Water Content / Snow Density
Originally Posted by GrooK
This states that Vail has the "purest" powder? Why is it not #1 then? Where can snow with the lowest water content be found in America - what resort??
Tony Crocker has a page on his website Snow Quality--the Issue of Water Content and Temperature at http://members.aol.com/crockeraf/snoqlnet.htm
which can also be found by selecting Temperature & Water Content from the left navigation menu at www.bestsnow.net
Total Water to Total Snow
Alpine Meadows 14.5%
Mt. Hood Meadows 15.7%
Stevens Pass 13.1%
Bridger Bowl 7.2%
Jackson Hole 9.3%
Mt. Washington 17.6%
Of the resorts listed by Tony, Taos snowfall had 6.2% water content. I think this was based on data from the Westwide Network from 1979 to 1995.
Tony Crocker/others may be able to comment on other resorts around the world that have low water content snowfall. Also, Tony may have done more recent analyses which include data after 1995. I would be interested in the snowfall water content average at other resorts in Europe, South America (Las Lenas, Portillo), New Zealand, Australia, Canada (Whistler), Canadian heliskiing mountain ranges (Cariboo, Monashee, Purcell, Selkirk), and Alaska heliskiing mountain ranges (Chugach, Todrillo, Talkeenta, Takinsha, Chilkat).
If you look at the Alta Snowfall History www.alta.com/pages/snowhistory.php
under the Snow Report & Weather menu, you will see that the water content (24 hour snow density) varies from month to month with an average of 8.55% based on data from 1980 to present.
Oct Nov Dec Jan Feb Mar Apr Monthly Average
Density 11.57% 8.33% 7.82% 7.79% 7.59% 8.09% 8.69% 8.55%
To see the water content variation by storm, look at 2006-2007 www.alta.com/pages/0607history.htm
as an example, the water content varied from a low of 3.25% for 4.0" of snow on 1/31/07 to a high of 27.5% for 2.0" of snow on 2/16/07.
Originally Posted by beyond
I'm really surprised by water content data presented earlier here. Sites that record snowfall, snow density, NOAS, etc. all tend to note that Utah has microenvironments canyon by canyon, so Park City area gets weather more like Jackson Hole and NW Colo; all tend to have moderate water content, compared to Alta/Snowbird, which has a totally different pattern, less water. Which fits my personal experience; Alta has MUCH lighter pow than Vail or Jackson. Yet these data say Vail has the lowest water content of all. My skiing just doesn't back this up.
Tony Crocker/others may be able to comment on the why the data shows Vail having lower water content than Alta/Snowbird. Perhaps there are factors (elevation, etc.) that affect the data from the sensors. I don't recall seeing the elevation data for Vail, Wolf Creek, Castle Mountain B.C., or Steamboat sensors used for the water content calculation by Tony.