Tag Archives: Weather Forecast

Weekly High-Five Report: NWAC

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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!

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Winter Storm Warning in Cascades

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Weather Forecast

5-Day Forecast, Crystal Mountain

Snow…snow…snow. This is the 5-Day forecast for Crystal. Woohoo. Music to my ears. Below is the Winter Storm Warning posted by the National Weather Service. Just in case you hadn’t heard. Soon. Very soon.


...WINTER STORM WARNING IN EFFECT FROM 2 PM THIS AFTERNOON TO
6 AM PST SUNDAY...

THE NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE IN SEATTLE HAS ISSUED A WINTER STORM
WARNING FOR SNOW...WHICH IS IN EFFECT FROM 2 PM THIS AFTERNOON TO 6
AM PST SUNDAY.

* ACCUMULATIONS...8 TO 16 INCHES OF NEW SNOW IS FORECAST THROUGH
  EARLY SUNDAY MORNING.

* SNOW LEVELS...AROUND 2000 FEET THIS MORNING RISING TO 3000 FEET
  THIS AFTERNOON.

* TIMING...SNOW WILL BEGIN THIS AFTERNOON...BECOMING HEAVY THIS
  EVENING THROUGH EARLY SUNDAY MORNING.

* IMPACTS...TRAVEL WILL BE DIFFICULT AT TIMES IN THE PASSES. THOSE
  PLANNING TRAVEL SHOULD BE PREPARED FOR WINTRY DRIVING
  CONDITIONS.

Gearing up for Ski Season

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Happy

Last week, the Crystal Mountain Ski Patrol conducted our yearly pre-season training. For a job that requires plenty of outside activity, the rigors of training include sitting inside when the first snowfall of the season has blanketed the base area and the surrounding peaks are finally pasted in snow. It wasn’t always easy to pay attention inside when the scenery outside was calling. But we managed.

Chair Evacuation Practice

Towards the end of the week, we got outside and practiced evacuating chairs and other rescue scenarios. Fortunately, the weather held for a crisp and sunny first day on “the slopes”.

Higher up on the mountain, the snow-making system has already started pasting glorious base-building snow across the top

It's snowing in Green Valley

of Green Valley. In the evenings after training, my husband and I rode the gondola to check out the progress. After only ten hours

Green Valley gets plastered

of “blowing snow” the top of Greenback is already pasted with two feet of bullet proof base. John plans to open Crystal for skiing as soon as possible. And by as soon as possible, he means about 16 inches of snow.

Looking ahead at the forecast, that 16 inches could happen sooner than later. Take a look at the Extended GFS 12km models from University of Washington Atmospheric Sciences page below for two weather systems moving in this weekend. It shouldn’t be long now. Be sure to follow this page for updates.

Friday into Saturday

Saturday into Sunday

NOAA’s First Winter Advisory of the Season

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Needless to say, this makes me VERY HAPPY.

Forecast for Crystal Mountain

Weather Forecast Looking Up

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The National Weather Service has issued a “Special Weather Statement”, forecasting the first in a series of cold pacific storms headed this way. Temperatures are set to plummet this week, and a nice pattern is setting up in the Pacific, bringing arctic air along with ocean moisture to the Pacific Northwest and especially the Cascades.

Click to see the loop

Around our house, when we speak in reverent tones of The Pattern, this is what we’re talking about. Notice how the off-shore high pressure both blocks the warm air from the tropics and ushers the arctic moisture towards the Cascades. This is what we like to see.

Any predictions? When do you think we’ll be skiing at Crystal this season?

Why October is Hard for Skiers

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3 inches measured at an angle

Every year it’s the same. I’m ready to ski about 4 weeks too early. I start checking the forecast models, awaiting the long-range forecast, and keep my fingers crossed for a better than average snow year. This year I just might get my wish.

Earlier this week I hiked up to the base of Green Valley chair at Crystal, hoping to take photos of accumulated snow on bright autumn foliage, and my make first snowball of the season And I did. As John likes to say when the snow fall is less than deep, there was about 3 inches “measured at an angle.”

But what I didn’t expect to see was wildflowers. Crystal (along with the rest of the PNW) had a late summer. It didn’t top 80 degrees until August, and the wildflowers were late this year.

I love the unexpected. Even though I’m ready for winter, the wildflowers apparently are not. With the late summer at Crystal (and nearly everywhere else in the PNW, the flowers didn’t bloom until August, and some, apparently, not until September. A few left overs are now surprised by the early snow.

For me a sharp line exists between the season of flowers and honeybees and the season of fresh, snow and thin, splintery light. But really it’s a continuum between the two, ever changing and mutable.

Stoking the fire

October is a hard month for skiers. There’s the relentless effort of the ski industry, poking their movies and ad campaigns into last year’s embers, gladly fanning the flames. Then there are the still-bare slopes. Last year’s sharp-limned summer grooming might poke up through the first dusting of snow, but we all know we aren’t quite there yet. We are living in this in-between-but-severely-amped-up neverland between hills-are-alive summer wildflowers and oh-so-sweet first days of the season.

Some call it Autumn, I call it disconcerting. I know that I should be here now. I should don my most zen-like mien and enjoy these next fifteen minutes.

And I’m trying. See? I even took photos of the lovely flowers poking through the snow. I even wrote this blog post claiming, “I love the unexpected.”

And I do. I really do. I love all sorts of unexpected: storms that come in at night on Carl Sandburg’s cat’s paws and deposit several inches; stashes of powder still fresh days later; arriving at my favorite drop-in in Southback (SE L, for the initiated) and finding it pristine.

Hopefully Soon

But certain sorts of unexpected are not so welcome. I won’t rehash them today. For those of you following along, you know what I’m talking about.

Forgive me my preoccupation with snow. As soon as it arrives, I won’t obsess. Dutifully portray the splendor of snow, yes. Obsess about the lack thereof, no. Pinky swear. You just might have to bear with me a few more weeks.

How about you? Are you a skier waiting for the snow to fill in?

New Radar to Enhance Weather Forecasting in Washington

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Washington Dual Polarization Doppler Radar

New radar showing yesterday's rain storm.

Meteorologist Cliff Mass has released some of the first images coming from the new dual polarization Doppler radar recently installed on Washington’s coast. These new images dramatically demonstrate how this new radar will help forecasters better predict storms. The radar is set to go live next month and thanks to Cliff Mass, we are getting a sneak peak at the effectiveness of this new tool.

While this is good news for meteorologists, it is great news for skiers. For those following along here, you might already know that I’m a bit of a weather junky. In our household we don’t talk about weather as a substitute for real conversation. Weather is real conversation. In the ski industry, we are snow farmers, watching the forecast models with an obsessive eye.

Seattle Radar

Camano image does not pick up the moisture on the southern coast

Unlike the models, the radar is in realtime, tracking the moisture as it approaches from the coast. In the past, we had just two radars gathering information–one on Camano Island and the other in Portland. The Olympics blocked much of the moisture, consistently casting the area near Crystal Mountain in a sort of shadow. That was the fault of what Senator Cantwell termed the “weather gap” that she has now solved by getting this new radar.

Unlike most radars in use today, this new one uses dual polarization, which means it looks not only horizontally but also vertically into the approaching storms.

Portland Radar

The image from Portland is entirely blocked from the incoming moisture

This winter, it will be much easier for meteorologists, as well as the junior forecasters many modern skiers have become, to track incoming storms. This will be essential in remembering to show signs and symptoms of that horrible flu that’s going around, so you can call in sick when the powder flies.