Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Snowy... Soggy... and Stormy

Just 3 weeks ago, we were fretting about barren slopes and a very sluggish start to the skiing/boarding season. My, how things can change in a hurry.

The past two weeks have featured some of the craziest winter weather in nearly a half-century. Tremendous snow fell in the Cascades (10 feet!), and then there have been freezing rain, heavy (regular) rain, and some damaging winds thrown in the mix as well. Indeed, conditions in the mountains have been "challenging" at times. And there's still more to come in this wild weather pattern.

Up next... an intense storm that will bring heavy rain and extremely high winds to the mountains for New Year's Day. It will be an unpleasant day on the slopes -- I wouldn't be surprised if the wind gusted to nearly 100 mph above tree-line on Mount Hood. Take a look at my forecast graphics... and you'll see that starting Friday, the situation greatly improves. The snow level absolutely plunges Friday morning, and heavy snow will fall down to nearly 1,000 feet all day Friday and into Saturday. The weekend will feature the best conditions of this season to date.

Unfortunately, the freezing level will take a hike upward again next week. Overall, it's a stormy weather pattern -- snowy at times... and soggy at times. And also very windy at times. Dress for the storminess... and enjoy this weekend's great snow!


Sunday, December 21, 2008

Deep Powder... RUINED

I think everyone will agree that freezing rain is miserable. It's rare that freezing rain falls at the ski areas, but it happened overnight Saturday night into Sunday. If any of you were up to the mountain expecting to enjoy the five-plus feet of light fluffy powder, I can only imagine your level of disappointment and disgust to discover that the powder was totally ruined by a freezing rain-caused icy crust. I'm bitter about it... and I wasn't even up there to experience it.

It was a complicated weather situation that caused the freezing rain in the mountains. I won't get into the physics of it. Instead, I'll jump to the punchline: it's over! No more threat of freezing rain. And it does look like we'll get significant new snow to cover that icy crust in the coming days. Wednesday through Friday will feature another monster snowstorm for the Cascades -- expect at least 2 feet of new snow. It may end up being 3-4 feet when the storm winds down late in the week. Friday looks to be a "Powder Alert" day with high-quality snow, as the snow level will be down to nearly 1,000 feet and temperatures will be in the teens at the higher ski areas.

I should also mention that avalanche danger is now extremely high, due to that heavy crust on top of the deep powder. Backcountry skiing/boarding at higher elevations is a terrible idea this week -- stay safe and wait until the snowpack stabilizes.

Have a great holiday break!


Monday, December 15, 2008

Back by Popular Demand

Well, I was going to do something else this winter and (and I am... more below)... and not do this blog. But, I've reconsidered. I'm back... and I'm sorry for the abandonment.

First things first -- I've started a "Powder Alert" e-mail service through Ski Oregon. You can sign up at -- just go to the bottom of the page and enter your e-mail address. I'll be sending situation-dependent snow forecast e-mails periodically this season to subscribers. It's totally free... and I promise that your e-mail inbox won't get cluttered with junk mail.

Despite the late start, all signs point to a good-to-great snow season in the mountains. This recent storm featured cold, dry & fluffy snow, and while that would be great during the mid-season, it's actually not ideal for base building. The snow will likely settle -- a lot -- meaning that a 30" base could be no more than 20" in a couple days. But that's without additional snow. Thankfully, there's more coming.

After a terrible November & early December, the weather pattern looks much more favorable now for accumating snow. Up to a foot is possible with the Wednesday/Thursday storm, and this weekend will bring additional significant accumulation.

The season is off and running... and I promise not to disappear (for a least a few months). Thanks for being loyal!