Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Post Time!

I can almost hear the trumpets blowing a fanfare!

The race is on to make snow for Boreal's traditional Halloween Night Skiing Costume Party...don't get me wrong here, it's not an official party per se, but Halloween skiing and snowboarding has become a tradition at Boreal over the years.

Boreal's "Halloween Show" has been a fixture on local TV news from coast to coast. It's Marketing Gold for Boreal. Chances are your local TV Newscast will show a few seconds of video from Boreal's Big Night wherever you live.

Boreal's Halloween video is a twofer for local television news directors. They get an "oddball" Halloween it segues nicely into the Weatherman's presentation.

As with the chestnut real estate advice, Location, location, location is the marketing philosophy up at Boreal.

Sitting right on top of Interstate 80's Donner Pass, Boreal shines like a beacon to every traveler making their way from California to the East. Boreal's parking lot ends where the Interstate's right of way begins. Travelers can't miss it, and when Boreal added lights and Night Skiing it truly became a beacon. Heading East, you can see the glow of Boreal's lights from several miles down the hill.

Back to the Race
Saturday, @borealmtn announced their Opening Plans. Their plan is to open Friday the 29th. They may make Halloween, but at this point Tuesday evening, I'm thinking Friday morning is a wee bit optimistic.

Through the magic of tele-presence (read webcams), I've been peeking in on Boreal's snowmaking progress. Looking at the Remote Data weatherstations, they look pretty good so far. The weaher hasn't been kind really, but the Mountain Crew wasted little time in farming up plenty of snow from their parking lot. They're gonna need a bunch of snow just to build the lift line maze area for the bottom terminal of the lift they'll run this weekend.

Boreal's snowmaking fans ran overnight into Tuesday. They shut down around 10AM. Tuesday night, they started blowing just a little by the time I peeked around 7:30PM, and things look to be going a little more their way at 8:30PM.

Are those SnoCat lights illuminating the maze area?
I perused WeatherUnderground's Truckee forecast page for some nearby Personal Weather Stations (PWS) The Central Sierra Snow Lab is just a mile as the crow flies from Boreal, and on the other side (western side) of the ridge in Soda Springs.

The Snow Lab is the closest online weather station I've found to Boreal. I'd wager it's data is pretty close to conditions on the hill at Boreal, save for the all-important Relative Humidity, and Wind Data. Boreal is more exposed to wind than the Snow Lab, which is a few hundred feet lower on the opposite side of the ridge. The Donner Summit gap has scouring winds that help keep humidities down up at Boreal's location. The Snow Lab is down near the woods, and faces the side of the big, wet Summit Valley, also known locally as Van Norden Meadow.

Power company PG&E once owned and operated a small hydroelectric dam that flooded Summit Valley. The impoundment was named Van Norden Reservoir. Faced with a huge price tag to bring the dam and powerhouse up to seismic standards in the 70's, PG&E opted to remove the dam.

When I moved to Soda Springs in 1980, there were still a few 14 ft tall tree stumps standing at the far eastern end of Summit Valley. Local lore says the stumps were made by Donner Party strandees foraging for firewood during that terrible Winter of 1846-1847. The stumps were made with axes, not saws.

Looking back in at Boreal's evening, it looks like they're getting more fans running...they could make it...providing the forecast plays along...

11:21PM Update
I just watched KCRA3's Senior Meteorologist Mark Finan's weathercast. Mark says the rain and snow for Thursday into Friday won't make it to Sacramento...much less the Tahoe Sierra.

Mark illustrated with the computer model that displays as a radar/satellite hybrid. Unfortunately the system comes ashore, the moisture band looks good, but doesn't advance easterly one bit.

A little chill went down my spine when I realized I'd seen similar images often during our last La Niña winter...I saw it way too often that season...the 2007-2008 La Niña fueled winter was a weak one. More times than I care to remember, good storms would come ashore, but all the moisture would move from the southwest to the northeast, and wouldn't get much east of the Foothills. It was frustrating watching all that potential pass by to our west.

That winter is remembered by it's below average snowfall, small crowds, and general frustration. It was not a great ski season.

This year's La Niña is already more robust than the 07/08 version...only time will tell if it's gonna turn out wet and well.

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