12 The Mesoscale Implications for a Freezing Rain Event for the 2014 Opening Day at Steamboat Ski Resort

Monday, 3 August 2015
Back Bay Ballroom (Sheraton Boston )
Michael P. Meyers, NOAA/NWS, Grand Junction, CO; and D. Phillips, M. D. Aleksa, and J. D. Colton

Weather conditions were ripe for an excellent opening day at the Steamboat Ski Resort on 26 November. Several feet of new snow had fallen during the previous four days on the mountain producing an anomalously heavy snowpack at the ski resort. The high expectations of an epic “powder day” for the opening day of the 2014-15 ski season, were doused by a very rare freezing rain event. During the overnight hours of the 25th, the skiable powder was encrusted with a layer of ice nearly a centimeter thick near the top of the ski resort at elevations over 10,500 ft (3200 m). This crust layer transformed non-groomed slopes into dangerous “off piste” ski conditions for those who ventured out. This study will examine the morphology of this storm event and try to understand the mesoscale controls responsible for the orographic precipitation, and the fact that the snow level was under-forecasted by several thousand feet. We will also examine the impacts and decision support services of a freezing rain event on an intermountain ski resort.
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