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by Joe Stevens

Hello everyone –

There is such a thing a writer’s block and that is exactly what I am experiencing this week for the Snow News Is Good News column. The one really good thing that I can think of is the fact that snow has been made at a number of southeast ski resorts, so I guess I can start there.

This has just been one fickle winter in this part of the country. Just when you think winter is finally settling in, I am outside running a few miles in short sleeves and running shorts. Go figure.

Now with a handful of resorts still offering skiing and snowboarding for the diehards out there, winter-like conditions are returning for the next week or so. Again, I just can’t figure this whole pattern out, very perplexing to say the least.

I want to take a quick moment to send best wishes to our industry colleagues out west. You see I am on a Zoom call every two weeks with my association counterparts from around the country and the California representative was telling us that there is just too much snow and the chance of lives being lost is much more important than skiing or snowboarding at this time.

In fact, the group was told that some of the top resorts out in the affected areas have gone ahead and closed for the time being, so that employees can be home, tending to their families and property.

I have said, at least in these parts, that you can never have too much snow. I am here to tell you that right now in the California mountains, they have gotten way too much snow. On top of that, expected rainfall will be melting the lowland snow, which will result in floods throughout the area.

Please send a prayer or two that way because it is a situation that no one can ever remember happening and it is going to be a long recovery time. A situation that affected folks are facing, is getting to the problem areas or just shoveling out. In many cases there is just nowhere to put the snow. Like nowhere.

Now for the situation around these parts, for the resorts that are still providing sliding on the snow, again the recent cold snap has allowed the industry’s most valuable players to do what they do best and that is to lay down snow and if you didn’t know better, in most cases you wouldn’t even know that there were bare spots just a couple of days ago. Okay, there are still some thin areas out there, but nothing like it was ten to fifteen days ago, believe me.

I have heard some skiers and snowboarders having issues with resorts suspending on-slope operations during the midweek. For those of you who might not understand or just don’t get it, the majority of visitors head to the mountains during the weekends.

By virtue of not having any traffic on the slopes during say Monday through Friday, the snow isn’t being disturbed, so not as much melting will be occurring. Just remember, no snow, no skiing or snowboarding. When the temperatures are way above freezing, one of the quickest ways of losing snow is playing on it.

So, by not moving it around and even making some fresh snow and maybe even getting some help from Mother Nature from the sky, there is more snow on the slopes for folks making their way to their favorite resorts that are still operating for the season.

Speaking to an official with a West Virginia ski resort, looking at the weather pattern for the mountain state for the next ten days or so, snowmaking conditions are going to be available and there is now hopes that the season is going to last through the last weekend of March.

If that is the case, my prediction of just two weeks ago that the season was coming to a quick end was fortunately way off base. Now the trick is going to be convincing people who have taken their lawnmowers into the shop to get it ready for the cutting season. Heck, I know of some folks who have already cut their grass a couple of times so far, this winter, ugh!

Even with the availability of resort cams at resortcam.com that give everyone a bird’s eye view of what the conditions look like from various spots at the resort, I just don’t know if anyone is looking anymore. Hey, it has just been one of those seasons, hasn’t it.

Now with all that said, what this type of winter is going to do for next season is make people think this type of weather occurs every season. I don’t know how many times that in my 34 seasons in this industry that most just remember what happened the year before and not what happened in normal recent years.

I can hear it now, “well, last year it hardly even snowed” and that may be the case, but hopefully this is one of those years we can just forget about when it comes to getting natural snow and be thankful that resorts have invested millions of dollars in the latest snowmaking technology and that when conditions got thin, the snowmakers came to the rescue, once again.

Like I said at the beginning of the column, finding a certain topic for this week’s column was probably going to be a challenge. However, as is usually the case when I sit down to my keyboard, the words just start coming out and away we go. One word I have used a lot this week and, in fact for the entire season, has been snowmaking and believe me, that is going to be a topic of discussion for this season for years to come.

That’s it for this week, again thanks for joining me for my weekly ramblings. Just remember whether it be cold or whether it be warm, we’ll weather the weather, whatever the weather will be. Be safe and “Let Gravity Be Your Friend.”


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