Tag Archives: Weather Forecast

Snow in the Forecast


I’m not one to obsess about the forecast¹. So when I just happened to check out the latest forecast discussion on NOAA, I was pleasantly surprised. I especially liked this part:

Winter Forecast

7 Day Forecast for Crystal Mountain

Friday looks like our best chance for snow, with the forecast calling for 6-10″ up high and about 4-6″ down low. With strong west winds, we could pick up a little more than that in places like Green Valley Bowl. Saturday will bring some leftovers and orographic showers with Sunday now offering cold enough temperatures to add a little man made snow to the mix.

Already we have a 8-12″ base on the upper mountain, but need quite a bit more to open. It rained lightly yesterday, but not enough to melt what’s already in place. However, the rain hopefully helped to rid the growing snowpack of early season facets that could cause avalanche problems down the road.

24 Hour precipitation amounts ending Saturday

24 Hour precipitation amounts ending Saturday

People always ask John, “how much snow do you need to open?” The answer is always, “it depends.”

We always welcome a big November storm that deposits two feet of wet snow that compacts into a nice, smooth base. (Miles Clark over a snowbrains.com put out a nice post this week about why the PNW gets so much snow. The pattern mentioned in the article would be very welcome right about now.)

But this year we’ve had an accumulation of smaller amounts of snow that could add up to enough. Some of the long-term models are showing a low in the Gulf of Alaska, which could usher in those classic November storms we all like to see.

With “summer grooming” and strategic rock picking at Crystal, we try to set ourselves up for needing the least amount of snow possible to open. This could be one of those years where we get enough to open Green Valley, but have to wait for more snow to open the rest of the mountain. Only time will tell.

So start doing your snow dances and rubbing your Ullr pendants. Book that non-refundable trip to Mexico for Thanksgiving and stop washing your socks. We could use all the help we can get up here.

¹ Actually this is a complete lie.

Incoming Snow


Looking good for the weekend.

If you believe the weather forecast, we are headed for serious snow starting this afternoon through next week.

According to Larry Schick:

A big snow will move in Friday through Sunday. Initially, later on Friday, the snow level will be 3500ft. But Friday night through the weekend the SL will drop to 1500ft. As a result,  great quality snow will be the rule.  Expect 12-30″ between later Friday and Sunday. It will be snowing all day Saturday, with snow continuing Sunday, but easing up. Both days will be excellent. Monday looks fantastic with partial clearing – possible bluebird.

In addition, The Poobah is predicting (prognosticating?) March to be another one like last season. That means record snow, epic powder days and an extension of the ski season. While I’m not going to hold my breath (it just seems too good to be true), I’ll keep my fingers crossed.

Crystal Mountain Conditions Update


The outlook gets two thumbs up!

Today has been a little borderline, but it has been snowing on the upper half of the mountain most of the afternoon. Currently the temperature is down to 34 F at the base allowing for a mix of rain and snow, or what we like to call “chunky rain”. The radar shows a plume of moisture still headed our way and with the temps meant to drop even more, we’re hoping for a miraculous turnaround. And by miraculous turnaround I mean a foot of snow.

Maybe I’ll be called out early for avalanche control tomorrow morning. It’s been a while. I’m planning on going to bed early just in case the phone rings at 4am.

Update: It’s early morning and I am going out for avalanche control. We didn’t get much snow down low (an inch in the base) but did get 5″ up high with plenty of wind. Doesn’t look like today will be blower, but better than nothing.

Everyone talks about the weather, but no one ever DOES anything about it


I know. It’s Tuesday and usually I do the Weekly High Five Report on Tuesdays. Not to worry. That’s coming. But I also wanted to say a little something about the weather this morning.

The Olympics stole our snow last night

It did not snow last night. It’s hard to imagine how a moisture plume such as the one on the radar yesterday could fall apart without bringing much to the mountains. But such is life in the ski industry. We’re like farmers–obsessed about the weather, needing just the right mix of snow and sun and lack of wind to provide the very best product we can. This week the weather needs to hold it together.

We are forecasted for snow, but we’re also going to get some rain too. And rain is never good at a ski area.

Earlier it looked like the first part of the week would bring the best conditions and now it’s looking like later in the week will be better. The rain–if it really does come in, the forecast keeps changing–should be here tonight and tomorrow. Then it should change to snow and start dumping. Thursday and Friday could be excellent days.

Today is still going to be a fun day. Southback has plenty of fresh lines and the rest of the mountain is soft and skiing well. But I promised THE DAY today, and I was off my one. So far, THE DAY was yesterday. But by the looks of it, Thursday could be next in line.


It really WILL be a white Christmas!


This right here is what I’m talking about. In case you didn’t get the memo, La Niña is coming home for Christmas. Let’s all give her a proper greeting.

Right now, the forecast is calling for mixed rain Saturday, getting colder overnight and turning to snow on Sunday. Most likely you can enjoy a proper Christmas morning, then hit the slopes as the snow begins to fall. That way you can test out all your new gear Santa brings you.

Monday looks even better with a legitimate winter storm followed by more systems stacking up in the Pacific. Just in the “Saint Nick” of time. Get it?

All I Want for Christmas is….SNOW


What It’s Been

The snow is coming, time to put away your skinny skis

Skiers and riders in the PNW are all in the same boat. We have some of the best conditions in the lower 48, and still we know it’s not good enough. Maybe we’re spoiled here. Perhaps our skis are too fat.

We want more than fast groomers and bluebird days. We expect relentless storms, snowfall filling in our tracks, and a progressive improvement in the snowpack as days turn to weeks.

If yesterday’s mini-storm is any indication, things are about to change. In fact the skiing improved tremendously yesterday, and with what looks like another 2 inches that fell on my truck overnight and another bluebird day, today could be a vast improvement.

The last two weeks have been more Rockies than Cascades. We’ve had sunny days and a few weak stormlets pretending to bring new snowfall. We’ve had some warm days, some cold and clear ones and day after day on the corduroy. It hasn’t been bad per se. In fact I’ve enjoyed myself. As my friend Michelle Longstreth always says, “any skiing is better than none.” And she’s right. Skiing groomers is better than not skiing at all.

But still. It’s not the same.

Disclaimer: I’m not a meteorologist. You should all know that by now. I’m way too optimistic to be a real forecaster, since I just take the prediction I like the best and go with that one. I hear “chance of snow” and I think “snow.” I hear “chance of rain” and I think “snow.” I hear partly sunny, and I tend to think “snow.”

Bear that in mind as you read on.

What’s It’s About To Be

Soon, very soon

Santa is about to relinquish our storms. Maybe he’s just wanted to keep them for himself, but now that his snow runway is in, he’s probably tired of shoveling snow. And as it turns out, La Niña wasn’t a very good house guest. He’s ready to give her back.

It’s almost Christmas and we’re about to see a return to real winter. This weekend a smaller system comes through Saturday afternoon and Christmas Day. While the NWS is calling for higher freezing levels Saturday night before a return to cooler temps Sunday, Santa and I had a little chat. He promised snow.

Early next week a more vigorous system comes through. Temps stay cool and precipitation amounts are kicking back up. This is the winter that we know and love. This is La Niña’s grand entrance.

It’s still a little too soon to tell, but right now Tuesday looks to be THE DAY next week. So make your plans now. Those of you who don’t already have next week off, you might want to plan your sickness now.

Just saying.

What Happened to La Nina?


Forrest getting a little early powder this season

Up here in the PNW, the winter started off with a bang. Aha, we all cried, raising our fists in the air in salutation to Mother Nature/Ullr/La Nina. Winter’s back, we smiled into our the collars of our jackets and prepared for the onslaught. We patrollers chortled and thanked our lucky stars for glorious weather pattern bringing storm after storm our way.

Then something changed. A blocking high-pressure set up off the coast, thumbing her nose at our powder dreams, bringing bluebird days, but no new snow.

Not to say the groomers haven’t been great. They have. Crystal Mountain has some of the best coverage in the lower 48–very few rocks showing on the pistes, chaulky dry snow on north-facing slopes and fast groomers.

But when you’re promised another banner year, well, it’s easy to get a little impatient. I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised at the lack of skiers and riders these past weeks. Maybe everyone is using this non-powder time to finish their holiday shopping, attend Christmas parties and otherwise tick items off their to-do list. But even a groomer day is better than not skiing, in my opinion.

The real question is: when is it going to snow? A few flakes are falling now, as I write, so that’s a start. And next week the Euro models show a trough coming through with the chance for more snow. But the real story is La Nina.

Where is she?

The meteorologists at NOAA haven’t given up on this winter’s hostess, and neither have I. Here’s a quote from their Climate Prediction Center:

Which means, our hostess is a little late. Take a look at the outlook maps to the right. The temperature prediction should continue to be below normal in the PNW, and more importantly, the precipitation looks to be above normal around here.

What does that spell? Say it with me now people. “Powder!”

So go on and get your holiday shopping finished. Say hello to the family, put in your required appearances now. We’ll continue to rip the groomers and dip our fingers into the bowl of peanuts while glancing periodically at our watches wondering when the guest of honor will arrive.

She’ll come. We just have to be patient.

And if she’s anything like her sister from last season, we’ll be ringing in the New Year with powder in our teeth.

And that, Ladies and Gentlemen is the best Christmas gift a girl could ask for.

Weekly High-Five Report: NWAC



Sunrise Weather Station, Mt. Rainier National Park

The Northwest Avalanche Center puts out a weather and avalanche forecast every day of the winter, and for mountain people, these guys are invaluable. Thanks to NWAC meteorologists Garth Ferber, Kenny Kramer and Mark Moore, snowsports enthusiasts and backcountry skiers know a whole lot more about the conditions. Not only do these three maintain various telemetry stations throughout the state which allow the casual browser to view snowfall totals, water amounts and wind directions, among other data across the Olympics and Cascades, these guys also put out daily forecasts.

Every morning Garth, Kenny or Mark release a detailed Avalanche Forecast for the region, complete with a Danger Rose, Snowpack Analysis and Avalanche Forecast. Before venturing into the backcountry, just check the NWAC website to find great information about the snowpack and which aspects and elevations to avoid.

In addition to the avalanche forecast, the center also offers a detailed weather forecast as well. If you’re lucky, you might even get that forecast in the form of a poem.

Mark Moore is known for his wild weather forecasts, and he’s also called a “weather poet”. Not only does he study the forecast models, translating the colorful images into water totals and wind estimates, he also might put the outlook into rhymed verse. Here’s an example:

Settlement is coming but not fast enough-
And it’s hard to focus with all of that fluff.
So whatever your sport, whatever your skill,
Be avalanche aware or else you it will kill.

Needless to say, the Avalanche Meteorologists at NWAC are a great resource for anyone venturing into the mountains. Whether a backcountry skier looking for an avalanche forecast or a resort rider wanting to know just how light that 3″ that fell at his favorite ski area really was, look no further than your local avalanche center.

These guys deserve a high-five. Bravo Mark, Kenny and Garth. Now carry on!