by Joe Stevens
(Photo courtesy NC DOT)
Hello Everyone –
You can always tell when the temperature begins to drop throughout the southeast region because pictures of snowmaking start to pop up on social media. As I have mentioned many times in the past, it’s a pleasure to see those pictures of the snowguns cranking up and starting to cover the slopes.
Another way you can tell the temperature has begun to drop is the number of complaints from those out there that don’t like the winter season, at all. I get it I guess, but what they don’t understand is that the winter months means jobs to a lot of folks and without those cold temperatures, those jobs would not be available.
Just like lifeguards depending on warm temperatures during the summer, those cold winter temperatures mean the same thing to your favorite snowmaker or ski and snowboard instructor.
Speaking of jobs, there are reports circulating around the country that ski resorts are worried about getting the roads plowed because there maybe a shortage of snow plow drivers this winter.
I checked with the folks at West Virginia Department of Highways and they said they are expecting no problems in that area. In fact, they have already done dry land tests and are ready to go. In some areas of the mountains DOH has already had to treat the surfaces on a couple of snowy days. I suspect that this is also the case in the other states in the region.
I have always said that snowplow drivers are some of the true unsung heroes of the ski industry. Many times, they are out at all hours of the night, making sure the roads are clear for everyone to be able to get to their favorite resort safely. With that in mind, always give yourself some extra travel time if you know there is going to be active weather in your travel area.
One thing for sure this year, as was the case last season, you really need to check with your resort of choice before you head that way. Meaning, there are some resorts that still are using a capacity management process this season. In other words, there are going to be days when the number of lift tickets sold will be restricted. This is not the case for every resort in the southeast, but I know of a handful that saw the guest experience last season improve, by limiting the numbers of skiers and snowboarders are on the slopes on certain days of the season. The best way to know for sure is to check out your favorite resort’s website, all of the answers to your questions can probably be found there or just call the resort and do it the old fashion way.
So how many of you out there have driven a vehicle on less than perfect tires? I would say most of us have done that a time or two throughout our driving years. Many of us probably found out that the vehicle’s tradition on the driving surface, especially wet surfaces was limited. Well that same scenario holds true when it comes to skiing and snowboarding and having the correct tuned equipment when on the slopes.
If you are like me your skis or snowboards have been sitting in a corner in your garage colleting dust, since you last used them last winter. That means it’s time to get your equipment tuned up and ready for your first day on the slopes. Don’t wait until two days before you are leaving, because you might find out, the technicians at the ski shop can’t get to them because others were ahead of you. Now with that in mind, get up off your duff and get the equipment to the shop now, so everything is ready to go come your first day on the slopes. Remember the snow is already flying in the mountains, which means opening day isn’t that far away. Here in West Virginia, I know Snowshoe Mountain is planning for a tradition Thanksgiving week opening. I anticipate that Cataloochee and Sugar will again battle it out to be the first to open in the southeast.
Another thing to make sure you have set to go is to have a bookmark on your browser for skisoutheast.com’s web cam page. That internet page is still the best in the industry at giving you an excellent feel, taste, touch glimpse at the conditions that are currently at the resort you might be heading to for some fun.
I can remember the days that you had to rely on the accuracy of the resort’s snow report (on the phone) to find out the conditions that day and also hope that the information they were providing was 100 percent accurate. Now just by using a keystroke, to can see for yourself if the amount of snow on the trails, was going to be worth the trip to the resort. The slope cams have really taken some of the guess work out of the decision making on going or not going. So make sure the webcam page is easy to get to at any given time you are on your computer to get a birds eye glance at what is truly going on at the resort.
One final thing as you get ready for that first ski trip of the year. If the temperature out your back door at home isn’t what you think was ideal for a ski trip, remember things can change dramatically from where you are located and where the resort is located in the mountains. You will probably be surprised, just make sure you are getting things ready.
That’s it for this week. As always, thanks for joining me for my weekly thought process. Just remember whether it be cold or whether it be warm, we’ll weather the weather, whatever the weather will be. This season is going to be a fun one, so get ready for a fun slide. I look forward to seeing you on the slopes.