Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Ah, the perfect winter day... in March!

Here I present the perfect winter day. Although, by some standards (re: the calendar our whole country clocks dates with) we are several days into spring. Ok, then this is the result of a country-wide phenomenon - the spring storm, Alaska version. 

Girdwood is the beneficiary of perfect geographical location for winter sports by way of abundant snow accumulation. Merely 20 miles west of Prince William Sound as the raven flies, Glacier Valley and Girdwood, Alaska is the repository of hundreds of inches of snow that falls from storms that swirl in the Sound with a westerly flow. Due to the locations of crevices and cracks between the vast spread of Chugach Mountains, the weather systems sneak through the mountains and rest on our valley and the Turnagain Arm. Snowboarders, resort skiers, back country skiers, and nordic skiers all are endeared to Glacier Valley for its diverse opportunities to ride the snow. 

Here once again, my favorite snow gauge in town, the picnic table in front of Girdwood Fire and Rescue. Today it is nearly invisible, in fact it took me a few passings by to be sure that was the table. And how gorgeous is the sky today? Of course it indicates the temperatures will be extremely cold tonight. I for one and happy to endure the cold for the beauty of retaining the white-white snow. The snow is so blindingly white and clean at this temperature and just after the fall. Once the temperature warms up, the snow dulls, grays, and becomes slick and icy. Not the prettiest landscape. 

Today, I enjoy the tremendous piles of snow resembling our nearby beloved glacier filled mountains, both sparklingly white. 

Blue bird day over the softest snow ever

The most beautiful day of the season. The lightest snow of the season. The softest snow of the season. 

The perfect day for a dog mushing adventure. Local dog musher takes guests for a ride in the soft, quiet snow under a blue bird sky.

Alyeska's upper tram seen from Moose Meadows.

Monday, March 25, 2013

Heavy spring blizzard lays it down on Girdwood

Well, how about a little spring blizzard to shake up the town! Wow! When we went to bed Sunday night it was quiet, cold and a little snow falling, enough but quiet. When we woke up Monday morning, BAM 10 inches of fresh powder! This is how the weather prediction goes for Girdwood. When there is snow predicted for an accumulation of 3-4 inches, that usually means 4-6 to 8 inches for Girdwood. When there is a blizzard warning with accumulations predicted of 4-6 inches, there is no limit for Girdwood. This early spring blizzard is a classic example of how difficult it is to predict weather when mountains collide with oceans and jet streams. 

At 9 am there was 10 inches of fresh snow at the T in Girdwood as seen in the photo of my foot on my driveway. Visibility in Glacier valley was low, I could see a quarter mile down the road but good visibility was only one eighth of a mile. Above is a photo of a car turning onto a road that is literally one house-lot away from my driveway. Usually I can see all the way to Crow Creek Road. This morning I cannot even see the bridge over Glacier Creek. Below is a photo taken from the front of the Daylodge toward Alyeska’s live christmas tree near the wooden sign. We are talking white out conditions. 

As for the skiers and riders, those who loved powder were in for a treat. By the time they made it back up to the top on the lift, the snow had already filled in tracks from the previous run, instant refills they call it! Cute. The fat skis were out en masse today!

Looking down Arlberg Avenue at 9 am, the Jade Shop is on the right past the green sign.  Below you can see the snow stacking up on snow.

The large solid wood sign marking your arrival to Alyeska Resort (this is the back) is my favorite part of the resort. It is heavy, strong, does not change and will not let you down.

Here is one of our few front end loaders clearing a back road. It is about 4 pm in this photo, still near white out conditions. Alyeska ski patrol had to close the upper bowl for fear of avalanche danger. I can’t wait to hear the counts of snow feet on the upper mountain! As for my house, by time I returned home after 4 pm, another 10 inches of snow had fallen. Thankfully, our driveway was cleared for a second time. Below is the afternoon view down the Alyeska Highway, very close to the same location of the first photo in this post, just from the other side of the road. Glacier Valley and probably all of the Turnagain Arm was experiencing this white out view.

The snowfall was relentless, heavier at times than others but never letting up until nightfall. The flakes were small too, not big fat ones. Usually when flakes are small they are wet but these were just falling so quick they did not have time to build up extra rings of crystals. Never-the-less, they were powder-riffic indeed! the piles of snow were soo sooo soft and fluffy. Below is one last view looking back toward Max''s Mountain, its there somewhere, really!