Friday, May 24, 2019

Catching Up

It's been a busy week and I haven't had any time to blog.  I did notice that Snowbird hit 700 inches for the year and continue to hear reports of endless winter in the Wasatch.  The Snowbird SNOTEL observations certainly show you are experiencing a major spring interruption with snowpack water equivalent increasing in the past several days. 


How long can this continue?  Well, if you are a believer in the Steenburgh effect, until the end of June.  At that time, unless someone gets a big Go Fund Me campaign going and the Austrians decide to extend my visa, I'm returning to Utah. 

There are, however, hints that the Steenburgh effect may have reversed polarity.  It has been a wet, cool May in the Austrian Alps and the snowpack above 2000 meters has fattened up nicely.  Check out these photos from late April 2018 and 2019 from Kuhtai, which is just a bit west of Innsbruck. 

Perhaps this Steenburgh effect really is just pseudoscientific babble.  Perhaps.

One of the reasons this week was busy for me was that a student group from Texas A&M was visiting the department here.  Many of the University of Innsbruck Department of Atmospheric and Cryospheric Sciences faculty gave talks, and I did a weather discussion describing the meteorology of the Alps and Tirol.  I also forecast bluebird conditions for the excursion up the Nordkettenbahn this morning, and thankfully Mother Nature complied. 

What a trip for students who rarely see mountains or snow to ascend over a vertical mile above Innsbruck.  We discussed mountain weather and snow safety issues and gave them a great view. 

I even got them to flash the U!

These US students learned a lot about Austria, the Alps, and Mountain Weather. 


  1. "I did notice that Snowbird hit 700 inches for the year"

    Sadly, those numbers reported by Snowbird marketing are fantasyland. Snowbird marketing seems compelled to report similar numbers as Alta Collins. They won't use the numbers from Snowbird patrol because the patrol plot is at the base of the tram. That site had 460 inches of snow in 2018-19 through the end of May.

    Snowbird should set up a plot at the SNOTEL, which is exactly mid-mountain and the same elevation ~9,600 feet as Alta Collins. However, since the Snowbird SNOTEL and Alta Collins both measure water content of new, we can apply the water content ratio to Alta Collins snowfall to get a true mid-mountain number for Snowbird. For 2018-19, calculating that number each month, mid-mountain Snowbird snowfall was 546 inches.

    I have applied the water content ratio for each month since the Snowbird SNOTEL started in 1989-90. Long term, the ratio of Snowbird to Alta mid-mountain snowfall is 88.9%, yielding a 501 inch average for Snowbird.

  2. The Snowbird average above includes May because Snowbird is open for skiing then, while the Alta Collins 519 inch average is November-April. I do not count October unless it's material to the ski season as in the extreme case of October 2004.