NOT SOON ENOUGH? – by Joe Stevens

Hello Everyone –

Recently I have been waking up each day having to check the calendar to make sure that we are in January, meaning the winter season – you know, that time of year when daytime temperatures average in the upper 30s and over night lows are in the low 20s. The time of year when it is not usual for the region to receive a dump of snow that opens trails overnight. The time of year when a three-day holiday weekend traditionally brings milder temperatures to remind the resort operators there are located in the southeast. But this year, resort operators have been given only a handful of snowmaking opportunities since mid-December.

In my last column I suggested skiers and snowboarders to hang in there because cold weather would be returning soon. However that soon may not be soon enough for a number of operators. A group of resorts in Pennsylvania, Virginia and North Carolina have had to suspend on-slope operations (you will never see the “c” word in this column) and most are just hanging on. There are some cold temperatures and frozen precipitation in this week’s forecast which just may be a Martin Luther King weekend savor for most. Skiers and snowboarders are just going to have to understand the conditions are going to be what they are and they are marginal. What the skiers and snowboarders do have going for them are the groomers and snowmakers in the region and I have no doubt they will be spreading their magic.

Enough said.

A lot of people have been digging for ANY information for what might be taking place – weather-wise – in the days ahead and I can share at least one experts forecast. I spent some time recently visiting with Herb Stevens, the host of The Skiing Weatherman. Herb’s weekly conditions and regional forecast can be seen on TV stations in Raleigh, Charlotte, Greensboro, Richmond, Roanoke, Norfolk, Charleston, WV, Washington, DC, etc. The veteran meteorologist truly believes the situation is going to break right after the middle of January. Herb says skiers and snowboarders can anticipate below normal daily highs and lows, giving resort operators plenty of snowmaking opportunities, probably around the clock. Most resorts are going to have to start covering the slopes from the beginning or patching some severe thin areas. The stars or clouds according to Herb are lining up for plenty of daily cold temperatures and plenty of natural snowfall that will make everyone head to slopes. Now wouldn’t it be something if there was so much natural snow that it is tough to get to the resorts. Let’s not even think about, okay?!?

The subject of this story is that snowmaking conditions are coming, just when and how much is the unknown. The one thing I don’t want to see is that mid-January “End Of The Season” sale at your local ski and snowboard shop. But that’s another gripe for another column. Just remember the snowmakers and groomers are doing the best they can.

That’s it for this week, more to come as the season continues, just be patient as whether it be cold or whether it be hot, we’ll whether the weather, whatever the weather will be. Think about it! See you on the slopes.