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Heading Back Toward WROD Season?

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We’re now just about half way through the season and one would expect that snow depths would really be adding up. But sadly, with each passing week, less terrain is available. Unless something radical happens soon, it may not be much longer before we’re skiing on that “white ribbon of death” again.

Temperatures began much cooler than expected today, with another east wind event in play. When we arrived at Alpine this morning, snow guns were active and Summit was on wind hold. Temperatures were cold enough that we came back to the locker after two laps to add another layer. Those colder temperatures also allowed the snowmaking guns to run until about 11:00 am this morning. Summit did open shortly after 9:00.

The groomed runs were typical for the conditions. There was varying amounts of sugary snow over a hardpack surface. With few people skiing off piste, the few groomed runs available felt crowded at times, even though it was not all that crowded today. Fortunately many visitors at Alpine were just watching the kids race at Kanagaroo, or they were just hanging out in the lodge, waiting for the kids race to be over.

Ridge Run is still relatively well covered while Bobby's is down to the last few weaker lines.

Ridge Run is still relatively well covered while Bobby’s is down to the last few sneaker lines.

Off piste terrain is dwindling rapidly. North-facing terrain still tends to be treacherously icy, and the sunnier exposures are burning out more and more each day. We ventured off groomed runs today on Bobby’s, Skadi Hill and Yellow. Areas near Sunspot and Dead Tree have become quite a bit more rock filled over the last week, and some of those rocks are hidden under that tiny little bit of new snow that was not schralped by the east wind.

We have to point out that the mountain staff is doing what they can to improve the ski experience:

• We saw somewhere around 20 active snow guns in operation this morning on Rock Garden, Dance Floor and near Meadow. Generally by this time of year, the snowmaking team is done for the season.

• Another intensive snow farming mission was completed around the base of Scott to harvest enough snow to keep the Scott loading area functional. Snow continues to magically appear to keep the Ridge run covered, but it was looking super thin today.

• Even though crowds were light today, ABC was spinning, which allowed people to avoid the greater traffic lower on the mountain.

• There was live music on the Sun Deck today, which was a great move to draw people out of the lodge, which was packed.

We’re hoping something changes soon. We’ve been continuing to keep our eyes on the models. People are certainly talking about the potential for a storm next weekend. The GFS has takes some interesting twists in the last 24 hours. The 00Z model run showed the potential for as much as 25 inches of rain along the north coast over the weekend.

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This would be bad if we had this much rain over next weekend. There is such a thing as too much of a good thing!

That same run also brought the low just a bit deeper into California, allowing for a better possibility of rain in the Tahoe Basin. Later runs of the model today have scaled it back to a very modest AR event.

BA at OpenSnow.com noted yesterday that the ECMWF model brings the low directly where we want it, which would increase the likelihood that we would see snow instead of rain. On the other hand, NOAA latest 6-10 temperature forecast says that we have a “snowball’s chance in hell” of seeing snow next weekend. Frankly, I have never seen such a huge brown blob on that map, not one that suggests virtually a 100% chance of warmer temperatures.

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Our February Contest: “Keeping It Alpine Meadows” Sticker Contest

IMG_2311We’ve got stickers on our mind today. The new #FreeAlpine stickers have arrived and are now available. The new stickers are smaller and more versatile, sized at 2″ by 4″ in easy to apply vinyl. Why #FreeAlpine? We’re big believers in the power of two separate mountains. Whether or not Squaw Valley owns Alpine Meadows or not, each mountain deserves to be run on it’s own. Each mountain has unique elements that attract a different clientele. More information about getting your own #FreeAlpine stickers is on our Stickers page.

We’ve been seeing a variety of other stickers out there this year as well, and we figured that it was time to start our second contest of the year, with a theme of “Keeping It Alpine”. If you could make a sticker (or if you have already made a sticker) that shows your passion for Alpine Meadows, we want to see it! Here’s some we’ve already seen this winter:

We know that not everyone feels like they have the tools to create a sticker design, so we’re going to try to make it easy. Sticker ideas can be submitted in the following formats:

  • Create your design in Word or some other program and submit as a JPG, PNG, GIF or PDF
  • Create your design by hand via drawing or cutting up existing stickers, then snap a photo
  • Just send an email describing your design concept and we’ll put something together

All entries should be emailed to us no later than February 20th, 2015. Judging will once gain be done by a panel of Unofficial Alpine sponsors and contributors. Up to three winners will be selected to get  UnofficialAlpine.com flat brimmed caps, depending on the number of entries we receive. Hopefully we can get more prizes kicked in again.

Ultimately, it sure would be cool if we could get someone to fund the production of the first place design…we’ll keep working on that.

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Andy Wertheim: Should You Drive Up For The Weekend?

Hello Skiers and Riders,

I recently read a report similar to mine written by another local realtor.  His description of the skiing at Northstar, along with reactions he received from clients, mirror my experience at Alpine Meadows.  He wrote his article based on questions he had received from friends in the Bay Area.  They all wanted to know if they should bother driving to Tahoe for the coming weekend. His response was well put in my mind.  Basically, if you love powder, skiing steep terrain, whistling through the trees, or beating yourself up on moguls, then you should stay home.  If you like groomed runs, fresh air, or family skiing with the youngsters, then you should head on up.  Ski in the morning, ride your bike in the afternoon, or even break out the paddle board or hiking boots.

We were out yesterday in the sunshine and today with wind and clouds rolling over the ridge tops.  Groomed runs (Alpine Bowl, Wolverine, Werner’s Shuss, Charity, Dance Floor and Ridge Run) were all really nice.  I skied from 9 to 11.  Groomed runs were firm, but soft enough to hold an edge.  They were really in winter snow condition allowing for high speed turns without the worry of losing an edge where ice may have been exposed from snow scrapped off by the morning ski crowd.  Of course,  the skiing was enhanced do to the light crowd that was present.  A normal weekend crowd with limited groomed runs may just be too scary. Crowds and limited terrain do not really mix.

Yes, the snow is thin in places, especially Wolverine Bowl where tops of bushes are exposed by the grooming crew, and dirty snow with small rocks are visible on Ridge Run.  Yesterday I ventured down Sunspot before it softened (I do not think it softened at all yesterday) to challenge my ability in frozen moguls and globs of piled frozen snow.  It was not something I would recommend to a friend.  However, it would be fine if it softened.

The bike trail along the Truckee River looks clear, the Rim Trail leading up from Tahoe City (near the Chevron Station) is clear for a couple of miles.  The Legacy Trail (paved walking and biking trail) between Glenshire and the Truckee Regional Park is clear.  The Tahoe City Golf Course has at least 6 holes open for play.

Enjoy your day.

Andy Wertheim

Finally Some Weather To Prognosticate

An impressive AR event may bring a lot of rain to Northern California next weekend, but only limited rain and snow for Tahoe is expected so far.

An impressive AR event may bring a lot of rain to Northern California next weekend, but only limited rain and snow for Tahoe is expected so far.

We’ve gotten used to being fooled by the weather models more than ever this year. There’s some forces at work that are making storms behave differently. So this week, we’ve been patiently watching a system develop in the GFS, and watching for some consistency. For the first time in several weeks, there’s a storm that is now inside of the one week forecast window, and it has consistently moved closer in the models, rather than pushed back to the fantasy range of day 15 and 16.

The setup seems to be pretty similar to what we have seen several times this season. The strong ridge that has been blocking the jet stream will push slightly east over Utarado. That will allow a Pacific low to move closer to California, where a southwesterly flow will bring another atmospheric river event. The water totals for Northern California and Oregon look very impressive, which is great for having some sort of impact on the sever drought situation.

But as we have seen time and time again, the low pressure system never moves inland to any significant degree. Currently, the west slope of the Sierra seems to get a decent shot of rain in the Friday to Sunday period. Areas east of the crest, including the Tahoe Basin would receive far less precipitation, with the southerly flow of the jet. That flow would also keep things warm, especially on the southern edge of the system. We would expect that snow levels may be quite high.

When it comes to water, we’ll take what we can get, but for snowfall, we need to see the ridge progress further east. The teleconnections are not showing that to be likely. The MJO remains parked weakly in Phases 6 and 7 over the next two weeks and the PNA index remains positive.

We’re not complaining, because eating, drinking and flushing toilets all are more important than skiing. We’ll continue to say it, don’t wait for the big storm. Come skiing and riding…while you still can.

Has It Really Come To The Point Where 4 Inches Is A Cause For Celebration?

Apparently it has. We can remember lamenting that last year, we had just never seemed to exceed 8 inch storms. We had three of those storms last January. This January, there was only one storm of 4 inches. We loved people’s attitudes today that it is what it is. Hopefully 4 inch storms won’t be the new Tahoe norm.

Valleygirl sent a slew of pictures from today, showing that indeed, the mountain did look a bit more winter like today. Groomers were reported to be ripping, with people seen out on their 210 cm skis. Off piste conditions were reported as crunchy. For those of us failed to recognize the importance of this powder day and went to work, we can expect spring conditions again by this weekend. Get it while you can…as the extended forecast still pushes storms out beyond the end of the GFS forecast period of 16 days.

This May Be The Most Accurate Weather Model We Have Seen Yet

There’s been a lot of discussion recently regarding the inaccuracy of the current weather models in handling the weather this season. We ran across this simple new model posted at WeatherWest.com. It seems to cover the subject completely.

DO CALIFWEATHER

IF (ELNINO OR ATMOSRIVR = FALSE) THEN
ENDLESSRIDGE = TRUE
RAIN = FALSE EXCEPT SPRINKLES(RARE)
SNOW = FALSE
TEMPS = NORMAL+10
FORECAST(TODAY) = FORECAST(YESTERDAY)
GFS(MODE) = LUCYFOOTBALL

IF (ELNINO OR ATMOSRIVR = TRUE) THEN
RAIN = TRUE
LOWSNOW = FUHGEDDABOUTIT

CONTINUE INDEFINITELY