Smugglers' Notch came in with 17" of snow. Zoinks! 📷Smugglers' Notch

Storm Postmortem: 12/10-11

This was sort of a rollercoaster of a storm but my final forecast ended up being quite accurate overall. This was a very difficult storm to forecast for. It was modeled badly but I think I said 3 or 4 different times that models have a very hard time figuring out which lows embedded within a low level jet (that firehose of rain) will spin up and become dominant, and they didn't let me down. The ECMWF was overall the winning model for this storm.

The first part of the storm before the low was supposed start amping up saw a flip to snow that was generally a little early so it overperformed a bit in NY and VT. The second part of the storm where the low was supposed to amp was definitely under my expectations. The low ended up further east, not stalling, and barely amping up and that resulted in a dry slot over Vermont during a critical part of the storm. The last part of the storm was the brief back end, and low and behold, that overperformed and the bonus zone came in at the top of our ranges. It's nice to get a chance to roll the dice three times in order to even things out. It's also not uncommon for those back ends to overperform when there were warm temps and rain immediately before it starts.

Final Forecasts and NWS Snowfall Analysis

Here are the final forecasts for both Snowology and the NWS.

There were some very notable differences between the Snowology and NWS forecasts this time both before and after NWS offices started bumping the storm Sunday morning. They did end up trimming later on Sunday evening but I tend to use similar timing for final forecast comparisons.

Here's the NWS Snowfall Analysis for this storm. Always remember that this particular source will almost never overestimate mountain snowfall, and frequently underestimates it due to how and where data is collected.

Reported Snow Totals

I am quite happy with my forecast through the end of the storm. Changeover storms with an elevation component are insanely difficult to forecast accurately for and on the edges where snowfall is expected to drop off you can expect the greatest uncertainty. I ended up hitting a good number of these areas accurately which is always a relief, but certainly not all of them. My more notable misses were in the Poconos where no one reported anything but I know I was too bullish by 2"-3", and I also was heavy in the Eastern Townships by a similar amount. I was a little too bullish in Southern Vermont and the Berkshires, but practically dead on elsewhere. Here are the reported snowfall totals with some notes:

Sutton: 11"
Owl's Head: 9"
Bromont: 11"
Mont Orford: 6"
Jay Peak: 18"
Smuggs: 17"
Stowe: 14"
Bolton Valley: 18"
Burke: 8"
Sugarbush: 4 (base measurement)
Killington: 8"
Okemo: 2" (definitely underreported)
Stratton: 4" (base measurement)
Mount Snow: 1" (definitely underreported)
Cannon: 5"
Bretton Woods: 4"
Saddleback: 2"
Windham: 8"
Hunter: 6"
Belleayre: 8"
Plattekill: 12"
Gore: 6" (just Monday morning)
Whiteface: 13" (multi-day total unclear)
Titus: 8"
Greek Peak: 4"
Holiday Valley: 1"
Jiminy Peak: 2" (likely underreported)
Seven Springs: 1" (definitely underreported)
Blue Knob: 3"

Let me pause to vent a little for a moment (I'm not actually upset, just disappointed). It's beyond me how some ski areas do not report their snow since snow is the key ingredient for their product. The biggest issues are at resorts owned by big conglomerates. Vail Resorts' snow reporting has been in constant disarray since they laid off most of their resort marketing and communications staff just before the COVID ski season started. KSL's two Poconos resorts, Camelback and Blue didn't report any snow at all. Alterra's Stratton and Sugarbush have new websites and they're displaying base measurements only due to a bug, but the design of displaying base measurements by default is going to cause many people to think it doesn't snow and it's a bad design that should be modified.

It's not uncommon to see underreporting of snow these days from bigger mountains and I think that has a lot to do with the fact that the ski industry is selling increasing numbers of season passes and don't feel the need to market snow as much. A ski area not reporting all of their snow is like McDonalds not selling hamburgers. Even if they want to become a McSki franchise, they should report their McSnow. It's strange to see this honestly. We also really could use a reporting standard for the East.


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Positive and Negative Impacts Through the Weekend