by Joe Stevens
Hello Everyone –
Okay let’s start off this week by reviewing class. In an earlier column this season, I went into great detail why using a weather app for trying to figure out conditions at a ski resort is darn near impossible.
I have already told you about my January 24 trip to Winterplace, when rain was posted on the weather apps, while not a drop was falling. Then again just two days later at Winterplace, the situation occurred with the dreaded rain emoji featured prominently and the undereducated didn’t think about checking out the resort cams to find out there wasn’t any underdeveloped snow occurring.
Veteran readers of this column know that I probably detest The Weather Channel naming winter storms the most, as it relates to winter meteorology, but that is now getting a run for its money with not accurate winter data being displayed on phone weather apps.
Working in an industry that is driven solely by weather, getting the most accurate information is essential to make the correct decision on “should I stay or should I go.” To say I have the perfect answer to the challenge would be pushing it a little, but I am here to say, if any way shape or form you can get some human intel, that would be a start in the right direction.
This now brings me to how the misunderstanding of an official announcement by state governments that can be construed in different ways by citizens in different states outside of the affected area.
Before the most recent snowstorm that blanketed the state of West Virginia, the state’s Governor Jim Justice declared a “State of Emergency.” Okay, I realize why he followed orders from his staff and made the declaration, as it opens the federal money coffers if needed moving forward.
I get it, I really do, but “State of Emergency” to folks that really take heed to such an announcement often means batten down the hatches, hunker down, and hope the storm goes through without do much damage.
What I am referring to is the residents in the hurricane belt along the east coast in Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina, and Virginia. When those folks hear “State of Emergency,” they are first screwing in plywood over their windows and then wondering if they are going to have evacuate.
The most recent “State of Emergency in West Virginia, ordered by Governor Justice caused those folks in the hurricane belt to think twice about their planned trips to the mountains of West Virginia and many cancelled their plans.
I heard of instances of church groups calling resorts’ group sales offices and saying they weren’t going to take the chance. Again I get it, as they understand the risk factors in dealing with groups of people during such an incident.
As it turned out, parts of West Virginia, especially in the higher elevations, where the ski resorts are located, received a foot or so of fresh snow, creating the best slope conditions in the last couple of seasons. On top of that, the department of highway folks got ahead of the storm and were able to create safe pathways to the resorts.
Moving forward, officials with the West Virginia Ski Areas Association have spoken with the state’s Secretary of Tourism about the matter. Again, with the understanding of why such a declaration is needed, but if it could be made with a clearer understanding of how such a move can affect a quarter billion dollar industry. Discussions have been on-going knowing a good old snowstorm is pretty good news.
I meant to mention this in an earlier column but forgot and since this week’s edition is hitting on numerous items, I figured it will fit in nicely.
Each year, Ski Area Management magazine honors up and coming ski industry professionals, with their “SAMMY” award. The southeast region has had a number of previous recipients of the award including Chris Bates of Cataloochee, Kim Jochl of Sugar, Jay Roberts of Wintergreen, yours truly when I was at Snowshoe, Tracey Samples and Ken Gator also of Snowshoe and this past year, Preston Cline, Director of Snowshoe’s Risk and Business Operations received the honor.
I was on hand at the National Ski Areas Association meeting in Savannah, Georgia when Preston received that honor. Anybody in the industry that knows the young industry professional knows his dedication to the sport, not only from the revenue producing side of things but from the all important safety aspect. Congrats Preston on receiving the well deserved honor and making everyone in the southeast ski region proud.
Okay, if you haven’t heard by now that rodent in Pennsylvania didn’t see his shadow, which according to folklore has it that spring will be coming early this year. Poppy cock, just know that the all-knowing “SkiSoutheast Si” totally disagrees with his northern cousin. Check Out the SkiSoutheast Si
This just means there are plenty of turns still to be had out there at your favorite resort. Seriously, I have been able to get in some recent product evaluations and I know you understand I am part of the industry and wave the flag whenever I can, but I am here to say, there is a bunch of snow out there.
I was about fall out of my chair at my favorite watering hole when I heard someone ask, “Is there really snow at the resorts right now? It’s just too warm for there to be snow.” This is the same person that was complaining when the temperatures throughout the region were in the teens and tons upon tons of snow was being produced. Don’t wait any longer, go!
Finally, I am looking forward to making turns with some of you at the SkiSoutheast summit coming up next weekend at Massanutten Resort. I realized the other day I haven’t been on the “Nuts” trails since 1989. It’s been too long. See you there.
That’s it for this week. Just remember whether it be cold or whether it be warm, we’ll weather the weather, whatever the weather will be. Your favorite slope is now open, so go make some turns and let gravity be your friend.