Wednesday, October 10, 2018

Release the Hounds!

"I'm going to go up and take a lap today, interested?"
- Text received 7:45 AM

Ski conditions in the upper Cottonwoods have improved dramatically since the lunatics below braved skiing Gunsight a couple of days ago.

The overnight storm came through in spades and as of 0800 MDT has delivered 0.59" of water equivalent and 14" of fresh at Alta Collins, bringing the total snow depth to 21 inches.  

Source: MesoWest
That should release the hounds today.  These are still very marginal snow depth, especially given the modest water equivalents (perhaps the gauge is underreporting some).  Painful as it is to say, I'm electing to sit today out, but might try a lap or two up Collins gulch once it is skied and perhaps packed out some by the cats.  

The latest radar imagery (ending 1440UTC/0840 MDT) shows ongoing post-frontal valley rain and mountain snow showers, with some likely lake enhancement.  

Water equivalent rates the last few hours have been light at Alta Collins (≤0.05 inches), but it's snow and it will add up some.  Snow showers will continue at times this morning before tapering off this afternoon.  Perhaps a couple more inches at Alta Collins.  Areas east of the lake might do better as the flow becomes more westerly this morning.  

We might get a little more snow tomorrow as a weak trough swings through.  Some models, like the NAM below, are generating a healthy band of precipitation along the trough, but Alta is right on the edge.  Much will depend on the details.  

I hate to say this, but the extended range forecasts are pretty much a disaster as a monster blocking pattern sets up along the west coast.  The GEFS 180-hour forecast ensemble below shows all members with a monster ridge along the west coast.  

There's a chance something might sneak down the back side of the ridge or push up here from the south if we can get a closed low to setup just right over the southwest.  The latter, however, would probably be a relatively warm event.

So, enjoy your pig wallow today.  Friday marks the return of fall, the start of the melt on south aspects, and the beginning of the rot on shady north aspects.  


  1. The SWE at Collins seemed really odd to me. The Mill D north site showed 1.6" of water to along with roughly 15" of snow which makes more sense to me in terms of water. The Collins site generally seems to have better QAQC but my hopeful gut seems to tell me that the Mill D SWE is closer to the truth.

    Regardless I'll ski it and find out.

  2. How similar or dissimilar is this ridge to the mega-death-ridge-of-doom from last season? Is there anything that can indicate if it is moving in, or just staying on the couch for a few days while it sorts itself out?

    1. That is a question I don't know the answer to. Ridge frequency and strength waxes and wanes within seasons and from year to year due to many factors and diagnosing those as the ridge is happening is outside my wheel house.

      It strikes me that one should never stay on the couch...