I was going to begin today’s post with the comment that "great minds think alike" but that would offer the presumption that I actually have one… a great mind that is. Okay, I HAVE a mind, or more accurately a brain and this morning evidently it had the same thoughts that were on the mind of Snowshoe’s Laura Parquette, which COULD be a scary thought for Laura!
This particular same thought was that Wednesday was one of those days that should teach us all that we shouldn’t necessarily allow weather forecasts to dictate our plans. The forecast for Wednesday was for rain to pretty much make for a "non-ski" day. That never materialized and actually Wednesday was yet another great day to be on the slopes.
As Laura suggested on her post this morning – the fact that all the weather gurus missed Wednesday’s forecast gives us a little hope that the forecast for this weekend might not be perfect as well.
From mid December through March 4th the ski mountain communities of the Southeast and mid Atlantic have experienced the kind of snows and cold temps that every resort manager dreams about. Well ALMOST anyway. If resort operators had their fingers on the master weather machine they’d make it just cold enough off the mountain to keep people from getting interested in golf, tennis or lake activities until around May. They also make it such that snow fell only in the mountains but never on the roadways. They’d probably like to find the master controller to perfect exactly what words come out of every weather forecaster in the region as well. A 30% chance of rain would never be mentioned, because after all there’s a 70% chance that it won’t rain, right?
Using that glass-half-full mentality here’s the forecast for this weekend around the ski areas:
The WV ski areas are looking at highs in the low 50s for Friday, low 40s for Saturday and Sunday. There’s a 30% chance it WON’T rain on Friday and a 20% chance that it won’t rain on Saturday. There’s a 40% chance that it might be a mixed rain/snow event on Sunday.
Hey, this is fun. Come to think of it, if ski management peeps had control of the weather verbiage then when there’s SNOW chances we’d keep the current system. So let’s rewind the tape and say that on Sunday there’s a 60% of snow. (…but a 40% chance it won’t rain.)
Now I’m confused.
The Virginia ski resort areas are looking at a 20% chance that it won’t rain on Friday and somehow there’s no chance in heck that it won’t rain Friday night. (The NWS is forecasting a 100% of rain overnight.) On Saturday there’s not a chance that they won’t get HEAVY RAIN. Sunday there’s a 50/50 shot that it won’t rain. Highs are forecasted in the upper 50s for Friday, Saturday and Sunday.
You know, I think that reversing the percentages and verbiage is actually more depressing in some cases.
The North Carolina ski areas are looking at much more of a toss up weather-wise. Friday, Saturday and Sunday all offer close to equal chances that it will or won’t rain. Highs Friday and Saturday should be in the 50s and Sunday’s highs will be in the mid 40s or a little higher.
Reading back over this, I think that I might have just provided the most useless weather forecast of my 14 years "career" of reporting on this website!
According to most weather peeps it will be a wet 72-96 hours ahead for most of the region and that will certainly keep the skier visit numbers down and perhaps prompt some last minute cancellations for this weekend.
It is what it is.
OUR READERS OFFER SOME PREDICTIONS OF THEIR OWN
We have a lot of wannabe weather gurus within our reader base. Several are probably more qualified than just "wannabes". With all of the resources available to anyone with a keyboard and some fingers to tap out some web addresses – just about anyone these days can do some amatuer forecasting of their own. Several messageboard members post their data and insight on messageboard threads… and several have emailed us within the last 48 hours to predict varying forms of the fact that Winter is over.
I checked out some of my own resources and looked in on what several respected weather gurus are saying and there are NO COLD outbreaks in sight and with chances of rain not only this weekend – but next…we might see a few ski areas pull the plug sooner than we’d like. For those resorts that have already posted closing dates – trust us they will honor them. With all the snow on the slopes there’s enough to ski and ride til May if they wanted to remain open that long.
I didn’t have time to request permission to use full names on this report so I’ll honor their privacy. However check out these comments that have come in lately:
Tim S. of Hartsville, SC wrote, "I’ve been a fan of your site for as long as I can remember. I was noticing that Appalachian is reporting a base of 84-120" of snow. According to your report they are losing 2-3" per day with the milder weather lately. If that trend held then they wouldn’t lose all their snow until mid April. Is that right? That seems a long time for snow to hang around when temperatures get into the 70s. "
Actually Tim – you probably have too much time on your hands! If your calculations are correct then you’d probably be more accurate than you know, but let me assure you that I’d bet that somewhere – in some protected area where the snow has been packed – I’ll bet there’s still snow on the ground into May. I know that’s been the case in the past at several ski areas.
Janet R. of Roanoke wrote, "Stick a fork in this season, winter is over. According to accuweather there’s no more cold headed our way and it might not snow again until November or December. Too bad."
Janet, whatever you do DON’T join our messageboard and post a message like that one! I would not want to be responsible for what the guys and gals over there might do to a statement like that one! I just shuttered! The FACT is if you are correct (which I doubt you are) the ski areas don’t need anymore cold and snow to hit. There’s so much snow on the trails right now that… oh just look at the previous "letter". There are plenty of good ski and snowboarding days left before the resorts shut down ski ops.
Like my brothers and sisters within the resort management crews would tell you guys, they ALL have amazing and sustainable base depths across all of their slopes and trails. A little rain certainly won’t do too much damage to more than 5 feet of snow that is packed across most of the ski resorts of the region.
ONE LAST SHARED EMAIL TODAY…
Robin T of Winston-Salem wrote, "With all of that snow that you keep saying the resorts have, why wouldn’t they stay open? They’ve all obviously made a ton of money this season! Why not keep things open and reward their season pass holders and pick up some late season stragglers?"
Oh brother! I could go on F-O-R-E-V-E-R on this one. I could make political affiliation presumptions and tick off readers. I could equate this question to the likely age of the writer or the lack of an IQ…and tick off more readers.
But I didn’t…
What I WILL state as an answer is that all ski resorts are FOR PROFIT businesses. Some have to answer to stock holders. All HAVE to make a handsome profit to be able to re-invest in their infrastructure. Lift upgrades, building renovations and upkeep are not cheap. The list could go on and on.
All you need to know about why ski areas simply close up when the numbers no longer make sense – is to go to Google and do a search for – ski resort bankruptcy. There are 6,750,000 results for that search and you can read all you need to know about ski resort financial failures. The resorts that are operating in the Southeast and Mid Atlantic have ALL had their financial difficulties over the years. Many went through financial restructuring and early woes during their founding years and they are ALL to be credited for operating through some troubled waters over the years.
Appalachian Ski Mountain’s Brad Moretz had actually given me some great information before this season began – about a great storyline to write about and even create messageboard threads for. The idea was based on LOST SKI AREAS of the region. We researched the subject and actually there are MORE ski areas that started and since closed in the Southeast and Mid Atlantic than we have open these days!
My apologies to Brad for not having YET gotten around to sharing that story and initiating the messageboard threads. (Brad I PROMISE to make that happen down the road.)
The point is that resorts can’t simply stay open past the point when it no longer makes sense financially to remain open.
That’s it for today…
We’re on day 105 and there are 32 more days of opportunities to enjoy the snow for the 2009-2010 ski and snowboarding season!