Snowfall up north gives ski areas needed boost
Finally, some much needed snow fell on northern ski areas Friday.
Across the Northeast, some areas saw the biggest snowfall of the season, others got heavy rain mixed with a tease of snow. Some got nothing at all.
A wild and moody storm that was both generous and stingy.
Among the biggest winners were in New York’s Catskills and Adirondacks where more than a foot of snow covered the slopes. The 14 inches that Vermont’s Magic Mountain got jump-started its season, allowing it to open 46 of its 50 trails on Saturday.
Northwestern Massachusetts areas were also blessed. Jiminy Peak reported 18 inches in one day; 30 in 48 hours. Farther south near the CT border, Catamount had up to 10 inches; Butternut around 4.
Hunter Mountain in New York was in the storm’s bull’s eye with about 18 inches.
Ski resorts in southern and central Vermont like Stratton, Okemo, Killington, and Mount Snow saw the highest amounts in the state with more than foot of snow.
Unfortunately for Connecticut ski areas, Friday was another lost day when heavy rain forced all areas to close.
Check out the snow conditions report to see all snow totals across the Northeast.
This weekend, I suggest going on Sunday because winds will have died down from the powerful storm. Sunday will also have mostly sunny skies with seasonable temperatures.
Friday’s snow up north was welcome news after a disappointing, snow-stingy February.
Before the snow, some Maine areas like Black Mountain reported “hard pack” conditions; Big Squaw sounded even worse with an “icy base’ of 5 to 15 inches.
Spring skiing with “variable conditions” came early this year, but unfortunately, it came in February.
Yes, February. The month when temperatures are supposed to be cold and strong nor’easters bring heavy snow.
February did have some nice, sunny bluebird days, but overall the month was a disappointment.
Last month’s warm temperatures, rain and fog caused excessive thawing that knocked down trail counts. Areas like Mad River Glen and Magic Mountain in Vermont that have little or no snow-making, had between three and 10 trails open last Thursday.
Northern Vermont areas did manage to pick up a few inches from Friday’s storm.
Despite the February thaw, big resorts with large snow-making arsenals managed to keep at least half their trails open.
Two weeks ago, some areas saw the warmest February day on record with temperatures that were more than 30 degrees above average. Across the Northeast, temperatures were near 80 in inland Connecticut. Farther north, Burlington, Vermont peaked at 69 degrees, that’s 37 degrees higher than normal. Temperatures were a few degrees cooler in the mountains, still making it feel like April.
Temperatures dropped as much as 40 degrees Wednesday night, hardening up the snow surface.
Many northern ski areas put several lifts on hold to give groomers time to loosen up the frozen snow, resurface and lay down a fresh layer of corduroy.
With such a drop in temperatures and variable conditions, groomed trails were the best - and sometimes - only option to ride on.
And last weekend, southern New England areas took another hit when it rained again. On Sunday, all four of Connecticut’s ski area didn’t even open.
“Just can’t beat Mother Nature,” Powder Ridge Mountain Park sighed on its web site.
The heroes this season have been the snow makers and groomers. Without these Mountain Ops teams, we wouldn’t have any trails to ride on.
A case in point: Mad River Glen in Vermont, a ski area that relies on natural snow. By the end of last weekend it was down to just four or its 45 trails. On Monday, it posted: “Our operational plan is to suspend operations during the midweek period and then re-open next weekend. Rest assured that we will do all we can to provide some main mountain terrain for our skiers The recent thaw definitely took its toll on the snow-pack but despite this fact we remain eternally optimistic.”
That’s exactly what most skiers and snowboarders needed to be this season: eternally optimistic.
Historically, March is the snowiest month in northern New England. It’s a important month to build up a snow base that will hold up to spring’s warm temperatures.
While some resorts stay open into May or even June (like Killington did last winter), most call it a season by mid-April.
So, you’ve got six weeks to make the most out of the remaining season.
Get out and enjoy it.
And stay eternally optimistic.