Hello Everyone –
At the end of each column there is an explanation what I do for a day job and that includes handling information on West Virginia Ski Areas Association’s Facebook page. Yesterday a comment was posted on the page asking what the conditions were going to be around March 25? My first reaction was how in the world do I know and why would someone think I would have any sort of a clue? Then I got to thinking and as my wife would tell you, that can really get me into trouble sometimes.
So why would someone ask such a question? Maybe just maybe they want to be sure or have some kind of a good feeling about the decision they are going to make about spending their hard earned money on a vacation into the mountains during the month of March and let gravity be their friend. As a family we have already made our plans to head to the eastern shore of North Carolina in August and I am not the least worried what the weather is going to be during our stay. You see that’s the big difference between traveling in the winter for vacation and traveling in the summer for a good time, vacationers are more weather dependent for having winter fun because there is a major component and that’s snow and hopefully lots of it.
My point, with the way weather is forecast these days there is probably a website out there that will give you a forecast for the last week of March. I’m sorry but I think I would have a better chance of winning the lottery than knowing what the weather is going to be six weeks from now. A self-serving plug here, the two meteorologists on this site, Brad Panovich and Herb Stevens have traditionally given a more close in look at what everyone can expect from Mother Nature. Both of these weather guys have personally told me that the odds of being correct drop considerably after the forecast reaches 48 hours. I have also been told the same thing by one of the head weather folks at The Weather Channel, but they still will give you a 15-day outlook and the last time I check that laps the 48 hour rule in a big way.
So why do weather services see the need to forecast that far out? That’s because of you, you and you. During this era of the 24 hour news gorilla, everyone wants to know what’s going on now, not at 6 or 11 or in the morning or afternoon (if you still have one in your area) papers or even your favorite radio news station. You want to know especially when you are reaching deep into your pocket to pay for that good time that is so weather dependent. But I am here to tell you that if you are looking way far out and hoping that you can obtain reliable weather information you are out of luck. It’s one of life’s little mysteries that you are going to just have to deal with even though you probably can find someone to give you the information you were looking for. Just don’t bank on it or I am afraid you are going to be disappointed. Then again the forecast might end up being 100 percent correct and the news cycle will continue and those long distance weather forecasters will be saying, see I told you so. Well this is one person that will not buy it and I don’t recommend you to buy it either.
Now that we are on the subject, are you as tired as I am on these snow forecasts that have popped up the last couple of years that have a range as wide as the Grand Canyon? Are the weather forecasters telling us what we want to hear, what they want us to hear or what really is going to happen and with the range as wide as they have been scared to be wrong or just want to be able to say they were right. There was a day when we would get a forecast with snowfall predications of one to two inches, six to seven inches or even one to two feet. Now what we get is one to six inches, five to eleven inches or even up to three feet of snow. Now with that wide of a range anyone can be right, can’t they? I just wish the weather folks would bring it back to earth a bit and actually go out on the limb with a more conservative forecast when it comes to snow. Just saying, that’s all.
That’s it for this week, more to come as the season continues, just remember whether it be cold or whether it be hot, we’ll weather the weather, whatever the weather will be. Think about it! See you on the slopes!
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Joe Stevens, a member of the southeast ski industry since 1990 is a regular columnist for skisoutheast.com and serves as the Communications Director for the West Virginia Ski Areas Association.