Hello Everyone –
We are now in one of the busiest times of the season for the southeast ski industry and getting this season started has been like “Kick starting a 747”. Just when you thought the temperatures had turned cold, another warm blast hits and most of the resorts have to shut down snowmaking on numerous occasions. If you want to compare it to something, think of a farmer that plants his fields and hard rains wash everything out and the farmer has to start all over again. It hasn’t been quite that bad at the region’s ski resort this year, but pretty darn close.
This is typically the time of the year when resorts are opening additional terrain as holiday visitors for north to south are visiting. I can remember during my years at Snowshoe Mountain that many folks come to see snow for the FIRST time during their holiday trip to the mountains. This is true at every resort in the region because due to the snowmaking capabilities of all the resorts, a white Christmas can just about be guaranteed. This year that guarantee has been a bit difficult due to the inconsistency of the cold temperatures. If anyone has Mother Nature’s cell phone, please remind her that winter did start on December 22 and a little bit of help would be appreciated.
Now let’s talk about something that is appreciated by every skier and snowboarder out there from north to south to east and west. I am not talking about the amount of natural snow a resort reports, because that is a tough thing to calculate due to the amount of wind that usually occurs with snowfall in these parts. No, what I am referring to is base depths and how they can really (and I mean really) change, not in a matter of days, but over night. This site’s Editor, Mike Doble and I got into a philosophical discussion about the matter just the other day. We both came to the conclusion that base depths in these parts can sometime be compared to raising and falling of gas prices. Meaning, when the base depths drop, it happens at a snails pace (an inch or two here and there) and when the base depths climb, Katy bar the door (two feet over night can not be ruled out). This is the type of season that the snow gooses will take over the snow reports and well you probably know the rest of the story, just be aware, that’s all.
Fortunately, this region has done a pretty good job reporting the true conditions this season, but with the number of webcams skisoutheast.com (and the resorts) have out there, good and not so good conditions will be hard to hide.
So now it’s time to get back to the title of this week’s column “Time To Deal With It”. It is a fact that there is less terrain open right now than the last two years, but there is terrain OPEN. Most of you experienced with skiing and riding in the southeast probably don’t even make it to the slopes this time of year anyway, so deal with it. Every snowmaker is spending every available second making snow right now trying to open additional terrain. They are not in their garages playing cards to pass the time away. Understand this, they want to make snow, that’s what they are paid to do and the resorts are paying top dollar to the electric companies, even if they don’t use the snowmaking electricity. So they want the compressors and pumps generating the man made material, not sitting idle.
Remember the forecasts we published a couple of weeks ago in this space, well all of the meteorologists agreed this was going to be a challenging season weather wise and everyone will have to be patience and understand that fact. As we begin the new year it looks like everyone will have to “Deal With It”.
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 and soon I hope.
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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.