Summit Side-Wheeler

2013-03-13 23:16:49.000 – Ryan Knapp,  Weather Observer/Meteorologist

Some waterlogged snow ahead of us this morning.

Earlier today, we got to take a paddle steamer to the summit. Alright, not literally, but it certainly felt that way. The warm temperatures from the past few days along with yesterday’s fog and rain allowed a lot of water to start running down the mountain. Some of this runoff was visible on top of the snow pack but a bulk of it was running off underneath making for some supersaturated snow packs; especially in areas where ice jams were allowing the runoff to pool under the snow. Normally, when the snowpack is firm, the two tracks on our snow tractor do great but on water logged snow, not so much. The two tracks that normally keep us above it all sink in with ease and start taking on the characteristics of a side-wheeler as they churn the water/snow that covers the mountain this time of year.

Adding to this side-wheeler effect are the sights and sounds that come with waterlogged snow. In front of us, the blade of the snowcat formed a huge, curling wave that was continuously crashing against the snow – it sounded like the small waves that crash along the shores of the Gulf of Mexico or in front of a sizable boat. The more interesting sight though was actually occurring behind us as our ‘side-wheeler’ was actually forming a small wake at times – while it wasn’t a large one, a skilled person probably could have rode a wakeboard on the formations at times. All and all, it definitely made for an interesting shift change and served as a reminder that spring is just around the corner.


Ryan Knapp,  Weather Observer/Meteorologist

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