Monday, May 27, 2013

2013 Season Recap #2: Gimme gimme snow (and data)!

View of snow from hotel room in Denver
April 2013
I developed temporary amnesia about the early-season east coast winter conditions, as all of the snow that hit Colorado during April and the amazing season-end riding conditions at Copper provided strong distractions. The limited early-season snow and mild temperatures delayed the first Appalachian Series races, which originally were scheduled for the weekend of January 12-13 at Wisp. Since the races were canceled, and the weekend weather turned into springtime-shred warm, I ended up taking laps through the Alley jump line at Springs and in the process made some new friends from the Pittsburgh Intercollegiate Snowboard Team.

It felt weird to ride in t-shirts in the middle of January, even though we had some fun racing through the Alley. Since it had been so warm in PA, I was curious about long-term trends and searched through historical weather data sets for maximum and minimum temperatures recorded over multiple years for January 12.

Locations of weather stations in Westmoreland
and Somerset Counties

For the ACEP1 station (Donegal, PA, 1800ft elevation), the time series temperature data from 1944-2013 look like a total mess. 

Data from the Penn State Climatologist showing min and max
temperatures for January 12 across a range of years. 

Other stations showed an overall increase in temperature from 1972-2013 (LMPP1 station, Laughlintown, PA, 2759 ft elevation), and from 2007-2013 (KPACHAMP2, Seven Springs, PA, 2540 ft elevation). However, another nearby station collected another mess of data (with no obvious trend) from 2000-2013 (LAUP1, Laurel Mountain, PA, 2730 ft elevation). 

Available data from the Penn State Climatologist showing temperatures
for January 12 across a range of years. Average values represent an average of the
max and min value for the data point. 

I'm still confused about local temperature trends and connections with broader climate change issues, although my main conclusion from these data is that the temperature in southwestern PA on January 12 of any given year has the potential to fluctuate significantly. (PA long time residents, insert "duh!" here...) I checked in with the Magic 8 Ball, and asked “would you have predicted the same?” It’s reply was, “Yes, Definitely.” Even though this conclusion seems pretty obvious, it's nice to have some numbers behind it. 

Thankfully the temperatures remained cold enough in NY to build the boardercross course at Holiday Valley, and Jb, Gray and I were able to race later in January with the Western NY Series. The course was built with Nationals-style features and allowed for some speed, and the team ended up with a combined 8 gold medals for the first set of local boardercross races of the season!

Jb and Ale with medals

Before the NY races, we had Pittsburgh artist Dave Calfo place the Peak Performance Personal Training and theMountainAthlete logos on our race boards. Dave also added the Banana Peppers logo and DaybreakCarve website to my board, along with his own website since he became one of my sponsors this year. This sponsorship comes with pretty fantastic benefits, including specially-designed snow leopard art that Dave painted on my helmet.

Helmet art by Dave Calfo

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