Operations Blog - 2.18.16

Operations Blog - 2.18.16

Summary

After accumulating 16" overnight and 20" from 2PM-5AM, Ski Patrol was greeted this morning by very unstable snow conditions and naturally triggered avalanches. With rapid snowfall accumulation, high winds and zero visibility, operations have been adversely effected, resulting in the closure of Alpine Meadows and most of Squaw Valley being closed as well.

For realtime updates on lift/terrain status, please download the Squaw Valley | Alpine Meadows app, or visit the Lift & Grooming Status page.

20\" of new snow in 24 hours and still snowing!
Snow Safety

20" in 24 hours is A LOT of snow in a short period of time. We piled up snow at a rate of 3" per hour for part of the night, the snowpack has experienced rapid loading. And rapid loading presents a great challenge, as it leads to an unstable snowpack. Furthermore, winds in excess of 80 MPH have wind loaded much of the terrain. Compounding the issues further, the snow came in very light and dry which hinders bonding to the existing snowpack.

Long story short, we're dealing with a very unstable snowpack that requires massive amounts of preparation and snow safety. With high winds, big snowfall and essentially zero visibility - patrol has had just about every challenge thrown their way possible - we ask that you be patient. The snow will be worth the wait! :)

Lift Operations

Winds are currently sustained over 65 MPH with gusts in excess of 80 MPH along the ridge. This has placed many lifts on wind hold. Once snow safety is complete and Lift Ops are cleared, there will be a need to de-ice the chairs that have not been able to run. In other words, once terrain is cleared, preparation on the chairlifts can begin.

Weather

Snow is still rapidly accumulating; remote sensors show an additional 5" in 4 hours from 5-9 AM. Forecasts are calling for another 2-4" throughout the day, so we'll be looking sweet for Friday and the weekend.

Friday's forecast: A 40% chance of snow, mainly after 10am. Mostly cloudy, with a high near 37. Windy, with a southwest wind around 35 mph, with gusts as high as 55 mph. New snow accumulation of 1 to 2 inches possible.

Alpine Meadows Road

As of 10AM, Alpine Meadows Road is currently closed due to avalanche control in the area. The Alpine Meadows Road area experienced three natural avalanches this morning, two of which impacted the road. The debris from one of these avalanches impacted two vehicles. There were no injuries and all vehicles have been cleared from the road. Continued avalanche mitigation is underway on Alpine Meadows Road. The road and chairlifts are expected to re-open later today, pending the finalization of avalanche control efforts.

Potential Openings

Subject to change. Keep in mind we are in a high alpine environment with great variability and extreme weather.

  • Squaw Valley: Red Dog, Far East, Squaw Creek and SnoVentures are on Patrol Hold. All other scheduled chairs are closed for the day.
  • Alpine Meadows: Due to a very unstable snowpack and high avalanche danger, we have closed for the day.
The Silver Lining

This storm dropped some of the driest, fluffiest, lightest powder we've seen this year. With another 2" forecast on Friday, this weekend is shaping up to be one for the books and there's no doubt that the skiing and riding will be worth the wait!