Hello Everyone –
Just like paying taxes on April 15 or opening presents from Santa Claus on December 25, skiers and snowboarders can mark their calendar every season for the annual January thaw. Along with that thaw comes the question, “Is there any snow left on the mountains?” I am here to say that yes, the annual January thaw has now come and gone and yes, there is tons upon tons of snow on the slopes of every resort in the southeast region.
Last week’s mild temperatures did take away from some of the base that the snowmakers had worked hard to put on the slopes and yes, there were some thin areas but you “Doubting Thomases” out there need not worry, everything is just fine for skiers, snowboarders and snowtubers. I was able to attend the grand opening of Canaan Valley Resort’s Snow Tubing Hill this past Friday and was blown away with the amount of coverage the resort’s snowmakers had put on the hill. One of the toughest things for mountain managers to do is devote enough fire power to cover a tubing hill because it takes a lot of snow due to the continued traffic the terrain gets from the tubes.
On the alpine terrain, I was pleased to not see any bare spots, meaning the manmade snow is doing its job and holding strong.
Now this gets me to another point, is anybody listening or watching out there. I am referring to the fact that the two main weather guys on this website, Brad Panovich and Herb Stevens have been saying for two weeks that a mild period was coming but it wouldn’t last very long. They weren’t hiding a thing even mentioning there was going to be some “under developed” snow, on and off during the period, so don’t say you weren’t warned. But again I hear, “The resorts hid the fact that the weather wasn’t going to be perfect for our trip.” If anyone says they can’t find weather information these days about a certain area they are just not trying, plain and simple.
Both Herb and Brad had indicated that cold temperatures are returning this week and maybe even some natural snow. So calm down and get excited about your upcoming trip if you have one planned, and if you don’t, you might want to consider planning one. Another good point that both weather guys made in their reports this week was the fact that manmade snow lasts longer in milder temperatures since it has higher water content and less air, meaning it doesn’t melt as fast as natural snow. So again, stop worrying and start planning your next trip.
I guess my point with all this is the fact that if anyone didn’t expect a thaw this time of year, they have a very short memory. It has happened every year I have been in this business and it is going to happen again. The resorts in the region know it is going to happen and plan accordingly. You need not wonder why you see big piles of snow here and there, because that is the snow that gets the resorts through periods like the one we just went through. I emphasize went through because it is over and done with and true winter weather is now again upon the region. And if you don’t believe me just check out Herb’s or Brad’s weather report on this website, both forecasts are updated a couple of times each week to keep everyone up to speed on the weather situation so that no one is guessing or have to ask that “Is there any snow left on the mountain?”
Now while I am thinking about it, I am using this space to give a little shout out to the only locally owned and operated ski shop in Charleston, West Virginia, SportMart Superstore. I heard their latest radio commercial this week about an equipment sale and not one mention about an end of the season sale, which the national brand stores have already started. Buddy and Bob at SportMart are telling everyone that the conditions are great and there is plenty of snow at the resorts and they have the equipment to have fun with while making those turns. By the way, SportMart is a member of the West Virginia Ski Areas Association and have always promoted skiing, snowboarding and snowtubing not only in West Virginia but throughout the region. My point, you can never go wrong when doing business with a locally owned operation and come to think of it, most resorts in the region are locally owned.
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.