Tag Archives: Winter Storm

The Return of Winter



Snow for the foreseeable at Crystal

Several feet of snow forecast by next week

Several feet of snow forecast by next week

Winter is back. After over a month of spring-like weather in the Cascades, it looks like we are about to return to a cold, snowy forecast, and I, for one, am excited. Don’t get me wrong, a little sun and high pressure in the middle of the season can be a nice break. But now I’m ready for deep snow, light fluff and powder turns. Without this change in the weather, I might just continue to poke my fingers in other people’s eyes, and that’s not good for anybody.

Here’s the forecast:

Friday should be a pow storm day, with wind and sideways snow filling in tracks between laps. High wind could also shut down upper lifts, but with a little luck and a lot of snow, it could be stellar. Snow levels could go up to 4,000 feet, but that shouldn’t be a problem at Crystal. Fingers crossed on that.

Saturday will offer a brief break in the action, with another storm arriving Sunday. Beyond that, the NOAA forecast discussion is calling for continued stormy, cold weather with mountain snow. Now that’s what I’m talking about.

For more information on how to read the forecast and watch the telemetry check out How To Predict Good Snow Conditions.

Waiting on Athena: The Weather Channel to Name Winter Storms


The Weather Channel recently announced it will name significant winter storms starting this season. Much like how the National Hurricane Center assigns names to tropical storms in order to better track their progress and potential damage, the weather giant is now offering a similar service. While some critics question the legitimacy of their motivations as a ploy to sensationalize the weather and thus boost the channel’s ratings, The Weather Channel claims the end result will be more clarity and awareness.

Nomen es numen is a latin phrase meaning “to name is to know.” Once we can name something, we can identify it. We catalog it in our minds; we hold onto it and own it for yourselves. I already feel this way about winter storms that hit the PNW, following them from their roots in the Gulf of Alaska to the flanks of the Cascades. Now they will have a name, perhaps even a personality. Instead of referring to The Inaugural Day Storm or the MLK Storm, we can now refer to Draco and Freyr. I only hope that some of the best names fall to our PNW storms. I look forward to a fierce blast of icy wind from our first named storm; I imagine myself shaking my fist at the sky, questioning et tu Brutus? I hope to peer upon the gray skies of Gandolf and the windy mob ushering in Helen. I can only wonder if a full moon powder run will be in order after a visit from Luna.

Watch out for Winter Storm Q. She’s going to be a doozy.

Perhaps some of the better names will fall to eastern storms. Maybe we will end up with Winter Storm Q. Or perhaps Winter Storm Orko will hover out there like a UFO, and strange men named Mork(o) will flock to the ski area.

The Weather Channel has not fully explained how it will choose which storms to name. Storms will be named at a maximum of three days out; even The Weather Channel knows that reliable forecasts do not extend past that time frame. According to their website other factors include “disruptive impacts including snowfall, ice, wind and temperature.  In addition, the time of day (rush hour vs. overnight) and the day of the week (weekday school and work travel vs. weekends) will be taken into consideration in the process the meteorological team will use to name storms.”

Social media seems to also play a role in the naming of storms. The Weather Channel wants its users to engage on Twitter and Facebook. They suggest using hashtags and storm names to join the weather conversation. I, for one, look forward to tweeting: Forecast calling for another 6-10. Bring it on #Magnus.

It is possible that storms offering significant snowfall won’t be named at all. Maybe the Storm With No Name will drop 12″ of fresh and everyone will forget to call in sick to work. That would be a pity. Except, of course, for those that pay no attention to the names and follow the forecast the old fashion way. Who knows. The No Name Storm might be this season’s best kept secret.

For now, I’m just waiting on #Athena.

Simple Math: How to add up a powder day


Tuesday Morning


Tuesday Night


Wednesday Morning


Enough Said

Incoming Snow: Perfect forecast for Friday the 13th


Whenever there’s a “threat” of snow in the city, everyone starts talking about skiing and mountains. Overnight the collective consciousness of the lowlands turns towards snowflakes, hot chocolate laced with Grand Marnier, and skiing. Well, maybe not everyone thinks of skiing.

But we do. And by “we” I mean us. You and me.

So, here’s my prediction for next week: Sunday it will start to snow a little–a cold teaser. It might even snow a little in the city. Most of the precip will be showers, bringing more to the mountains through orographics, but not an organized storm.

But Tuesday will bring in a wet system, and with the cold already in place, the models are calling for serious dumpage. The fire hose starts pointing at us early in the week and doesn’t let up. It even looks like California and Utah might get some of the blast.

The best day next week?

Right now, I’m rooting for Wednesday (it’s my day off, so I’m banking on it.) Take a look at the 24 hour snowfall prediction for Wednesday at 4am below. Yep. Start thinking ahead to that cold/flu thing that’s going around. You just might have to spend a sick day on the slopes in the very near future.

And just for fun, let’s see if Larry Schick agrees with Wednesday. He hasn’t put out his Powder Alert yet, and I wonder if he sees the same thing I do.

Wednesday could be THE DAY




8" of new in the base area

It’s 4am, it snowed, and I’m about to head out for avalanche control for the second day in a row.

We got 8″ on the stake at home and 10″ 13″ (updated at 5am) at the top. What’s more, it’s still snowing. Hard.

For those of you that come to Crystal today you can follow the patrol–with openings, closures and conditions updates–on Twitter. Our handle is @crystalmtpatrol.

For those of you that aren’t at Crystal today, I wouldn’t follow us on Twitter. That would be cruel. It’s the holidays. You should be kind to yourself.

Just saying.

If you do come, be safe out there. It could be crowded in-bounds and the backcountry avalanche danger is going to be Considerate to High. Come early, get your turns in and start aprés skiing at 2pm. That’s what I’d do if I wasn’t working today.

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?

More Snow Incoming


Looks like more snow will come to the Washington mountains soon. The NWS is calling for snow starting tonight and continuing Sunday, with accumulations between 12-20″ by Monday morning. Tomorrow could be windy as well.

NWAC is calling for an inch of water equivalent by Sunday at 4am, with the snow level around 500 feet. An inch of water at cold temperatures could mean 24″ of cold fluff.

Not to overstate the obvious here, but Monday might just be a good day to catch that terrible cough that’s going around.

Incoming: Winter Storm


Everyone talks about the weather, but nobody ever does anything about it. 

In the ski industry, talk about the weather is more than just idle chit-chat.  Like farmers, we keep an eye to the sky and a hand on our “almanac”–a.k.a. the forecast models.  This year the long-term forecast is calling for a La Nina weather pattern.  Skiers in the Northwest like La Nina–it portends more and bigger snow storms. 

The storm pattern we look for is a high pressure system off the coast toward Hawaii and a low pressure system over the Gulf of Alaska.  This clocks the moisture from Alaska and the cold temperatures from the north towards Washington State.  It’s a beautiful thing to see that pattern set up. 

I watch the GFS and NAM forecast models, which can be found at:  http://www.atmos.washington.edu/~ovens/loops/, and right now “the pattern”, as we call it in our household, is shaping up.  Over at Cliff Mass’s weather blog http://cliffmass.blogspot.com/, he forecasts a series of storms hitting the Washington coast this weekend, with big waves and high winds. 

Of course that system will also hit the mountains in the form of snow.  How much and how low we don’t quite know yet, but up at Crystal Mountain, we’re ready.