Lots of New Snow

2009-02-26 20:51:14.000 – Brian Clark,  Observer and Meteorologist

Some sleds just don’t hold up on Mt. Washington

When I left the summit last Wednesday February 18, we had only recorded one day with snowfall of greater than 2 inches since January 28th. For Mount Washington, this is definitely a bit of a snow drought. The amount of snow that then fell during my week off is a great testament to how quickly things can change on this mountain. From February 18 to February 25, a total of 31.6 inches fell, including 16.2 inches in one day on February 23. That’s a lot of snow in one week. In fact, that is extremely close to being three-quarters of the average monthly snowfall for February of 42.4 inches. I spent the majority of my week off in my hometown of State College, Pennsylvania. As I was driving north late Monday night (or early Tuesday morning, depending on how you look at it) I began to wonder if any of that snow actually fell in the valley. All of sudden, once I hit the Ossipee region (about 20-30 miles south of North Conway), there it all was!

As many of you already know, not much snow actually sticks on the summit of Mount Washington itself because of the fierce winds. This was certainly the case this time and upon arrival on Wednesday, and unlike in the valley, there was not much evidence that over 2 feet of snow had fallen since I had left. There is however PLENTY of evidence a little lower down on the mountain where the wind takes all that snow. The USFS maintains tuckerman.org as the official website for the Mount Washington Avalanche Center. On this site (as well as our site) you can find the latest avalanche report, as well as the latest photos of both Tuckerman and Huntington Ravines. As evidenced by those pictures, an incredible amount of snow was transported into the ravines, especially Tuckerman, and subsequently an impressive avalanche cycle took place.

One place all that new snow did show itself on the summit is in what the summit crew has dubbed ‘Parking Lot Gully’. This is the slope between the upper parking lot for the Auto Road and the top of the service road right next the Stage Office. Ever since I was an intern back in 2006, I have often used this slope to do a little skiing when I either don’t have enough time to go elsewhere, or the weather does not allow. Today, the summit crew took advantage of some new and ‘interesting’ snow coverage from the recent storms to get outside for some sledding right before dinner. It’s a perfect slope for sledding because it runs out onto the flat parking lot, so you have plenty of room to come to a stop.

Unfortunately, Parking Lot Gully will not be in such nice shape after tomorrow. A relatively warm storm will affect the summits with a dose of frozen and freezing precipitation through the day tomorrow. Looking toward the weekend though, there is a chance of yet another snowstorm. We will have our fingers crossed!


Brian Clark,  Observer and Meteorologist

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