Photo of the Day is from Massanutten Resort
Choosing a Photo of the Day today was t-o-u-g-h as it looks SO awesome everywhere!
Many of you know that Sunday is my day to ramble a bit without any apparent organization of thought. Funny thing though – I received a couple of emails over the last couple of days from people who shared that they kind of prefer that over ‘my normal approach’.
Donna Warren wrote, “i noticed your polling about where we prefer to get our skisoutheast on and i can tell you that for me it is on the website itself. by the way i like it when you seem to just randomly share notes. keep it up.”
(Donna evidently doesn’t like hitting the caps lock when typing! Thanks Donna. It seems that some 75% of those of you who have taken the time to vote seem to agree.)
By the way, I have said this many times, but when I sit down to post FirsTrax news, I’ve always grabbed by coffee and sat down and just “started a conversation” with you guys. That’s been my approach all these years and I don’t think I could change it if I tried.
With That in Mind, Let’s Ramble….Let’s Call This, “Sunday Observations”
You can watch the Sunday Snow Report here if you like:
The Bigger the Challenge, The Greater the Opportunity for Growth
That could be the mantra for our ski resort mountain ops and snowmaking crews this season. I don’t think I’ve seen anything quite like it in my 25 years of covering our ski areas. I have previously reported on the fact that this roller coaster season has challenged all of the ski area mountain ops crews to build and rebuild their bases three to four times this season, and that is impressive enough. However, the speed and quality of those rebuilds have been unprecedented in my opinion.
This last chapter in that base-snow-rebuilding story came on Friday, after significant rains put a serious dent in the quality and quantity of the snow that covered the slopes and trails of most resorts in the region. Temperatures at 12:57am Friday (Thursday overnight) were in the mid-to-upper 40s around the region. Sometime on Friday AM they plummeted enough for the snowmaking crews to go back to work and since then, those systems have cranked out manmade snow around-the-clock at most resorts. (See the exceptions below).
This was the third or fourth rebuilding of base depths and it has been simply amazing. I’m not sure I’ve seen anything like it in my time.
Here are just SOME of the results of those snowmaking and natural snowfall transformations in just two days!
As you look around the region via the webcams what jumps out to me is HOW MUCH things look like a stereotypical or normal, mid-season ski season – and this season has been anything but that.
Editor’s sidebar: I will say that I’m not sure WHY, but Bryce Resort hasn’t been making snow lately – that one could tell. The slopes are still plenty, well-covered, but the snowmaking crews there have not been as “ever-present”.
Another Oddity For This Season Occurred to Me
My family and I were watching as snowflakes were falling most all day on Saturday and one of them mentioned that it had snowed a LOT lately. In this case, “a LOT” mean’t many times and not a lot of accumulation of snow. We all know that with the exception of Sugar Mountain (tongue in cheek here), all other ski areas have been on a “snow drought” this season.
I checked in with TWO CoCoRaHs reporting stations, one on top of Seven Devils and what I found was eye-opening. The Seven Devils station, which is located at 4032′ elevation (literally the ridge over from Sugar Mountain, maybe one-half mile) has OFFICIALLY only received 10.6″ of snow since November 1st, 2019 through this morning. That is within (23) snowfalls this season!
The crazier number is the fact that this same station has recorded 20.30″ of rainfall/precip in that same period. USUALLY, you would see something in reverse of that in a normal season, where 10″ of precip or rain would create 80″ of natural snowfall.
Here at my home in beautiful, Sleepy Hollow, we’ve seen 26 days with snow falling from the skies, but only 4.9″ of measurable snowfall and yet 24.08″ of rain or precip has fallen since November 1st!
Is that not NUTS!
Can you imagine if we’d have had a more normal temperature winter thus far? We’d have been 16 feet deep in snowfall this season!
While On The Subject of Official and Unofficial Natural Snow Reporting
We’ve been working this website to provide “no bull reporting” for more than two decades. Back in the early days it was admittedly harder than these days. To get THE best content we had to enlist volunteers from across the region to email us hundreds of photos and emails each day. We called them “on-snow reporters” and we even conducted contests for the best of those reporters. That took hours each day to cull through the best and then update content on the website.
Then came the webcams and various reporting websites (like CoCoRaHs) that became more prevalent and those helped greatly to be able provide even more accuracy and detail to our content.
Of course nothing is AS accurate as Official NWS Weather Stations, but even today those don’t dot every mountaintop location. Boy, I wish they did. Places like Beech and Snowshoe share content that comes right from official stations and there are a couple of others with stations in close proximity. There are unofficial/official CoCoRaHs reporting stations within very close proximity to other ski areas and those provide accuracy as well.
Last, but certainly not least, David Lesher of Canaan Mtn Snow does probably the best job of reporting everything you could ever want to know about the weather in Tucker County, West Virginia, (home to Canaan Valley Resort and soon to be Timberline Mountain). You don’t KNOW how much I wish we had a “David Lesher” at every mountain location.
There are admittedly four of our sixteen ski resorts where we have no CoCoRaHs or independent reporting provided. In those cases, we’ve always relied on our “connections” and network of people living close enough to (or working at) those ski areas to provide us with good intel. You guys and gals know who you are, and we appreciate all the input we can get. Keep it coming!
A lot of our readers are probably tired of reading my weekend rambles concerning Sugar Mountain gross, over-reporting of natural snowfall this season. We DO have two peeps who text me snowfall numbers each time it snows and I combine that with my own on-site observations to provide the most accurate snowfall numbers possible at Sugar Mountain…because frankly, they are not providing accurate natural snowfall numbers on the season.
…and NOW, I THINK We May Have a New Friend
We May Have a New, Official/Unofficial Snow Reporter from Atop Sugar Mountain. I’m not sure why he is just now making himself available to us, however, he’s followed SkiSoutheast for years and emailed me,
“Mike, I’m probably not on par with your guy from Canaan Valley, but I can provide data from 4,239′ atop Sugar Mountain, right through the woods from the new lift station at the top. I know you’ve been reporting about their snow numbers recently and I can vouch for the fact that their reporting has been off this season. Through Saturday night, here at my home we’ve had 23 trace to 4″ snows so far this season equaling 25.3”
I’d be happy to provide dailys for you. I don’t have a website but I can send along data as you like.
Thanks for that Thomas…you are the man.
Crazy to see that 23 snowfalls have tallied 25.3″ (equals 1.1″ of snow per event) but tt HAS been that kind of season!
A BIT OF ‘FULL DISCLOSURE’…
I recently had someone with obvious, detailed weather knowledge (that greatly exceeds my own) email me that the snowfall numbers that Canaan Valley Resort and Beech Mountain Resort are not 100% accurate themselves. He questioned why I didn’t rag on them.
For two reasons really.
One, in the case of Canaan Valley Resort, I can tell you that David Lesher’s station is not right on that mountain. Yet he is reporting 59.9″ (again, see http://data.canaanmtnsnow.com/) compared to Canaan Valley Resort’s report of 57.3″ on the season. I would actually have assumed that Canaan Valley Resort would have had MORE natural snow that at David’s station. However, their data is different by only 2.6″ on the season and that is a 4.4% difference. (Acceptable, right?)
In the case of Beech Mountain Resort, there IS an official reporting station there and if you like you can start with November 1st, 2019 and run daily through today and you’ll find that those numbers add up to 26.9″ of natural snowfall on Beech at 5,059′ elevations.
There IS another 400+ feet to the top of their mountain and Beech Mountain Resort actually doesn’t REPORT what their annual snowfall totals are. SkiSoutheast does. We’ve taken each of Beech’s reported numbers daily and they add up to 32″ or a difference of 5.1″ from the official reporting station there – and that can easily be attributed to the difference to the top of their mountain.
I can tell you that last Sunday I was hiking up around the “Emerald Outback” which overlooks the ski resort and with NO snowmaking up there, I measured 7″ of snow on the ground whereas on the official reporting station, the reported snow depth at that same time was only 4″.
So those numbers certainly fall within an acceptable difference.
However, when you get data from someone like our new friend on top of Sugar who is reporting an official 25.3″ of snowfall, compared to the 43.2″ number that Sugar’s marketing peeps are reporting – you can HOPEFULLY see that it isn’t cool.
The difference is 17.9″ off and by nearly 43% (approaching double). Just for the record, prior to receiving Thomas’ new data, we’ve relied on on-mountain texts, etc, and we have them down for 27″ of snow which would certainly be an acceptable number to be “off” with.
Hope this clears that up….
So the new update is:
|Sugar Mountain Snowfall 2019-2020|
|Reported Snow thru 2/9/2020||43.2″|
|Actual Snowfall thru 2/9/2020||27″|
That will do it for today.
Be sure to check back later from some SkiSoutheast Promos…
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