Summer Snow Storage Project Update

With ever shorter and warmer winters, a few cross country areas have looked into snow saving as a way to extend the season, or ideally start it much earlier. The idea is that during the winter, a ski area will blow enough snow in a giant pile, and then store it under wood chips all summer. When the temperature is low enough in the fall, they dig the snow out from under the wood chips and spread it out, creating early season skiing opportunities. Here at Craftsbury we’ve been lucky to be the subject of a UVM study to test out the feasibility of snow saving at the Outdoor Center. Read on for an update from the head of the study, Paul Bierman, on the latest on the ground in Craftsbury.

Panoramic view of snow storage off Wilbur’s

From Paul:

“UVM faculty (myself and Yves Dubief), Post-doc (Scott Hamshaw), and undergrad (Hannah Weiss) are testing feasibility of over summer snow storage at Craftsbury. To do this, we installed ground temperature monitors in June and have been surveying potential storage sites using ground based LIDAR – a technique that uses light to measure distance.

We’ve also been building computer models of snow piles to test how they would melt. We use weather data from past summers to drive the models. With scans that take only a few minutes, we can gather millions of survey points and create visualizations of the landscape accurate to the centimeter. We’ll use these to track melt of the snow piles over the summer but as a test, we measured the latest pile over the weekend (editor’s note- this was the weekend of December 9 and 10).  With software analyses, we determined that the pile held 2300 cubic meters of snow. Plenty to cover Lemon’s Haunt!

Our research is supported by loads of in kind work by the Outdoor Center and by the US National Science Foundation (LIDAR unit) as well as the Geology Department and School of Natural Resources at UVM.”

A LIDAR reflector on a tree (orange circle). There are 6 of them around the upper field and 8 around the Wilbur’s Pond Pit- can you find them all?

UVM undergrad Hannah Weiss explaining to CSU skiers how the system works as the UVM crew scans the current snow pile

Setting up to scan the pile with Lucas and the invaluable generator

Scanning the pile as skiers go past

Lucas watching our every move out by Wilbur’s

This is pretty cool stuff! Thanks to Paul and his team for coming out to do some preliminary research. We’re very eager to see the results of the study. In the meantime, make sure to check out the proposed snow storage site on the right as you’re coming through the final S-turns on the north end of Lemon’s Haunt.

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