Saturday, December 25, 2010

White Christmas II: Platty's Xmas Gift That Keeps on Giving

Okay so my husband begged me not to post this today, saying “I’m skiing there tomorrow I don’t want anyone else there…” But, as we’re supposed to get walloped with snow and Platty has the rep for more snow than the other ski hills in the Catskills, I’ve set out to find the reason and called up News Channel 13 meteorologist Jason Gough, a man I’m so used to hearing on the news that actually speaking to him, I keep expecting him to break into the regional forecast.

From Albany and a skier, he sympathizes with my need to explain the snow, but as a scientist he insists on the numbers. So officially it’s not a slice of heaven or this little fairytale spot or something magical—even if it might feel that way to me. Technically it’s a combination of trailing lake effect snow (where water off Lake Erie and Lake Ontario evaporates and falls downwind of the lakes. As soon as the evaporated water runs into colder air, snow begins in earnest. And, Jason says, height helps especially the farther one gets from the lakes. In our case, on Plattekill. Lake effect snow is also technically what contributes to the 500 or so inches the Wasatch Range in Utah gets every year as Great Salt Lake water evaporates and snows on Alta …). Here it hits the slope of the mountain, which funnels the moisture up and creates precipitation.

While Jason says Nor’easters produce most of our snow in any given year (thank you weather gods for a nice Christmas present), Plattekill with its western-facing slopes benefits too. As he puts it, “If you were to geographically design a mountain in that spot, facing west is exactly what you’d want.”

While I had him on the phone I asked him to shake his snow globe and check his crystal ball. Would we get anything from La Nina? Officially no, but that’s also good, because some people say it will bring less snow. “We get no impact,” he says, “not a damn thing. Our snow comes from the Nor’Easters…” And, I might personally venture to add Plattekill’s secret slice o’ heaven…

If you want more facts you can tune into stats from Plattekill’s own weather station. And the mountain cam.

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