Is it snowier in Collins Gulch or the Supreme area at Alta? I've always argued for the former, but I know many that argue for the latter (this is for total seasonal snowfall—the winner sometimes varies within individual storms).
This fall, my students installed one of our low impact weather and snow measurement stations at 9603 feet in upper Albion Basin (special thanks to the cabin owners who are hosting the equipment) at a site we call "Top Cecret" since it is near the top of the Cecret chair (and thus in the Supreme area). The idea was to get some experience operating this equipment in a deep snow environment. We were hoping for some challenges. Tripods are best used in no snow or lower snow environments. In deep snow environments, you run into two issues. One is that the creep of the snowpack can mangle the tripod. The other is that as the snow depth increases, at some point you need to take off the equipment, add an extender, and then remount the equipment. That's a job that's time consuming but not too difficult in nice weather, but isn't a heck of a lot of fun in the cold.
This winter none of that has mattered as we've had the worst snow year since WWII. As of last weekend, the tripod bases were well buried, but the observing equipment was still far enough above the snowpack to be operating effectively.
Both Top Cecret and Alta-Collins are equipped with ultrasonic snow-depth sensors that send out inaudible pulses of sound and infer the snow depth based on how long it takes for the sound to return to the sensor.
What are the current snow depths at the two sites:
Top Cecret: 82 inches
Alta-Collins: 77 inches
Looks like Supreme is the winner!
Not so fast. These are two localized measurements of a highly variable snowpack. We really can't make any strong conclusions one way or the other and perhaps there simply isn't a major contrast in snow between the two areas. Let the debate rage on. What think you?