WHAT THE EXPERTS THINK
11.25.13 11:00 AM
Hello Everyone -
Don’t look now but things have been pretty busy at all of the ski resorts in the region recently because Mother Nature has provided some very nice snowmaking temperatures. I saw Snowshoe’s snowmaking up close and personal over the weekend and they are going to be in very good shape when they open for the season this Wednesday, November 27. Again this year, the first alpine resorts to take advantage of the favorable snowmaking situation were Sugar and Cataloochee in North Carolina but the first area to actually open was White Grass Touring Center in the north central region of West Virginia. That area offered cross country skiing and snowshoeing when natural snow fell in the backcountry of Tucker County.
Like I have done the last couple of years, I thought for my first column of the season, I would check out what some weather experts thought was going to take place this season for skiers and snowboarders in the Southeast and mid-Atlantic regions. I have seen a lot of pictures and video from resorts in the region of snowmaking and things are looking very nice. So I wanted to look into the snow globe a bit to see how some weatherman felt about the upcoming season. So here goes.
Let’s check in with Spencer Adkins, Chief Meteorologist for WOWK-TV in Charleston/Huntington, WV and see what is on his mind: I wouldn't call what I do on the slopes skiing, it's more like "organized falling." Therefore nobody likes soft, cushy powder more than this guy. That said, I know everyone was let down when the official government forecast for December-January-February showed "equal chances" of above or below normal temps and precipitation in this ski region.
Anybody who knows me knows I am usually very conservative when it comes to snow total forecasts but all of the factors I have listed, not to mention good snow and ice cover already in place over the northern portion of the planet, lead me to a very ski friendly outlook. I've seen a peek at a few recent mid-range climate models that indicate the first part of the ski season should be great for the arrival of some natural snow and nice conditions, especially at night, to continue to crank out the manmade snow that will also help build a big base. Even if we experience a late ski-season warm up, as some experts predict, a deep early base won't melt off too quickly. Plus that just makes it nice to get out and ski anyhow!
So my overall prediction is a cold, snowy early season with some great ski conditions, leading to many smiles on the faces of avid winter outdoors enthusiasts. I also predict that if I can get out to the slopes myself this season, I'll be easily identifiable. I'll be the guy encased in a helmet and bubble wrap. Happy fresh powder days to you!
The weather pattern that yields cold and dry winters usually comes with frequent bursts of cold air with strong northwest winds. While this does not provide much precipitation for areas east of the Appalachians, that same northwest wind races up the western side of the Appalachians, forms clouds, and often times, snow.
Additionally, cold and dry air is ideal for snowmaking. So even in an absence of the classical big snow storms that ride up the East Coast, the weather pattern is still conducive to good ski conditions from Maryland to North Carolina.
For a complete look at Sean’s winter outlook, check out his blog:
Here are the specifics for the Wintercast for the ski resorts in the Mid-Atlantic to Southeast. I'm forecasting for a near-average December, but that may come from some real warm days in the month balanced with a couple of cold outbreaks. With the cold starting to win more at the end of the month, it could give us at least a better chance for a little snow for Christmas. We're going to be prone to a couple of brutal outbreaks of arctic air in January making it a much colder than average month and harsh compared to last year's mild January. With the cold, we'll have several bouts of light snowfall, with the upslope flow really boosting totals for the resorts in West Virginia and western Maryland. Also, with the cold, temperatures will be ideal for snowmaking which may help to make up the lack of big storms for some of the resorts. I'm thinking the cold will last into February but then the chill should start to ease and shift westward by the end of the month so we will have a much earlier peak in the ski season compared to the late season surge we had last year. I think the cold will ease quickly through March and we will end up a little above average by the end of the month and much warmer than last year. So right now the odds of skiing into April may be small.
In the central Pacific, a very weak El Nino is in place, and that should help energize the southern branch of the jet stream somewhat…enough to produce at least a few of those important southern track lows through the winter that often bring the central and southern Appalachians their biggest snows.
The current distribution of water temperatures in the Atlantic lends itself to a blocking pattern up towards Greenland, which could work hand in glove with a western ridge to allow an eastern U.S. trough to dominate this winter. All in all, I think that these three signs point to a solid winter in the East, from New England all the way down to the southern Appalachians.
So now you have a little insight what the experts think for this year’s weather. It seems that all “in the know” think conditions for Appalachian riding (skiing and boarding) will end up being okay this year again due to the snowmaking capabilities of all of the resorts in the southeast region. Nothing better than some good old fashion snowmaking power to put smiles on winter lover’s faces.
That’s it for the season’s first column, 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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