Nine Ways to Obsess over Snowpack
by Mary Thill
Adirondackers got what they wanted for Christmas: snow. Lots of light flakes, refreshed every other day. Now, as Adirondackers do, we are talking about “good base.” This is the post-last-winter/post-traumatic language we use as we nervously watch the temperature rise above 32°F.
“This warm-up should give us good base,” a passing skier said to me on Sunday. Two more people said the exact same thing later in the day. As in, temperatures in the high-30s later this week will make the snowpack denser and make it last longer. Once the temperature drops back below freezing. If rain doesn’t take it away. Snow dance. Etc.
NOAA offers nine ways to watch the snow wax and wane on its amazing Regional Snow Analyses webpage.
The site has two-week animations of snow depth, snowpack temperature, snow water equivalent (how much water the snow will amount to when it melts), and—on the downside—snowmelt and surface sublimation (snow loss into the atmosphere) plus four other ways scientists measure snow. The way things look now, all we can say for sure is that we are set up for good base.
As for the long-range winter forecast, the Arctic Oscillation remains the wild card of winter.