After a busy day of double duty yesterday, it was abnormally quiet around Alpine Meadows this morning. With Squaw reopening today, we’re guessing that many people headed in that direction to find powder that remained untouched after yesterday’s closure. The atmosphere around Alpine was a little bit more dreary with a gray cloud deck and a chilly north wind that hung out through the day.
Just about everyone that was at Alpine today headed right to Sherwood, which hasn’t been open for a while. The pictures that Jim B. sent us yesterday certainly made me anxious to get out there. With just a little bit of sun exposure yesterday, the pure powder conditions suffered just a bit. On some exposures, that led to the powder getting a bit heavy with a little bit of crust from the overnight cold. That did not stop people from ripping big turns down South Face. Speed was an asset in the heavy pow, but that often lead to some entertaining tumbles.
Not all areas of the Sherwood side suffered from sun exposure. Changing your aspect or location just a bit could lead to nice soft powder turns. It was enough to keep me at Sherwood making hot laps all day. Sometime around 10:30, patrol opened access to High Traverse and reports from that direction were a lot of whooping and hollering. By noon, it was deserted all around the mountain.
Looking ahead…for tomorrow the clouds will return along with a chance of light snow flurries. An east wind is expected to strengthen Thursday night, with ridge winds expected to reach 40-50 miles per hour. That means it is quite possible that Summit will be starting the day on wind hold for Friday. Winds are expected to taper by the afternoon.
For the weekend, a strong inversion will develop, which should bring sunny and warm temperatures to the mountains while the valleys sit in the cold fog. Expect north facing slopes to be chalky winter snow. Exposures with more sun that are ungroomed will likely remain like a coral reef. If anyone tries to convince you that there’s still a lot of powder turns left for the weekend crowds, consider it “alternative facts.”
While most locals are enjoying this break from constant shoveling and snowblowing, there is another storm on the horizon. The models are beginning to come together with bringing a storm in next Wednesday, Feb. 1st through Friday, Feb 3rd. The models indicate that as much as 3-5 feet is possible, but those amounts are still a WAG this far out. There has been some discussion that this will be the start of another series of AR events, for now things still look cold enough to keep it all snow.
Both Howard at Mammoth and BA at Open Snow have discussed the possibility that February may set up just like January. A rex block could set up in the Gulf of Alaska, blocking storms initially…until the jet stream undercuts and the parade of storms returns. We’ll be keeping an eye on that situation…