Tag Archives: Larry Schick

It’s Official: Another La Nina winter headed our way!

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When Larry Schick, the Grand Pubah of Powder, says it’s going to be a snowy

Bring it!

winter, take heed. The weather service announced today that we are in a weak La Nina pattern, which means above normal snowpack. Can I get a high-five? In Schick’s words:

Above normal snowfall is the exclusive and predictable NW seasonal weather feature produced by La Nina. No other region can make that claim. Everyone else will be rolling the dice. For us, the dice are loaded strongly in our favor with La Nina nudging the storms in our direction. Beyond our region, they are drooling with snow envy. See:
http://www.cpc.ncep.noaa.gov/products/predictions/long_range/seasonal.php?lead=3

Drooling with snow envy? I like that. He’s also calling for an earlier than usual opening (yes!) a lackluster January (similar to last season) and a good spring (awesome!). Let’s here it for La Nina!

La Nina Watch Issued

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Two great forecasters, Larry Schick and Joe Bastardi have good news. The Grand Pubah of Powder, Larry Schick, is calling for another banner winter. This is good news for skiers and snowboarders and those of us that make our living in ski towns.

I could handle another season of this

A La Nina Watch has been issued by The National Weather Service Climate Prediction Center, which means, while it’s not a sure thing quite yet, chances are pretty good for another great winter. However, if the ENSO cycle does not switch back to La Nina, they are predicting a Neutral year, which usually means good but less violent storms. So not bad either way.

The real news from Mr. Schick is the snowpack still lingering from last season. According to him,

“the snow has not completely melted above 5000ft here in the Cascades – that is pretty rare. Some areas are reporting their highest August 10 snow depth – snow will stop melting by September and already melt is slowing in higher elevations (and no heat waves in sight) so I expect carry over snowpack – this is how ice ages begin!”

Ice age! Now that would be good for the ski industry. Just saying.

The next ENSO update will be issued the first week of September. Let’s keep our fingers crossed.

According to Joe Bastardi, not only will this winter be good, but so will the following three years. In fact, he’s predicting winters similar to the late 1970s, the good old days when I was just a young skier catching snowflakes on my tongue. He credits the negative Pacific Decadal Oscillation, solar activity and recent volcanic eruptions. Let’s hope he’s right.

Larry Schick, The Grand Pubah of Powder

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The Grand Pubah

Larry Schick (the self-proclaimed Grand Pubah of Powder) recently came to Crystal to let us in on a few of his forecasting secrets.  Actually, there really isn’t any secret to forecasting, only really cool graphs and models available through the National Weather Service that make it more fun. After my afternoon with Larry, I’m proud to say that I, too, can be a weather nerd.

Weather Models

The GFS model (short for Global Forecasting System) is a computer program that produces a mathematical model for upcoming weather. The GFS is free and available to all, unlike the IFS (the European model), and shows the “bigger picture”.  Check out this funny youtube video comparing GFS to IFS.  Warning: offensive language.

Bringing it Home to Crystal

For us at Crystal, when we want to know when it will snow and how much, we look west to the highs and lows in the Pacific.  Our best weather pattern is a low in the gulf of Alaska and a high over Hawaii. The low clocks cold air towards us and the high pushes moisture north into the flow.  The result is cold and moist–the perfect recipe for fresh snow in the mountains.

The University of Washington Atmospheric Sciences Department takes the GFS model and further tweaks it, producing the WRF, an even better model for our local terrain. They call it Initialized Pacific Northwest model runs.  These models show precipitation amounts, wind predictions, temperature predictions and about a million other aspects.  I imagine computer/weather geeks in Seattle entering in data and watching the model runs spew out information.  It must be like Christmas every day for those guys and gals.

Powder Alerts

Perhaps you don’t count yourself a weather nerd.  No problem.  Larry Schick will do the work for you.  He cares about powder skiing, so much so that he emails “powder alerts” to his followers.  If you don’t want to read the models yourself, just rely on Larry’s explanation.  Check him out at www.skiwashington.com and sign up.  It’s worth it.

One more warning:  watching weather models (especially ones predicting a lot of snow) can cause 24 hour flu, scratchy throats, night chills, sweats, etc. and can further result in missed work days.  Fortunately said symptoms often do not interfere with subsequent face shots, first tracks and giggling into one’s collar, all results of calling in sick and heading to the mountains.