Saturday, November 24, 2012

Day 6 of frost and no significant snow. We do not have the large wafer frost crystals yet, but everything is covered with alligator teeth frost. 

Snow making continues on the mountain which works well considering its 14° and clear skies out. Be ready for a fast ride today!

Yesterday I went to town late in the day and the road was perfect. We even saw some sheep down low on the mountains, including one big ram. The ice is really building up on the rock faces and the waterfall pull out was gorgeous. A few of the ice falls closer to Girdwood have developed what look like ice bubbles but they are solid. Really neat pattern. On the way home at about 7:30 the road was still nice and clear. That has been one great benefit of the lack of snow.

Ever since the iphone came out, people have been relying on the weather app to tell them what is going on here in Girdwood. That app is NOT ACCURATE!!!!! For instance, today someone said the app told them it was -7° here when it was actually +10°. I have yet to investigate where the forecast comes from but do not rely in it. Please check the CNFAIC site, or Alyeska’s Snow Report. These weather stations are actually in Girdwood!!! Above is looking out from the Daylodge. Now the windchill is probably negative temps, but folks are still skiing.

There was a big accident at mile 87 of the Seward HIghway this afternoon. It may be beautiful weather out there folks, but please still be aware and careful of ice in the shadows and people stopped to take photos. Look at Alaska 511 before you leave and check the Anchorage Daily News for the latest, they usually get at least a line in about an accident even before the full report is done. 

Friday, November 23, 2012

A clear pink morning, blue skies coming

Beautiful morning, here at 9:30 a.m. Light clouds and 14°

Below is Penguin basking in the sun at 1 p.m.. The snow makes the sky so blue!

Thursday, November 22, 2012

It was a strangely foggy day today. It was hard to tell if the snow falling was natural or combining with the mountain snow production to create our own little vortex of snow on the south side of Girdwood. Since the snow making machines have been going so long, they may be creating their own ecosystem. Above is a view of Max’s. If you concentrate you can see the sun lighting up the snow on top. 

I hope everyone had a bountiful and hearty Thanksgiving. There were not many skiers out today, I don’t blame them, I am waiting for more fluff. Sticking to the nordic trails for now. Here is a look down Alyeska Highway from the T, you can see what I mean about the questionable snow - fog. Again, if you look carefully, you can see the sun shining on the top of Penguin Ridge in the center right.

Here is another photo by my husband and his Blackberry, amazing view. You can see how frustrating it can be sitting under the fog when I know this is the scene above. This is some serious flight seeing weather! Those visiting should forget shopping tomorrow and take a helicopter ride. 

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Clear skies but sugary snow

Though it was so cold my face chapped on the quarter mile walk to work this morning, it was not too cold for die-hard skiers. These folks have been calling the resort for weeks to be sure the mountain would open on the day they advertised. And open it did. 

The opening was not the grandest however. The natural snow is rather thin, Girdwood has only received 34” thus far. As a result, there was limited access on the mountain. What snow there is, be advised snow lovers, the snow is sugar these days. 

We received an ever so slight dusting of snow last night, that is why I have posted the photo above. These clouds appeared last evening and were a bit of a surprise. The forecast then, as it is now, is for clear skies for at least 4 more days. Above is a photo looking of Max’s shoulder from the Daylodge parking lot.

Here is a spectacular photo from the upper tram taken by my husband with his Blackberry. Yes, a Blackberry. This is the kind of photo he taunts his family with: “Look, this is where we live!”

Speaking of the cold today, it was 7° at 9 a.m. I overheard some folks say it was 0 during the day but that I cannot confirm. At 7 p.m. after our community Thanksgiving dinner, it was again 7°. Many thanks go to the community for hosting a warm dinner where we can come together and provide a welcoming place to those new to the area or unable to provide their own dinner (we should do this once a month!) 

The larger than half-moon was glowing bright as were the mountain lights tonight. The snow making will continue until we get a big load from the sky. 

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

What an absolutely gorgeous morning

A sweet pink dawn rivaling those clear sunsets of last week, and day two of frost. Above is a view over the Alyeska Resort toward Raven and Eagle glaciers. If you are wondering what it all looks like from the air, today would be a great day for a flightseeing trip. Visit Alpine Air Alaska’s website. They are located right here in Girdwood. Alpine also has a facebook page where you can see the latest awesome photos of recent flights. The most experienced helicopter pilots around will take you on a smooth trip to see the fresh snow cover, icy creeks and the big blue sky. 

Today would be an exceptional day as there is virtually no wind. A perfect day for flightseeing or back country skiing, no wind crowns! And since there has been no wind, the snow is holding fast to the trees making for that beautiful winter wonderland experience. Should be a great drive out for pass holders tomorrow and opening day at the resort on Thursday!

Here is a view of Penguin at 9:30 with Raggedtop visible through the trees to the right. Its day two of frost and the forecast if for several more days, at least through Saturday of the same. 

Last night on our drive back from Anchorage, my husband and I stopped to look at the stars. The moon is just about half so it was not too bright. The milky way was visible overhead. The pleiades (containing the little dipper) were plainly visible and the large star to the left is Jupiter. Hyades are also visible. While the aurora forecast is low, go out and look at the stars! For those of us who miss Jack Horkheimer’s Star Gazer forecast, here is good news. Sky & Telescope Magazine’s Associate Editor Tony Flanders has filled the space void left by Jack’s passing. Mr. Flanders can be seen on PBS weekly with the SkyWeek observations. You can see this week’s SkyWeek on their website here. Yea!

Max’s is clear as a bell here, sun glowing from behind. I don’t know about you, but I feel like winter is going to pass quick this year. At 9:30 this morning it was 9° with a surprising 91% relative humidity, 70% at the top of the mountain.

While you are getting your gear prepped, keep this in mind if you find your skis are worn out or did not serve you well last year with all the powder days. Will Spears, one of the ski tuners at Alyeska Resort, has started his own business, Chugach Snow Tools. He is building custom skis for the Chugach mountain conditions. They are made with all U.S. materials and local wood. Stephen Shortridge has started Chugach Flyer Snowboards, also made with all U.S. products. You can see an article about them in the Turnagain Times here.  

Monday, November 19, 2012

A nice mix of everything

17° this morning and 95% relative humidity. This is looking toward town and Penguin, can’t see much at 9am. I can see it in the air, fog this morning. Cannot see any tops of nearby mountains. Seems like we will have the valley clouds today, I will be watching. Below is Penguin at 10am.

By 10 am there are a few breaks in the clouds. Penguin was getting a kiss on the face seen here from Moose Meadows. The temperature has dropped a couple degrees as some of the fog moves out. However there are still actually two layers of advection fog, horizontal layers, extending from the Turnagain along Penguin, and a lower layer down low in the valley. This lower one is still heavy over Moose Meadows and the Resort, hope it does stick around until Wednesday so we do not get a crunchy layer on top of snow for skiers. 

In case you have not seen it before, here is a shot of snow making near the magic carpet at the daylodge. Snow piles up great around the cannons, but what is even more interesting is the bits that float in the air. At night the man made precipitation is mystical. 

Turnagain seems to be clearing a little after 10 am seen here with a nice glow on the mountains near Hope.

For those out of town that enjoy Jack Sprat, they have a guest chef on Tuesdays making sushi! Delicious. 

Below is Max's at 10:30, temperature 17°

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Are we the luckiest snow valley in skidom right now? Last night on my last look at the weather forecast, the prediction was for clear skies today. It snowed most of the night and it is still snowing this morning. All the tire tracks are covered in our driveway, I am going to estimate about 4 inches of new snow. The temperature is 20° and the snow cannons are going on the mountain. Looks like it will be a great opening day for Alyeska. Above is Penguin at 9am. You can see its snowing enough that I can barely see across the valley.

Had to make a short drive this morning, the snow is feeling the consistency we like for skiing, the dampness is going away. Here is Max’s.

I have heard from other locals that they had been cross-country skiing for several weeks now. This morning I saw some on the bike path near Moose Meadows. The muni has been grading the path from Arlberg to town along Alyeska Highway infrequently, but enough to make it not a regular ski path. The times I have walked from Alyeska Highway to the Resort, the trail has not been cleared. That and the fresh snow made a nice run for these folks today.

For the best trails, look into the Girdwood Nordic Ski Club. This is an aggressive organization developing, maintaining, and working to keep safe and clean nordic trails in the community. Please consider joining to help cover the equipment and volunteer efforts. 

By 11am, the sky is starting to clear, temperature is 22° and road graders are out all over. My amateur weather station is located 20 yards from the T in Girdwood. You will find that temperature varies through town and may see different temperatures listed on the Resort’s website, the CNFAIC, and area web/weather stations.