneath into the West Coast for the 2nd week of February. This could be a similar setup as what we just saw and would make sense if the AO stay negative. The GFS doesn’t see it but again it didn’t see it last time either. The GFS does show some more storms sneaking in though with a weak ridge off the coast.
We can look at this more tomorrow as I need to get some sleep. I have been working on lots of new weather related projects that I think you are going to enjoy. I am teaming up with another site that is comprised of avid snow-loving meteorologists, to try and expand these types of weather discussions to other mountainous regions of the country. I will also be linking up this site to a another site where I will have a more brief discussion and snowfall forecasts for each resort a week out. More on all that tomorrow. You can already enjoy the new Weather section over at Unofficialnetworks.com where I have been working with them to post a discussion of the weather for a different region of the country each day through the week and then a powder alert on Friday for where the next big snows will be. You can also find resort specific discussions that I have helped to put together on the Sierra At Tahoe, Northstar California, and Squaw Valley weather blogs linked to their conditions pages. BA
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