Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Sounds Like Instant Winter

A major storm seems to be headed this way. Predicted totals would be impressive in any year, not just one in which the Nordic areas have been living on a starvation diet.

As always, I'll believe it when I'm shoveling it -- or, in this case, driving in it. It will squat squarely on the first day of my work week, and day one of the twelve-day marathon of Massachusetts Vacation Week.

Two feet of fluff will lure skiers into the back-country, where the base is thin and avalanche hazard will be high. With very cold air in place, the snow will have little density. Once it settles, the initial 18 to 24 inches could quickly become 12 to 18. Fortunately, what fell in the last storm was also light and dry, so the layers will merge securely for the most part. I have not kept tabs on high elevations, so I don't know what crust layers might lurk there. Thin cover will likely be more of an issue than shearing between layers over an ice crust. And with the storm on a Wednesday, the steep slopes will have sloughed by Saturday.

In past winters we have seen the storm track shift so that the second half buried us. By April we had long ago forgotten what a disappointment January had been. But we've also seen one-storm winters, in which we waited and waited for that one big payoff and then clanked through the rocks under two feet of dust when we tried to wail on it.

On the groomies at Nordic centers the news is all good. The big machines may flatten two feet of pow' into eight inches of solid cover on the trail, but that's eight more than we had before.

Cold weather is predicted to continue through the week. After that, from a commercial standpoint, the weather doesn't really matter. But for real skiers, let's hope March brings what the rest of the season could not. And then it's on to kayaking and biking, unless you're really obsessed. But the really obsessed don't read me.

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