First to the good stuff…this story appeared in the Roanoke Times yesterday as was passed to us by Jessica Scowcroft of Timberline Resort in WV.
Rain not a big damper for ski areas By Mark Taylor
With a heavy rain falling Thursday morning and not a single person on the slopes, Massanutten Resort officials shut down for the day at about 10 a.m.
The reason for the closure was listed on the resort’s Web site as: "Flash Flood Warning."
"I needed to come up with something creative," said a chuckling Steve Showalter, the ski area general manager.
Showalter really wasn’t stretching things too much.
The storm system that brought heavy rains to the region actually did prompt the National Weather Service to issue flood watches and warnings across parts of Virginia.
A heavy rain event in early December could be bad news for mid-Atlantic ski areas in some years, but the storm’s impact should be minimal this year.
Colder-than-normal weather in recent weeks allowed ski areas to work their snowmaking systems overtime to build substantial snow bases.
West Virginia resorts enjoyed the added bonus of good amounts of natural snow.
The rain will reduce bases, but shouldn’t lead to lost terrain. Cold temperatures on the back end of the system were forecast to produce some snow starting Thursday night and will allow resorts to get back to snowmaking.
"It should be good snowmaking weather," said Jessica Scowcroft, the marketing and public relations manager at Timberline Resort in West Virginia.
Somewhat ironically, the rain is helping Massanutten’s snowmaking operation. The resort has made so much snow that its pond is dry and in need of recharging.
"I have 20 million gallons of water on the hill," Showalter said.
Because of the cold weather in mid- to late-November, many resorts were able to open earlier than in recent years.
"We opened on Nov. 28," Showalter said. "It’s the first time we’ve opened in November since 1996."
Even in years when conditions are good, the early season is generally not very busy. Still, the good conditions have provided some positive momentum heading into a season during which the economy’s potential impact on skiing has created concern in the industry.
Resort officials hope that consumers who are cutting back on discretionary spending will be drawn to the mountains by better-than-normal skiing conditions.
Regional resorts are also hoping that they may attract some business from Eastern skiers who are eschewing their traditional high-dollar trips to Western resorts to ski at areas within driving distance.
Showalter said business has been fairly steady at Massanutten, where the tubing park has sold out a couple of days.
At Timberline, Scowcroft said it will be a few weeks before she has a better read on market conditions.
"For us to decide if the economy is really having an effect, we’ll have to wait until after the Christmas holiday," she said.
NOW TO THE NOT SO GOOD REPORTING…
The News and Observer wrote this recently and it caused a truckload of emails to hit our INBOX.
"Hawksnest plans to open its tubing operations today, with the ski slopes to open later."
oops. Not good information there guys. Hawksnest has NO PLANS to open for skiing this season or in the future.
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