Want to feel like a Stowe local? Read this quick overview about the resort’s local geography and weather patterns and you’ll be on your way.
Stowe is located about 20 miles east of Burlington and Lake Champlain and about 40 miles south of the Canadian border. This northern Vermont resort offers skiing on the eastern slopes of Mt. Mansfield, the highest point in Vermont at 4,395 feet. The top of lift-accessed skiing sits at 3,719 feet with a vertical drop of 2,160 feet.
This northern area of Vermont is a special place when it comes to snow as seasonal averages are similar to some of the bigger resorts in the western U.S. Indeed, yearly snowfall of greater than 300 inches puts Stowe in the league of resorts that top out over 10,000 feet in elevation in the Rockies and west coast.
The reason that such a high amount of snow falls on Stowe is its unique position next to much lower terrain. The shores of Lake Champlain to the west sit at about 200 feet while the ridgeline just above the upper lift measures more than 4,200 feet. As a cool, moist wind blows from the west and northwest, it is forced to rise 4,000 feet in elevation in less than 20 miles. As the air rises, it expands, cools and its moisture condenses into snow. This is called orographic lift and is the main cause of snowfall for this area of northern Vermont.
To ensure good coverage, Stowe augments the natural snow with snowmaking on 80 percent of its terrain. And while the mountain offers something for all abilities, the steep and noteworthy trails include Goat, National and Starr.
Now that you know the local geography and weather patterns at Stowe, the only thing left to do is enjoy your day on the hill. But of course no visit to the mountain is complete without spending time in the town of Stowe, which is one of the most picturesque villages in Vermont and is located just 6.6 miles down valley from the resort.
Joel Gratz is a meteorologist & the founder of OpenSnow.com.