Earlier this week, a special weather advisory for a snowstorm over Friday and Saturday was issued. A classic Gulf of Alaska low tracking eastward across the Rockies. This synoptic pattern is known to produce upslope precipitation — lots of precipitation!
News of this forecasted storm, kept all of us on our toes as we scrambled to get everything prepared for the end of the week, before the official date of our field campaign. As we know well, storms don't care about trivial dates and will happen - field campaign or not. Our team quickly buckled down and prepared for an expected busy weekend, making sure that everything was ready for Fortress Mountain. This meant Michael Harwood and Robert Reed from ECCC were hard at work installing the instrumentation at Fortress Junction Service and Fortress Mountain, making sure the instruments were up and running for Friday. Michael and Robert did a wonderful job, transferring knowledge about the ECCC equipment that they are well accustomed to. However, there are a few remaining issues. Currently, the upper and lower Fortress sites do not communicate on the same network as there was no line of sight from both sites. This means that we are unable to access the products from the lower site while at Fortress Mountain (FJS). Although there are a few bugs, we are sure that these issues can be fixed remotely by Peter Rodriguez (ECCC) and the rest of the hardworking team.
On Thursday Mathieu and myself worked on the solar panel system for Nipika Mountain Resort, making sure that the solar panels that were generously borrowed from Nipika Mountain Resort worked with our planned system. We were unable to get an actual power draw reading from the laptop without a kill-a-watt electricity monitor. This device has since been purchased, and our plan is to calculate the draw when we get the chance.
Meanwhile, Hilary setup the snow macrophotography system and worked with Professor Theriault to work on the snow macrophotography protocols, and conducted a practice carsonde. One matter we kept debating was what the camera setup would look like. We’ve decided to try a fishing tent to take photos in. Hopefully it doesn’t blow away on us like in 2015! Don’t worry, this time it’s staked down!
Friday morning the models were forecasting precipitation in Kananaskis country around 1500 MDT (2100 UTC). The team gathered at 8AM whereby everyone was briefed with the expected storm and made a plan for the day. The whole team drove out to the top of Fortress Mountain whereby Robert Reed (ECCC) gave us a a tutorial on the ECCC website designed specifically for the SPADE project and the instruments used. Afterwards, the USask. team (Greg Galloway, Robin Heavens, Andre Bertoncini) plus myself uninstalled the parsivel at Fortress, which was then brought to Barrier Lake and deployed beside the MRR Pro. This same parsivel will be sent over to Nipika after the storm. Thanks to Greg and Robin for getting it setup before the storm, while the rest of us ran some errands in Canmore! Mathieu Lachapelle connected the parsivel to the computer and hooked it up to a power source which converted AC power to 24V DC and made sure that everything was running properly and we left for Fortress. Snow was starting upon our arrival, but still too warm to take snowflake macrophotography. We are now waiting at the trailer itching for some precipitation - snow is coming.
Field participants at Fortress Mountain: Hilary Smith, Mathieu Lachapelle, André Bertoncini & Juris Almonte