The precipitation gauge transect from Nipika to the continental divide is drawn in red. Each tipping bucket is marked with a yellow pin. Yellow pins outside of the transect denote places where additional weather measurements are currently being obtained, or could be obtained in the future. The Fortress SPADE site is located in the upper right hand corner of this map.
Hadleigh, Cécile, and Selina departed Radium Hot Springs for Nipika Mountain Resort at 1530 UTC for a fantastic mountain journey. Our mission was to deploy a transect of tipping bucket rain gauges from the Nipika site to the continental divide.
Unfortunately, an inspection of the Nipika site at 1030 MDT revealed that the Parsivel disdrometer had a timeout error and, consequently, two days of fine weather Parsivel information was missing from our computer (although the instrument itself was still puttering along nicely). Hadleigh quickly restarted the Parsivel software, and this disdrometer information easily flowed back onto the computer screen, with this display remaining flawless for the rest of the day. The rest of the site was in excellent shape, with all other instruments functioning normally. The only site visitors were probably the usual collection of birds and ground squirrels. After a bit of wire wrestling, we successfully deployed a HOBO tipping bucket rain gauge at this site to serve as a reference for our precipitation gauge transect.
At 1745 UTC Cécile, Hadleigh, and Selina departed for the end of the Cross Resource Road. Although a previous reconnaissance mission had revealed that most of this road was passable, we had no idea where washouts or the snow line would foil our mission. Thankfully, our main impediment was a large cinnamon black bear enjoying tasty morsels on the road. Due to great road conditions, we were able to climb up to 47 kilometres of the Cross RR, to an elevation of 1665 m, almost as close to Fortress as a road could take us. We deployed Odyssey Tipping Bucket 1 at this site, on the edge of the snow line, with ice clad cliffs and soaring peaks looming over over us. Subsequently, Odyssey Tipping Bucket 2 was deployed at 32.5 km on the Cross RR beside a small bridge above a turquoise stream, at the intersection of two huge valleys. Odyssey Tipping Bucket 3 was deployed at 23.25 km on the Cross RR, in a burn overlooking the intersection of two ravines. At this point the other side of valley suddenly flattened to the northwest, near the edge of the Kootenay River valley. A pleasant wind could be felt rushing up the valley towards us.
With the transect fully deployed, we returned to the Nipika site just after 2230 MDT, to check on the Parsivel. With all instruments at the site still functioning beautifully, we returned to Radium Hot Springs, waving to a family of black bears as we drove along the highway.
Successful deployment of the precipitation gauge trajectory would not have been possible without the enthusiastic support of both Hadleigh and Cécile. I am very grateful for Hadleigh serving as an accomplished chauffeur and carpenter, and for Cécile lending her skills in photography and inReach communication.
Field Participants: Hadleigh Thompson, Cécile Carton, & Selina Mitchell
Over the past few days the Nipika team was able to test our solar panels, to see if our theory matched real life situations. Powering the MRR and the laptop required to run the MRR and parsivel was our biggest challenge at Nipika. Long story short, our solar power system worked out better than we had anticipated and was able to power the equipment throughout the night - SUCCESS! Here’s a few more details worth noting:
At Nipika we have 2 x 24V panel systems set in series, which through the use of a charge controller was regulated to a 12 V system, powering our 2 12V batteries that are connected in parallel. The solar panels are right outside the trailer, where the charge controller, batteries, inverter, and laptop are housed. The idea is the solar panels keep the batteries charged and the batteries are then what power the parsivel and inverter. The inverter provides a clean AC sine wave power source to the MRR2 and laptop. It was the happiest moment seeing our plans realized, and ultimately a huge weight lifted off our shoulders!
The first two days April 29 and 30 were spent setting up the trailer, one of two solar panels and the tripod for the parsivel. We were unable to install the MRR the previous two days because we had a missing part of MRR pro tripod. Andre Bertoncini (USask) and Cecile Carton (UQAM) drove from the eastern side to drop off a new tripod and our second 300 W solar panel that Nipika Mountain Resort had graciously lent us.
Monday was a training day for Cécile and Charlie from UQAM. Snow was fairly light and off and on throughout the day. It provided a good opportunity for André and I to teach Cécile and Charlie the proper way to take photos and observations without being too stressed out with the weather. Hydrometeors were mostly rimed dendrites and graupel. The sky started clearing and precipitation ended around 0100 UTC on April 30 so we were able to go home and have a relatively early night! It was a nice break after the crazy weekend.
Field participants: Cécile Carton, Charlie Hebert-Pinard, André Bertoncini, & Hilary Smith
What a busy weekend – I don’t think any of us have ever been so exhausted and excited! The upslope precipitation materialized and brought with it a lot of snow!
As mentioned in a previous blog post, we rushed on Friday to get supplies, finish setting up the site, and make sure that we knew how to work all the instruments. I (Hilary) stayed up at the site on Fortress so that I was available for measurements just in case precipitation came earlier than expected. The day started out beautifully and was really warm when the sun was out. Light snow started around 0000 UTC on April 27 (6 pm MDT) and tapered off shortly afterwards.
Mathieu & Juris arrived at this time, which gave me a well-deserved break. André arrived a few hours later. Snow occurred around 4 hours later than the forecast was predicting and it did not really pick up until the early evening, around 0310 UTC (9 pm MDT) and it was heavy with light winds for almost 2 hours. Particles were mostly small dendrites that were heavily rimed (pictured below). We anticipated a busy night, therefore we split into pairs with Hilary & Juris taking the 0400 UTC to 0800 UTC shift, while Mathieu & André rested underneath the tables in the trailer. During the first shift (Hilary & Juris) observed nearly 1 hour period of heavy snow which began as lightly rimed particles and as the precipitation became heavier, densely rimed aggregates were then observed. Often rimed dendrites and undistinguishable smaller rimed particles were observed. At 0600 UTC (0000 MDT) fog was present and made for very reduced visibility. Fog cleared shortly after 0900 UTC April 27 (0300 MDT) and the winds picked up significantly with strong gusts and resulted in blowing snow. Once the sun rose, Mathieu & Andre left Fortress to have a quick rest at BGI, while Juris & I stayed to make observations. During that time it was cloudy, with minimal snow, light winds, and fairly good visibility. Mathieu & André returned to Fortress to let Juris & I go to BGI to have a bit of a rest.
Snow began to fall around 2000 UTC (1400 MDT) at Fortress and became heavy quickly. Juris & Hilary left BGI around 2330 UTC (1730 MDT) when the snow became heavy to head back to Fortress. The highway to Fortress was pretty snow covered with poor visibility in some sections. We took over observations from Mathieu and Andre when we got back to Fortress. Snow was still very heavy. Over the course of the evening/night, we saw some very interesting particles such as capped columns, bullet rosettes, stellars, hollow columns, and various types of dendrites.
The snow ended around 1100 UTC on April 28 (0500 MDT) while Mathieu & André were sleeping. Juris & I went to hang out in the lounge. Snow depth was approximately 30 cm by the end of the storm. This meant that we were snowed in at the top! We backed up some data and hung around the lounge for a few hours before some trucks drove the road to the top and made a path for us to drive down. We took snow measurements every 100 m change in elevation on the way down and noticed a significant change in snow depth – from 30 cm at around 2100 m to 5 cm at 1600 m.
We returned safely to BGI for some much needed rest. All in all, it was a very exciting (and exhausting) weekend. A very big start to the project!
Field participants: André Bertoncini, Mathieu Lachapelle, Juris Almonte, & Hilary Smith