How do I know Sugar Bowl's Daily Snow Report is accurate?
Our reports are scientific! At the start of the 2016-17 ski season, scientists at the University of Nevada, Reno and Sugar Bowl partnered to study regional weather and the impacts of climate change in the Northern Sierra by way of installation of three weather stations. The installation provides important weather-related information to the public via the National Weather Service, US Forest Service and Sierra Avalanche Center, and provides us with important and accurate data for use in our daily snow reporting and Ski Patrol operations.
How do you report the snow accumulations, and how often?
We check and report the snow stakes every 12 hours at 530 AM/PM every day. we have four separate snow stakes, a 12 hour total, a 24 hour total, a system dump and a base depth reading. The 12 and 24 hour stakes are cleared respectively at those times, the system dump is cleared once that storm cycle has passed, which can sometimes be upwards of a week. For measurements posted to the Sugar Bowl website, we utilize the 12 hour stakes only, as snow settles throughout the day on the 24 hour and storm stakes.
Where are the snow stakes located at Sugar Bowl?
We have two different locations for our stake readings. One is near the base of Disney at roughly 6950ft, and the other is on Mt. Lincoln, roughly 750 feet from the top at about 7,600 ft. we do not measure on the ridge because snow stakes need to be in a flat spot that is not greatly affected by the sun and wind.
Who reads and reports the stake numbers at Sugar Bowl?
We have two snow reporters on site; they take turns every morning to ensure the snow reports are sent out by 6AM. You can read their daily "Snow Reporter's Notes" on our conditions page of the site. These same numbers are used by our Ski Patrol plus provided to Sierra Avalanche Center, National Weather Service, US Forest Service and other agencies for study and analysis.
Do you artificially inflate your snow totals?
No. To ensure complete accuracy, we double and triple check our totals every morning. We record what we see on the stakes, no more, no less. Even if there is high-wind and we know the snow has blown off the stake we only report what we see. If there is ever a question, we will consult with Ski Patrol to make sure they are seeing the same numbers.
Why are your totals different than nearby resorts ?
Weather patterns vary greatly in the region. The Sierra Crest where we sit generally receives the most snowfall thanks to orographic lifting, where an air mass is forced from a low elevation to a higher elevation as it moves over rising terrain. As the air mass gains altitude it quickly cools down, which can increase the relative humidity to 100%, essentially squeezing snow from the clouds. Additionally, all resorts take measurements from different elevations. The elevation where the snow levels begin can drastically impact snow totals on any given storm.
Is there a snow stake camera?
There are multiple cameras and angles at each station. Our Snow Reporters look at the cameras every morning and afternoon, however, they are not publicly available. If you want to see how much snow is accumulating, check the Powder Cam!
Why don't your snow totals match what I can see on the Powder Cam?
The Powder Cam sits in a wind-affected area and as such, it is not used for official measurement. Many times the Powder Cam can give you a great sense for the snow depths which is why the infamous boot sits out there to provide context. Also, note that the Sugar Bowl logo in view is 16" tall, so if the logo is buried it's going to be a great day.
Where on the mountain gets the most snow ?
That varies with each storm but in general north-facing forested slopes like the terrain off Crow's Peak, hold the most snow.