Thin Coverage? A Bare area or two? Say it ain’t so! (It isn’t really…not exactly.)

First Trax

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Okay maybe its a little bit true, but read on.

A month or so before the 2009-2010 ski and snowboarding season began Meteorologist Brad Panovich and several other weather peeps forecasted a winter that we’d all remember for quite some time. Many meteorologists forecasted snowfall totals that would range in the 150% of normal category. All of that has transpired and in fact some ski area communities have seen twice the amount of snow that they’d normally see within a full season. Bear in mind that we archive every single post that is placed on this website so we have data, photos and even video that will support these preseason predictions.

I don’t think that even the snow-loving-est weather person could have dreamed that we’d have had the kind of snowfall season that we’ve had. The season began slowly with little or no snow (depending on the location) from late November until the first week or so of December. Ski and snowboarding enthusiasts were getting a little antsy and then BOOM from December 6th until March 4th the natural snow machine from the heavens wouldn’t seem to let up.

…and then it just quit.

It is as if God Himself thought, "You know I’ve listened to all these snow fanatics long enough this season. I’ve given them all the snow I’m going to give them. I guess now I’ll pay attention to those who are crying ‘enough’s enough’ and shut her down…"

I looked at David Lesher’s Tucker County weather center and they were clicking along with snowfall after snowfall – with snow seeming to fall nearly everyday for nearly three solid months until they hit the 250" mark on the season on March 4th. Since then? Nada, zip, not a snowflake.

The long range forecast shows s-o-m-e hints of a little snow/mix/something or other for the next couple of nights but for the most part unless something freakish develops in Canada and pushes its way southward, we could be looking at one of LEAST SNOWY March’s in a lllloooonnnngggg time. Wouldn’t THAT be a hoot?!?

Typically some of the heaviest snows that we’ve seen over the years have been in March, when the weather is transitioning from winter to Spring. If the long range forecast holds we could be talking about the snowiest winter on record for MANY of the Southeast and Mid Atlantic ski communities – that COULD HAVE BEEN A WHOLE LOT SNOWIER if March "had been a typical March".

Obviously we’re only on March 13th and we’re still looking at exactly 30 more days of skiing and riding if App is able to make it to April 11th as they plan to do. Over the years we’ve always added "Weather depending" when discussing opening and closing dates for the ski resorts. There’s still a LOT of snowpack (base depths) on the slopes and a little rain isn’t going to wash it all away in a day or two, but if you’d have told me one week ago today that we’d be talking about some thin cover and a bare spot or two already showing up at some ski areas – I’d have told you that you were nuts.

H-o-w-e-v-e-r, we are now getting some reports that some of the steeper trails at ski areas are beginning to show some wear and there are some bare spots beginning to show up. That is TYPICAL of Spring skiing as we ARE in mid March and this is the time of each season that some ski areas call it quits. However ONE WEEK AGO I was thinking that we might make it to April 11th with 100% of the slopes and trails open with five foot bases on them. Okay, that was an exagerration but you get my drift.

To be clear and fair to the ski resorts, there’s so much snow that ski areas are doing overnight grooming that has every trail in pristine shape to begin the day. However on some of the steeper terrain and heavier traffic areas at many ski resorts – we’re hearing about the ground beginning to show. For you newbies out there and especially those thinking about making one more trip to the mountains, please know that you’ll almost have to go HUNTING for those thin coverage areas because there’s great side-to-side snow coverage and GREAT skiable terrain at every resort, but who would have "thunk it" that we’d even be mentioning bare spots this time a week ago? Not me…

Dave McConnell from our messageboard posted up early this morning the comment,"Time to break out the kayak! WooHoo!"

There’s tons of snow on the slopes and maybe we’ll yet see another arctic blast and a surprise, deep snow…but if not, this season to remember might be even more memorable for the abrupt "shut down" of natural snow.

As I posted the snow reports this morning I couldn’t help but notice that several ski areas dropped their base depths in rather dramatic fashion in the last 24 hours due to the heavier rains that fell Friday and Friday night. Some areas saw very heavy rainfall and even though base depths were diminishing by 2-3" daily over the last week – some dropped another three to six to eight to even TEN inches since we looked at them at 7am Friday morning. Additionally several ski areas dropped a slope or two down from being 100% open so we are seeing perhaps some trails that might have included the term "thin coverage" – closed for today…and perhaps the season. Wintergreen Resort dropped from 26 trails open on Friday to 20 today. Others dropped a slope or two.

We’ll see Snowshoe’s trail count drop dramatically on tomorrow’s snow report and not from a lack of snow coverage but because they will night ski for the last time this season TONIGHT on their Silvercreek side of the mountain. Tomorrow they will offer 18 less trails than today for that reason.

If you have a chance to ski or ride over the few days – make that happen. The conditions are quite great right now – particularly for this time of the season. Some of our staff are planning to hit up Beech on Sunday and Appalachian on Monday or Tuesday evening…and we’re all thinking that we need to hit it while we still have the opportunity.

As we stated earlier…everything in this industry is "weather dependent" and with so much snow and great, Spring conditions on the mountains of the region right now…NOW is the time to ride.

So get off your computer now…and do just that.

To see all of the discounts being offered by ski areas – click here

To view ski area closing dates view our Snow Report or click here

We’re on day 107 and there are 30 more days of opportunities to enjoy the snow for the 2009-2010 ski and snowboarding season!

Go enjoy the snow! Check out the Snow Report at  and please send us your favorite ski photos, ski videos, trip reports and comments to [email protected]  

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