Tag Archives: Weather

Weekly High-Five Report: Crystal Skiers

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It can get windy around here

Northwest skiers are pretty hardcore. The past several days have brought challenging weather conditions to Western Washington and still the skiers came up to brave the elements. Seems we just can’t get enough. On Sunday, before Rex and the Gondola temporarily went on wind hold, I stood at the top of Green Valley in 70mph winds and watched the skiers glide by in droves. Northway had just opened and epic powder awaited. But first they had to ski through a hurricane to get there.

Sunday was one of those days that skiers dream of. The morning started early with First Tracks Breakfast, where I hooked up with Ingrid, Tiana and Kerry–other ski professionals that also had the day off. We lapped Green Valley and Memorial Forest until Northway opened, then dropped into Paradise and enjoyed the deep, untracked snow.

Girls just wanna ski pow

At one point I looked around at the hoards of skiers all wearing high-tech clothing, helmets and goggles, moving through hurricane force winds to get at the powder. Later Ingrid, who skis all over the world, declared Crystal skiers as the most hardcore she’s ever come across. Other skiers, she claims, are spoiled. Here, we’re just really into it. I have to agree. These people are dedicated.

And I understand why. We have it pretty good here. The weather can be brutal, but when it’s on, there’s no place like Crystal.

So here’s to all those folks plying the windy vortex this weekend, their smiles turned to stony ice, their whoops swallowed by the wind. Bravo guys. Because when Ingrid Backstrom says you rock, then well, you pretty much do.

Snow in the forecast?

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This photo was taken at 2:30pm today. We have high hopes for this storm. Oh please Ullr, bring us some snow!

The winds are increasing and the clouds are lowering. Let's hope this storm isn't just hype.

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!

The Four Ws Revisited

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Ice-encased tree

With Thanksgiving arriving tomorrow, I’m feeling very grateful that the rain turned back to snow this morning. The weather has been pretty wild in the past 48 hours, and tomorrow another weaker system is forecast to bring more snow. If I were a betting woman, I’d put my money on Friday as the best day of the week to ski.

Today was definitely not it. While it didn’t rain all the way to the top, the conditions today redefined “Cascade Concrete;” it was thick and gluey and wet. I took a photo of a tree encased in water-ice and snow. Thankfully, after the temperature dropped, we picked up about 5″ of lighter, more skiable snow. This was on top of about 36″ of wind-blasted snow that fell (flew, blew) yesterday. Snowboarders had it much easier today.

Last night the wind blew over 100mph, but didn’t cause too much damage. It’s amazing how hardy the trees are in the mountains. A few limbs and bits of moss littered the slopes this morning, but for the most part, the landscape withstood hurricane force winds and didn’t seem much the worse for wear.

I just love the resilience and adversity of the mountains. It makes me feel stronger and more humble all at once. I’m thrilled to see the storms lining up in the Pacific. Winter is certainly here, and La Nina will do her bidding.

Tomorrow afternoon’s system should bring in another 8′ and Friday is supposed to offer a break between systems. It could be crowded, so get here early. For those of you not planning on a big turkey dinner with the fam, the slopes should be uncrowded and the snow should start falling in the afternoon. The day could end well.

See you all on the slopes.

 

Weather Report: The Four Ws

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Storm Crystal

All Quiet on the Rainer Express

It’s been a wild 24 hours here at Crystal. According to the telemetry, we’ve picked up 3.7 inches of water in the last 24 hours and most of that fell as snow above the base area. John and I drove in a snowcat this afternoon up to the Campbell Basin Lodge and found 36″ of new snow. The snow was quite dense–great for base building, but not necessary for skiing. Now, the temperature and wind have spiked again. It’s raining in the base and gusting to 100mph at the Summit. The power was out for a while but has come back on.

We call it the Four Ws: Wild, wet, windy and wacky. It’s the perfect Cascade storm. My fingers are crossed that we wake to cooler temps by morning.

If anyone is wondering when to come skiing, my bet is on Friday. Temperatures are supposed to cool tomorrow and another storm is set to arrive on Thursday. Friday provides a break between systems, so I’ll see you on the slopes. And a much improved slope it will be–this snow has already packed in around the rocks and creeks. We’ll be up to full operations in no time.

The Evolution of an Opening

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Last week grass poked up through the snow in Green Valley

In just a few days, the slopes at Crystal Mountain went from little snow to epic powder. We opened the ski area on Friday, based on the forecast. And how lucky we were!

Saturday it snowed very hard. At closing time, as my husband likes to say, it was “snowing ten-year-olds.” We picked up nine inches of snow in just two hours. It snowed so hard the visibility dropped to almost nothing. I took a photo of the Campbell Lodge at sweep.

Looking at the radar that afternoon, the only precipitation falling anywhere in Western Washington was right over our heads. We were the only ski area to get much snow.

snowing hard at Crystal Mountain

Saturday it snowed ten-year-olds at Crystal

By Sunday morning, we had doubled our snowpack and we woke to pristine blue skies. The skiers must have thought the snow was packed out, because we didn’t have much of a crowd. These are rare days in the ski world–a foot of fresh snow, sunny skies and few lift lines on a weekend.

Only the third day of the season, and we already enjoyed a bluebird powder day. This is why I love my job. The mountains are capricious and the weather is fickle. Sometimes we get lucky. Very lucky.

John Kircher skiing Green Valley

Skiing Powder in Green Valley on Sunday

Crystal to open tomorrow

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It’s official. Crystal will open tomorrow. Still very thin snow cover, and early season conditions exist. By that I mean rocks, creek beds and unconsolidated snowpack. Bring your rock skis and enjoy this fresh snow! Woohoo!