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09/25/17, 02:52 AM

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Author Topic: How many freeze/thaw cycles to make tasty corn?  (Read 6660 times)
thatcherk1
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How many freeze/thaw cycles to make tasty corn?
« on: 01/26/17, 09:46 PM »

Friends,
How many freeze thaw cycles does it take to make decent corn? I'm looking at St. Helens for monday, and it's supposed to be mid 30s and sunny the next few days. Could that make nice snow for monday?

Sincerely, your news touring friend,
Thatcher
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Randy
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Re: How many freeze/thaw cycles to make tasty corn?
« Reply #1 on: 01/26/17, 11:19 PM »

It's way too early in the season to talk of corn.    Corn develops after the snowpack becomes isothermal in the spring and the surface re-freezes during clear skies overnight and then has surface melting from sunlight during the day.    During this time of year the sun is too low in the sky and shines for too few hours to do that.    When the Cascades get melt cycles during this time of year -- the melting is from warm air, not sunshine and since the overall snowpack hasn't gone isothermal and consolidated touring during these warm periods is a combination of high avalanche danger and unpleasant snow conditions  -- think many inches or even feet of mushy snow that is both heavy and chunky.    Corn is when the softened snow is only an inch or two deep and snowpack underneath is still firm.  That happens from solar heating -- not from warm winds.

Best to hope for a bit of new snow well bonded to the rain crust and not much wind.

Mt St Helens is a long long blue run -- so even if there is just a bit of new snow on top of the crust it can still be fun skiing.    But also be prepared for ice, sastrugi, wind crust and other exciting snow conditions.
« Last Edit: 01/26/17, 11:23 PM by Randy » Logged
frankfrank
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Re: How many freeze/thaw cycles to make tasty corn?
« Reply #2 on: 01/27/17, 01:15 AM »

January corn is possible (has happened in 2013, 2014, 2015 for sure), though I think it would need a stronger high pressure system than what we have had this year.

Here is Amar's report from a long period of especially-good weather in January 2014. See in particular the weather table after the first four photos. It seems the big thing then was that freezing levels were around 10000ft, with temperatures in the 40s-50s-60s at Paradise for many days.

It looks like this coming Saturday and Sunday will be a weaker version of this sort of warming, but Monday will be cooler again already. Forecast link

But I'm mostly guessing. You'll just have to go and see.
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NMaddox
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Re: How many freeze/thaw cycles to make tasty corn?
« Reply #3 on: 01/27/17, 07:20 AM »

We had similar plans, but access is difficult:  https://www.fs.usda.gov/recarea/giffordpinchot/recarea/?recid=64876

I called the ranger station and was informed the state had no money for the repairs.  No expected re-opening date.
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"All humans realize they are loved when witnessing the dawn... Absolved by light we decide to go on." -Rufus Wainwright
thatcherk1
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Re: How many freeze/thaw cycles to make tasty corn?
« Reply #4 on: 01/27/17, 07:53 AM »

Say it ain't so!!!
I was so looking forward to St. Helens this season. Maybe it'll be open before permit season begins.
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RonL
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Re: How many freeze/thaw cycles to make tasty corn?
« Reply #5 on: 01/27/17, 08:18 AM »

Thanks for linking this to Amar's report. That did feel like a lucky time to be skiing corn to the bridge but dampened with the thought of where are the storms and snowpack. It doesn't feel common but it occasionally happens that it warms long enough to give corn in juneuary

Winds also make it hard for me to predict those early first corn days especially when the forecast is just above freezing. Just a little wind chill seems to be enough to keep the crust around even though the temp readings show possible thaw.
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bwalt822
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Re: How many freeze/thaw cycles to make tasty corn?
« Reply #6 on: 01/30/17, 10:02 AM »

I think we had great corn develop on the nisqually chutes in January in about 5 to 7 days of warmish sunny days.  The rest of the snowfield was an icy mess but the chute was great.

One issue with this time of year is that corn can be elevation dependent.
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Jim Oker
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Re: How many freeze/thaw cycles to make tasty corn?
« Reply #7 on: 01/30/17, 11:39 AM »

Perhaps academic for this year, unless you are up for the lengthened approach. But it can  be "corn-like" without a real big melt-freeze granules and consolidated to-depth. It all depends on timing and luck. I hit St Helens in March a few years back after a small bit of fresh snow hit the upper mountain and then there had been  a few sunny warm days, on the morning after one  clear night. I started early, moved relatively fast (for  me - I was setting no speed records though...), and started down a ways before noon. It was firm  for the  first little bit from the  top, but the skiff of fresh snow made that pretty OK, and then  I hit a long stretch on which the surface had melted down  a bit, but not enough to punch through the crust. Down toward where things flattened out a bit the  warming had made it through the crust so it was classic "riding the canoe" style skiing down to the  flats. It was a very fun day out with much of the  turns on snow that felt very  much like smooth spring corn. But I'm sure if I was a bit later on my descent it would have been somewhat less fun.
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telemack
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Re: How many freeze/thaw cycles to make tasty corn?
« Reply #8 on: 01/30/17, 12:57 PM »

We had similar plans, but access is difficult:  https://www.fs.usda.gov/recarea/giffordpinchot/recarea/?recid=64876
Thanks for the link, Nick.  At least the bad news helps us plan.
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