An angry little storm continues to brew out there. Temperatures are dropping everywhere as more arctic air seeps into the region. Winds are still southerly, but have started to veer to the west.
Current in Silverton: 8°, windy- W/10-15 gust/20s, 5″ new snow
Current on Passes: Temps 0° to 8°, windy, 5″-10″+ favoring south
Current at alpine wx stns: Temps -8° to -3°, RH in the mid 80s%, winds SW/25-35, gusts/50-70+
Winds speeds and snowfall are forecast to taper off today, with bitter cold temps tonight.
New snow as of 7 AM. Snow is dense and highly wind affected. Rowdy westerly winds continue to move lots of snow around out there.
As winter sweeps in, elementary school students across the United States will learn that no two snowflakes are alike. Is that really true? Mental Floss magazine asked Kenneth Libbrecht, a physics professor at the California Institute of Technology. [Editor's note: Mental Floss magazine is only available in print.]
While most oxygen atoms have eight neutrons, some come with 10, which, Mr. Libbrecht says, changes the shape of water molecules and affects how they freeze.
“There’s no fundamental law of the universe that says snowflakes can’t be identical,” according to Mental Floss. “But since each flake is made of millions of randomly arrayed water molecules that aren’t quite uniform, the odds of stumbling into twin flakes are astronomically slim.”
Libbrecht estimates that there are more unique shapes for snowflakes than there are atoms in the universe. Good luck finding a copycat.
another winters day project that might have to wait til you have more time….
A low pressure trough is forming over the Pacific NW today while cold temps and scattered mid level clouds remain in western Colorado. Another very cold day and night ahead as clouds spread into the area ahead of the approaching trough. By early Saturday SW flow will develop as the low pressure system moves through the Great Basin with a little moisture.
Warmer moist air associated with this low will mix with colder air combined with orographic lift & pushed by the jet (decent winds) just south of us & will provide good opportunity for San Juan Mountain snow. Recent models of course are not in agreement with timing and snow amounts, but it looks like later in the day Saturday snow will begin in our mountains and continue Saturday night into Sunday. We should see at least 12″ or more above 11,000′ on SW facing terrain.
The storm has passed and the deep chill has set in. Temps have dropped 20° to 25° from Wednesday’s lows. Yesterday’s ferocious winds have decreased, but remain the perfect speed for snow transport. Wind chills range from -10°
to -30°, depending where you are.
Current in Silverton: Mostly clear, calm, -19°
Current on passes: Temps near 0° (-8° at Monument), new snow yesterday ~5″-8″+ favoring south
Our most recent storm totals:
Wednesday snow/H20 Storm Total
Monument 6”/.5” 11″/.9″
RMP 7”/.9” (wind effected) 16.5″/1.75″
Molas 10”/1.2” 24″/2.75″
Coal Bank 7”/.7” 19″/2.0″
A gas pipe, one of 43 strategically placed pipes along the mountain, can emit explosive bursts of oxygen and propane to create small, controlled avalanches.
SOCHI, Russia — Scattered high on the craggy, snow-swept cliffs of the Caucasus Mountains, dozens of wide-mouthed metal pipes jut horizontally from the rocks. An elbow joint turns the pipes downward, like spouts of giant faucets.
They are part of an intricate arsenal designed to protect Rosa Khutor, the new resort that will host Alpine skiing and snowboarding events at the 2014 Olympics in February, from the potentially catastrophic and deadly destruction of avalanches.
Rosa Khutor is so new — parts are still under construction — that there is little understanding of the likelihood and danger of snowslides. The first avalanche studies of the area were conducted in 2008, after Sochi was awarded the Olympics and just as construction of the resort began in earnest.
“It was totally virgin, a wild space consisting of large forests interrupted partly by avalanche tracks,” according to a 2012 paper written by outside consultants and officials of the flourishing ski area.
The experts found that conditions for avalanches were nearly perfect.
“Rosa Khutor is a challenging zone with many large and steep slopes,” the paper said. “This terrain is near the Black Sea and receives extreme precipitation that can lead to large and dangerous avalanche cycles.”
That is why there is a team of experts devoted solely to avalanche prevention at Rosa Khutor, some posted in a tucked-away office near the base and others stationed in a ridgeline cabin, above timberline, called “avalanche house.” That is why two backhoes crawl like giant insects atop the highest ridges, knocking away dangerous cornices before they topple. That is why mountainsides have been reshaped, with 30-foot-tall dams, to steer avalanches away from buildings, lifts, ski runs and people.
And that is why there are 43 huge pipes sprouting from the rocks, each of which can emit a remote-controlled explosive burst of oxygen and propane to create artificial avalanches before large-scale natural ones occur.
CLIMATE PREDICTION CENTER/NCEP/NWS
and the International Research Institute for Climate and Society
5 December 2013
Synopsis: ENSO-neutral is expected to continue into the Northern Hemisphere summer 2014.
During November, ENSO-neutral persisted, as reflected by near-average sea surface temperatures (SST) across much of the equatorial Pacific Ocean (Fig. 1). SST anomalies in all of the Niño regions were small, but showed increases in the Niño-3.4 and Niño-4 regions (Fig. 2). The oceanic heat content (average temperature in the upper 300m of the ocean) increased (Fig. 3) due to the eastward propagation of a downwelling oceanic Kelvin wave. This increased heat content reflects above-average subsurface temperatures across the Pacific (Fig. 4). The wind anomalies remained small at lower and upper levels during the month. Equatorial convection was suppressed in the central equatorial Pacific and enhanced over Indonesia (Fig. 5). Collectively, these atmospheric and oceanic conditions reflect ENSO-neutral.
The majority of model forecasts indicate that ENSO-neutral (Niño-3.4 index between -0.5°C and 0.5°C) will persist into the Northern Hemisphere summer 2014 (Fig. 6). While current forecast probabilities are still greatest for ENSO-neutral by mid-summer, there is an increasing chance for the development of El Niño. The consensus forecast is for ENSO-neutral to continue into the Northern Hemisphere summer 2014 (see CPC/IRI consensus forecast).
11.5″/.95 new, low density snow at Desperado Estates
Good morning from Silverton,
A nice fat storm is currently under way in the San Juan. Snow finally began around 6pm.. but really ramped up after midnight, depositing a quick new load on our snowpack. Some areas along the hwy have exceeded overnight forecast snow amounts. Strong winds are causing blowing a drifting snow and poor visibility.
Current in Silverton @0430: Skies obscured, snowing S2+, Winds SW/15-20, Temp 26F.
Current @ Wx Stations: Winds S to SSW/45-50 G60’s – 90’s PG 120 on Eagle site. Abram site PG 83. Temps teens. RH 94%.
Snow Totals so far:
HN/HNW (water equiv)
RMP 9.5”/.85” Automated site shows more
Coal Bank 12”/1.3”
I’m assuming there will be mitigation sometime this morning/afternoon with visibility by this report …. I’d anticipate possible closed roads or at least temporary closed roads for mitigation work on RMP …. J.R.
There are many ?’s concerning the approaching major winter storm system, but several things are certain–high winds and very cold temperatures with potential for Significant Snowfall especially in the central Colorado mountains.
Today will be mostly mild with increasingly cloudy skies & cooling temps. The drama begins after midnight as an approaching cold polar front marches south. With good jet support (140 kt) and abundant Pacific moisture mixed with the cold front, western Colorado will see intense snow fall depending on location. The northern and central mountains will experience the first action and as the trough slumps southwesterly the San Juans should get their share late Tuesday and Wednesday. By Wednesday evening the trough of low pressure will be moving east with diminishing snowfall, but snow will continue into Thursday leaving potentially several feet of snow on favored SW slopes above 11,000′. COLD arctic air replaces the trough as it travels east with temperatures in the single digits or colder through the weekend.
Sage wisdom tells me with potentially deep new snow, high SW winds, cold temperatures combined with an already weak snowpack (weak bed surfaces), those changing variables will hopefully modify personal ski behavior by finding turns on low angle slopes.
CLICK ON MAP FOR LOOP
The water vapor image show an infrared band which is affected strongly by the presence of water vapor. Essentially, the image shows the altitude of the highest moist layer in the atmosphere. Bright areas reflect the location of high clouds either due to jet stream cloudiness or due to thunderstorm activity. The dark areas reflect the location of dry air at high altitudes. This is associated with dry air intrusion and sinking motion associated with high pressure systems. This image is a decent tracer of jet stream winds which will show up as bright streaks.
Experts say extreme dust levels threaten Colorado’s water supply, much of which comes from snowpack.
Snow at the headwaters of the Colorado River is melting six weeks earlier than it did in the 1800s, according to scientists.
Dust may be the culprit: When a dark layer of dust lays on top of clean snow, the snow melts faster, because the dark particles absorb more of the sun’s rays.
Dark-colored dust that settles on snow in the Upper Colorado River Basin makes the snow melt early and robs the Colorado River of about 5 percent of its water each year, says a new study co-authored by researchers from the University of Colorado at Boulder-based Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences, or CIRES.
___________24 hr snow/h20______5 day storm total__________
[JR….this might be a little harsh but publish it if you think it might
get peoples attention or stimulate conversation. Denny and I often use this analogy
in our snow conversations]
Ski Aware ! Burnie
Check out the size of the closed low over Az/NM/Co by clicking on the map for loop.
THE BIG COMPLEX WINTER STORM CONTINUES FOR ONE MORE DAY TODAY…THOUGH SNOWFALL WILL BE MUCH MORE CENTRALIZED TO THE LOWER HALF OF OUR CWA. THE UPPER LEVEL LOW WHICH HAS BEEN PUMPING UP THE LAST 3 DAYS OF MOISTURE IS CENTERED OVER WESTERN ARIZONA AS OF THIS MORNING AND TRACKING EAST NORTHEAST. THE SYSTEM IS STILL PUMPING UP MOISTURE FROM THE SOUTH…BUT TEMPERATURES ARE EXPECTED TO DROP TO OR STAY NEAR FREEZING IN MOST LOCATIONS AS THE LOW TRACKS OVER THE FOUR CORNERS BY MIDDAY TODAY. MODELS SHOW NOT ONLY MUCH COLDER AIR ALOFT MOVING INTO THE REGION WITH THE SYSTEM… AFTERNOON OVER THE FOUR CORNERS WHICH SHOULD KEEP SURFACE TEMPS COLD ENOUGH FOR SNOW.
DECIDED TO EXTEND THE HIGHLIGHTS WHICH WERE OUT UNTIL NOON…AS CURRENT METARS AND SATELLITE INDICATE A FETCH OF MOISTURE COMING INTO THE AREA FROM EASTERN AZ AND WESTERN NM. THIS MOISTURE WILL GRADUALLY MOVE EAST WITH THE MOVEMENT OF THE LOW…BUT NOT BEFORE THIS AFTERNOON.
THE NATURITA TO NORWOOD CORRIDOR IS LIKELY TO SEE THE BEST SNOW IN CO20 TODAY. ALONG THE UNCOMPAHGRE…NOT EXPECTING NORTH OF ESCALANTE FORKS TO SEE MUCH IF ANY SNOW…BUT COLUMBINE MTN AND SOUTHEAST COULD RECEIVE UPWARDS OF 6 INCHES THROUGH TONIGHT.
EXPECTING BEST SNOWFALL RATES TO OCCUR BETWEEN 2PM AND 6PM THIS EVENING IN THE SAN JUANS AND SOUTHEASTERN UNCOMPAHGRE.
_____________24 hr snow/h20___4 day total snow/H20___
Well, a new ski season is happening and the San Juan snowpack is so typical. Early October snowfall, cold mean daily air temperatures that drive the faceting & weakening of the new snow and early season backcountry folks who are looking for happiness of the turning ski…
Too often many backcountry riders don’t have their guard up yet. Mostly thinking of the turn, suffering from ‘POWDER SHOCK‘. They’re not using their avalanche eyeballs yet.
Several people took rides this weekend with the new snow and high winds which are two very important variables that are often ignored/discounted or not yet morphed into thoughts or warnings because of powder shock and maybe the stampeding of the herd mentality.
We need to think before chasing the turn. It’s a new year and each year is a new experiment. Most folks put new batteries in their transceivers, check that their bindings aren’t set on FEMUR & stock up on ski swap woolies, but somehow don’t spend as much time considering the changing environmental variables or reining in ego and desire… Make your forecast for the day, but rely on your NOWCASTING skills for an ever-changing environment. Be there now…
chant the conservative Republican mantra….. J.R.
Mark Rawsthorne photo
CLICK ON MAP FOR LOOP
Thickening clouds are beginning to stream into the San Juans today with a moisture source stretching from Hawaii. The first wave of energy in the Great Basin should reach us by mid to late afternoon today bringing the potential of snow, 4-8″ with a bit more for favored locations above TL tonight through Thursday night. Cold air arriving late Thursday should help with snow production along with perfect SSW wind speeds (12-18 mph) for transporting snow and soft slab formation.
A closed low over southern California will spin moisture into our mountains on Friday morning with forecast models calling for a foot or more of additional snow. Several models are calling for 18-24″ of snow above 9,000′ for the San Juans by Friday afternoon but confidence in the second system isn’t strong so the previous snow totals could be cut in half. Both storms will have winds (SSW) but not like last weekend. As always, we wait and see.
Here are the totals from our last storm.
___________new snow/H20 24 hours_____storm total snow/H20___
Monument 3”/.25” 9”/.75”
RMP 7”/.7” 14”/1.35”
Molas 9.5”/1.1” 18.5”/1.9”
Coal Bank 7.5”/.75” 16”/1.6”
New snow is highly wind effected and slabby.
Southerly winds Saturday and overnight were rowdy- alpine averages 20-30+ with gusts 50-70+. The north side of the range had especially fierce conditions with winds averaging 30-40 mph and a peak gust of 103 on Mt Abrams.
A good number of slides likely ran during the storm, but evidence was raked away by the wind.
Check out WNW flow of the second 1/2 of this storm we’re enjoying through Sunday morning. J.R
THE PROJECTED INCREASE IN SNOWFALL IN THE MOUNTAINS THIS AFTERNOON AND EVENING APPEARS RIGHT ON TRACK. RADAR ECHOES HAVE BEEN ON THE INCREASE IN AREAL COVERAGE AND NUDGING UP IN INTENSITY ACROSS MOST OF WESTERN CO AND NE UT. Grand Junction National Weather Service
The first 1/2 of our weekend storm produced at least 10″ of new snow at 11,000′ and more with increased elevation on SW slopes. Silverton had 6″ overnight. SNOTEL on RMP had a increase of 0.7″ of water that would translate to about 10″ of new snow. Coal Bank SNOTEL had 0.9″ of new water that would be 10-12″ of new snow.
The next trough coming our way later today is on NW flow and should favor WNW facing slopes. Probably another 6-10″ of snow. J.R. HIGH WINDS coming!
RMP 7″/0.65″ (swamp angel shows 10”/.85”)
Coal Bank 8.5″/0.85″
Western Colorado is about to transition from beautiful autumn conditions to winter weather this weekend. Models lacked consensus the past week but now generally agree with difference in the details. There is a deep long wave trough forming over the west with several fast moving NW systems moving through over the weekend. Possibilities are good for a long mountain snowfall event from Friday afternoon through Sunday morning with probable lulls or breaks in the action.
A shortwave trough will move into the Great Basin overnight bringing good round of precipitation into the San Juans and western Colorado later on Friday. A cold front precedes the system as you can feel in the air today. Strong southwest flow will develop ahead of the trough with snow or a mix of snow/rain over south to southwest slopes. Precipitation should become widespread by tomorrow afternoon.
The second of the two systems will move rapidly down the backside of the trough on Saturday and models are in agreement for increased precipitation. Cold air advection (transport of an atmospheric property by the wind) with the cold front ahead of the storm, combined with good orographic lift point to decent snowfall on west facing slopes Saturday into early Sunday. If it all turns out, the higher elevations of the San Juans could receive a foot or more of new snow on WSW slopes above 11,000′.
As fascinating as macro photography is, most of us think we can’t do it because it requires specialized equipment. Russian photographer Alexey Kljatov, however, is an inspiration to aspiring amateur photographers everywhere – he created a home-made rig capable of capturing stunning close-up pictures of snowflakes out of old camera parts, boards, screws and tape. His pictures give us an enchanting close-up view of snowflakes that we could never hope for without specialized equipment.
The wonderful thing about snowflakes is that no two are alike. Their extraordinary diversity diversity stems from the many small changes in temperature and humidity that they experience while freezing on their way down to the ground. Their six-sided symmetry occurs because the crystalline structure of ice is also hexagonal. All of these many factors come together to create beautiful shapes that are almost always unique.
Kljatov’s rig creates the sort of photos that might otherwise require lenses or other equipment worth hundreds or thousands of dollars. And the pictures he creates with this rig look absolutely amazing. For more information about how he did it, check out his blog post.
Synopsis: ENSO-neutral is expected through the Northern Hemisphere spring 2014.
During October, ENSO-neutral persisted, as reflected by near-average sea surface temperatures (SST) across much of the equatorial Pacific Ocean (Fig. 1). During the month, slightly below-average SSTs were evident in most of the Niño regions, except for Niño-4, which remained near zero (Fig. 2). However, the oceanic heat content (average temperature in the upper 300m of the ocean) rose from near average to slightly above average (Fig. 3), due to the eastward shift of a downwelling oceanic Kelvin wave, which was reflected in the above-average subsurface temperatures across the western half of the Pacific (Fig. 4). The atmospheric circulation remained largely near average during the month, with generally small departures in equatorial convection (Fig. 5) and upper and lower-level winds. Collectively, these atmospheric and oceanic conditions reflect ENSO-neutral.
The majority of model forecasts indicate that ENSO-neutral (Niño-3.4 index between -0.5°C and 0.5°C) will persist into the Northern Hemisphere summer 2014 (Fig. 6). Though confidence is highest for ENSO-neutral, there are also growing probabilities for warm conditions (relative to cool conditions) toward the spring/summer 2014. The consensus forecast is for ENSO-neutral to continue through the Northern Hemisphere spring 2014 (see CPC/IRI consensus forecast).
This discussion is a consolidated effort of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), NOAA’s National Weather Service, and their funded institutions. Oceanic and atmospheric conditions are updated weekly on the Climate Prediction Center web site (El Niño/La Niña Current Conditions and Expert Discussions). Forecasts for the evolution of El Niño/La Niña are updated monthly in the Forecast Forum section of CPC’s Climate Diagnostics Bulletin. The next ENSO Diagnostics Discussion is scheduled for 5 December 2013. To receive an e-mail notification when the monthly ENSO Diagnostic Discussions are released, please send an e-mail message to: email@example.com.
Climate Prediction Center
National Centers for Environmental Prediction
NOAA/National Weather Service
College Park, MD 20740
What this means: J.R. Confidence seems high for ENSO-neutral conditions, but there are also growing probabilities for warming conditions toward the spring/summer 2014. Last winter (El Niño neutral) 2012/13 was below average for the San Juan Mountains. No-Niño years (neutral) often aren’t generous for above average winter snows.
Following are this morning’s snow totals from the Hwy 550 study plots:
HS (Height Snow) HN/HNW (new/water equiv)
Monument 8” 6.5”/0.35”
RMP 16” 4.5”/0.3”
Molas 13” 4.5”/0.3”
Coal Bank 9” 4”/0.35”