Ski areas, especially those in northern New England, are getting some much needed natural snow with the heaviest amounts expected later today and tonight.
In the last few days, areas like Jay, Smugglers and Stowe in northern Vermont have gotten up to 10 inches. And that’s not counting the new snow that will be falling today and tonight.
The heaviest snow is expected to start around noon and continue into Saturday morning.
The forecast for Sugarbush in Vermont, for example, is calling for up to 5 inches during the day. And … tonight… another 11 inches possible! If that happens, it will be the biggest snowfall of the season. And I won’t be surprised if totals top two feet.
Sugarbush raved on its web site this afternoon: “Though it’s only just begun, a Winter Storm Warning remains posted for our region, and the ‘numbers’ in the National Weather Service’s forecast have climbed as high as 14-22″!
For those of us stuck in the office in the Flatlands of New England, we can take some joy in watching the snow fall on Sugarbush’s web cam. Or maybe, Killington’s cam
South central Vermont areas like Killington and Okemo are in line to pick up a foot of snow … or more. SoVT areas like Mount Snow and Stratton, at least a half a foot.
New Hampshire and Maine areas could also pick up a much-need foot of freshies.
Check back because I’ll be updating this blog post throughout the day.
Downsides to this storm?
Connecticut started the day with a nice, but heavy snow. Now it’s turned to rain.
Massachusetts areas only got a few inches.
A winter storm warning with snowy roads could make for a tough ride later this afternoon and tonight. If you’re heading up to Vermont later today, check road and weather conditions on VTrans.
Then there’s a high wind advisory, with gusts up to 50 mph, that could affect some lift operations early Saturday.
But I’m not complaining; all of these downsides are minor compared to the the great improvement in conditions and snow bases on trails.
It looks like Sunday will be the pick of the weekend with sunny skies and temps in the high teens in the north; 30s farther south. By that time, the wind will be diminished and most trails will be groomed.
Close to home, you can saddle up and ride to Ski Sundown in New Hartford, Connecticut for its annual Wild West Day from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Sunday.
Areas in southern Massachusttes like Catamount and Butternut (that has ALL its trails open) are also great picks for this weekend. They picked up a few inches of new snow and should come through the rain later today nicely.
Apart from the heavy snow that will fall up north, ski resorts owners are also happy that metro areas like Connecticut got some snow. It’s the best reminder that winter … and the skiing and snowboarding season … is not over yet!
This morning, WTNH New Channel 8 Meteorologist Gil Simmons was talking about the possibility of a major winter storm that COULDaffect the Northeast Sunday. At this stage, Gil said it’s a “tough call” to forecast whether the storm would actually develop or whether most of the precipition would be offshore.
Yeah, I know it’s way too early to get excited, but with this winter you can only hope. No pray.
That’s because this storm – and any future ones – are extremely important to how long the ski season will last in the East. While snow bases remain deep at ski resorts (mainly thanks to snowmaking) it will not last with warm temperatures, foggy and rainy weather.
This was the scene Tuesday at Ski Sundown in New Hartford, Conn. The parking lot remains brown, but Sundown has 100 percent of its trails open.
And after Presidents Week, many resorts will ratchet down their snowmaking operation to reduce costs. Most northern areas are counting on a historically snowy March to keep the lifts turning.
Yes there’s still plenty of machine-made snow (and some natural snow) on most trails for the holiday crowds next week, but a big dump would make things of so sweet! Down here in the flatland of New England it’s hard to believe that there’s plenty of good skiing and riding conditions, even in Connecticut. One of the biggest problems ski areas have face is the lack of snow in people’s backyards; the old seeing is believing reality.
If we do get blessed by this Big Snow its timing will be perfect. Next week is Presidents Week when many kids and their families will go skiing and snowboarding. It’s also the last big money-making week of the ski season for resorts that have been hurting this year.
After next week, expect to see plenty of great deals pop up as we march in spring.
The first comes from Catamount in Massachusetts that is offering an online only midweek ticket for $20. That’s $9 less than what you would pay at the ticket window. The offer, however, is not valid next week (Feb. 20-24).
In Connecticut Ski Sundown (still 100 percent open) has $30 Thursdays. It’s an eight-hour ticket that starts once you buy it. Every Thursday for the rest of the 2012 winter ski season INCLUDING NEXT THURSDAY.
In Vermont, many areas including Killington and Okemo in Vermont are offering discounted ski packages next week. The best way to find them is by trolling their web sites.
This is one Presidents Week where waiting to book at the last minute will result in big savings.
And hopefully, we’ll all be playing on some fresh snow!
Mount Snow GM Kelly Pawlak writes on her blog: "Thank you for all the snowdances, prayers and for all that had faith in winter. She has arrived and graced us with over 17” of snow."
Finally. We’re skiing and snowboarding on “pow pow” today!!!
And just when we were starting to think winter wasn’t going to return to New England.
This weekend is probably the best one, condition wise, this season. But as we all know with skiing in New England, there’s always something. This time it’s bitter cold temperatures.
The National Weather Service says wind chills in northwest and southern Vermont could hit minus 19 degrees. Actually, that sounds worse than it really is. Just take precautions and no exposed skin. On Sunday in Ski Country, it will be sunny and cold with temps in the upper single numbers. MLK Day on Monday looks sweet with partly sunny skies and temps in the 20s.
Just look at these snowfall totals from the past two days.
In Vermont: Jay, the winner with 23 inches … Stowe 18 inches … Mount Snow 17 inches … Sugarbush 16 inches … Killington 14 inches. Stratton … 11 inches.
In New Hampshire … Wildcat 13 inches … Waterville and Loon 10 inches … Mount Sunapee and Gunstock 8 inches.
Maine didn’t get slammed as much as Vermont; Saddleback got 9 inches, Sunday River got 6 inches and Shawnee Peak around 10 inches.
Massachusetts did nicely with 14 inches at Berkshire East … 7 at Jiminy Peak … Catamount and Butternut with 4 inches.
New York areas got a few inches, but not the Big Dump. Whiteface, Windham and Hunter picked up around 6 inches.
And Connecticut? Zilch.
That’s why ski areas in the Banana Belt of New England have snowmaking.
Areas that have massive snowmaking arsenals like Okemo, Mount Snow, Stratton and Killington in Vermont lead pack with open terrain. But if you look at Magic Mountain in central Vermont, there’s only five of 40 trails open despite the 7 inches it received Thursday. Why? You guessed it, an antiquated snowmaking system that has hurt this area for years.
Stratton opened five more trails today including Upper and Lower Liftline and Lower Kidderbrook, and Solstice Way ; Bolton in northern Vermont dropped the rope on seven more trails.
And something many have been waiting for … Outer Limits at Killington is now open. I’ll wait.
Mad River Glen in Vermont is absolutely giddy this morning.
Its report: “Finally it is GAME ON here at MRG and after what has been an interminable wait we are going to FINALLY re-open the main mountain today. We picked up 4-6″ of snow in part 1 of the storm and we are expecting another 6″ (the Single Chair Weather Blog says maybe as much as a foot) in part 2 which is expected to start later this morning and continue into the evening. It could be one of those amazing days when conditions just keep getting better and better, but be aware that temps are expected to fall precipitously throughout the day.”
In Massachusetts, Jiminy got just three inches, but that combined with their snowmaking will open up 85 percent of its trails this weekend.
Butternut in Great Barrington got 5 inches at the summit, allowing it to open all 22 of its trails, one of only three resorts in the East to achieve that. Catamount now has 25 of its 33 trails open.
Despite the rain, Connecticut areas will be in good shape this weekend.
Ski Sundown has all of its trails open. Mohawk has 13 of 25 open; Mount Southington 9 of 14; and Woodbury 10 of 15 trails. If you want to go skiing or snowboarding today here’s a $15 off coupon for Southington.
It’s the long Martin Luther King Jr. weekened, meaning resorts will be charging higher holiday rates. But don’t expect large crowds this weekend because of the combination of very cold temperatures (in the single digits Sunday) and the football playoffs.
Hopefully the Snow Gods, and the meteorologists, aren’t playing any games with us this time.
But … there’s significant snow in the forecast for upper New England Thursday into Friday. I’m trying not to get too excited, but it’s possible that more than a foot of snow could fall in the higher elevations, maybe more.
Sunrise at Stowe, Vermont this morning.
It’s one of those situations where you got to keep checking the forecasts and see if this dream forecast becomes a reality. And that means the complete forecast, not just the snow totals. For example, the NWS’s mountain forecast for Thursday calls for summits to be “in and out of the clouds” with southeast winds between 35 to 50 mph. And we all know how wind can ruin a day and put lifts of hold.
But if you really want to get teased, read Josh Fox Single Chair Weather Blog from Mad River Glen in Vermont where he says “it’s possible” this storm could drop between 10 and 20 inches.
In southern New England it’s also possible that ski areas can pick up a few inches of fresh snow before it changes to sleet and dreaded rain.
Overall, it looks likely this could set the stage f0r an excellent MLK weekend.
Since this could be the first big dump of the season, there could be a run on moderately priced lodging this weekend; like the chain hotels popular with skiers and snowboarders on a budget.
Naturally, skiing and snowboarding midweek is always better, both in terms of ticket deals and crowds, especially since the college kids will be heading back to school next week.
And here’s a nice incentive:
Mount Snow in southern Vermont is offering FREE midweek lodging next week. The offer, based on double occupancy, costs $75 per person, per day. You can stay between Monday and Thursday next week. But you have to book by 5 p.m. Friday. Details here.
By the way there’s interesting reading about how Mount Snow has survived this poor winter on GM Kelly Pawlak’s blog. She notes that Snow’s December temperatures average 8 degrees above normal with a series of “rain events.”
Next week is National Ski Safety Week, the time to remember the “Skier’s Responsibility Code.” You know that code that is often printed on napkins or cafeteria tray liners are ski resorts.
It includes: Always stay in control … People ahead of you have the right of way… Stop in a safe place for you and others … Whenever starting downhill or merging, look uphill and yield … Use devices to help prevent runaway equipment … Observe signs and warnings, and keep off closed trails … Know how to use the lifts safely.
But what about the other stupid things skiers and snowboarders do?
Not looking uphill before crossing a trail. Guilty of this one. I nearly bought the farm when I was broadsided by a skier on Killington’s Upper Cascade trail. I was on the High Traverse trail and, stupidly, didn’t look uphill before crossing. The skier who hit me flew over my head and flew about six feet. Fortunately, both of us were just bruised … for weeks.
Going down a tough, expert trail on the first run. Very guilty of this one, but learning. I’ve had friends curse me for doing this. Taking a few warm-up runs on blue cruisers, not only make sense, but is a good way to check your equipment … and your body.
Not putting the safety bar down on a chairlift. Have you ever gotten on a chair with a bunch of people and they pull the bar down? You wait and wait and finally do it yourself saying “coming down.”
I’m sorry I want that bar down; probably from that time in Utah when my ski hit a lift tower and I almost fell. Some lifts in Utah have no safety bars; in Vermont it’s state law.
Skiing and snowboarding buzzed. Back in the heady daze of the 1980s, it was common that someone would light up weed while riding in the gondola. Before that people would carry along “wine sacks” and sip the alcohol throughout the day. Some would finish the day by having a few drinks in Killington’s summit lodge bar and later ski down the mountain.
Yes, people still … indulge … but as with everything moderation is the key. Let’s be honest you not going to ski or snowboard at your best if you’re buzzed. And you’re more likely to do stupid things and endanger other people; not a good thing on slippery mountain.
Not drinking enough water. You need to stay hydrated in the moisture-sucking mountain environment. Ideally, using something like CamelBak hydration pack that has extra insulation to prevent freezing. You’ll be amazed on how much energy you’ll have if properly hydrated. Even stupider … not cleaning the water container in your hydration pack at the end of the season.
Taking a shortcut through the trees. If you’re not a good tree skier or snowboarder why take chances? If you want to be one, take a lesson. Slamming into a tree off the trail in the woods can be a death sentence. And if you get lost, you can be charged the cost of rescuing you. Have you ever lost a ski in the woods and deep powder? Grabbing on branches to pull yourself out of deep snow? Not fun.
Then there’s what they cal lthe “Deep Snow Immersion Accident. “ This happens when a skier or rider falls into an area of deep unconsolidated snow and becomes immobilized and suffocates. Not good.
Not wearing a helmet. I was guilty of this until this season. Yes a helmet will not save you if you slam into a tree of lift tower, but a helmet can help prevent mild concussions and reduce the severity of head injuries.
Who wears a helmet?
According to the National Ski Areas Association 93 percent of children 9 years old or younger; 79 percent of kids between 10 and 14 wear ski/snowboard helmets; 73 percent of adults over the age of 65 wear ski/snowboard helmets.
Forty-eight percent between 18 and 24 wear helmets.
Helmets are much lighter and cooler looking than they were years ago. Some helmets have embedded areas where you can put headphones. Others also have Bluetooth to hook into your phone.
Stopping in the middle of the trail. Stupid. You not only are going to get slammed, but are ruining the run for many skiers and snowboarders.
Eating too much during lunch. That huge burger, fries and dessert will taste good during lunch, but it will take you a few runs to regain your energy. I like to go for the soup and chili; just enough to fuel you up.
Buying full-price lift tickets. Blindly walking up to the ticket window and paying full price is very, very stupid. Before going to a ski resort check out their web site for price breaks. Okemo has one of the best areas on its Steals and Deals page.
Better yet, one of the best ways to save money on tickets is to join a ski club. You can save more than 50 percent off on lift tickets, on select days and resorts. How much? Check out the Connecticut Ski Council’s Awareness Days.
There’s plenty of other stupid things … like speeding through small villages … eating lunch exactly at noon … getting to a ski resort on a weekend day at 11 a.m. … not getting your gear together … rushing to make as many runs a day as possible … borrowing a friend’s ski equipment … crossing ski tips … tucking you ski pants into ski boots.
The other day I read a tweet by Thomas Cooke on the Ski Utah blog about the “6-inch rule.”
It read in part: “Seth Godin, a best-selling author, a well-known and admired guru to marketers, and an entrepreneurial visionary once said not to underestimate the value of positive cashflow when starting up your own new business venture. The key is to have enough. He said cash flow is like water. A fish doesn’t care if it is swimming in 6 inches of water or 6 feet of water. 6 inches is enough for the fish to survive.”
There hasn't been a huge amount of snow this year, but it has been snowing. In fact, Jay Peak in northern Vermont picked up 6 inches last night. This photo from Ski Vermont demonstrates the 6-inch rule.
Cooke said that same theory can apply to kids and snow and skiing.
“Here we are, spoiled Utah skiers, lamenting the fact we’ve been short-shafted on waist-deep powder days this year. But then I think of my kid on Christmas day. New skis. Blue skies. Neighborhood posse of 2nd graders running wild at Park City Mountain Resort. No complaining about the snow. Kids don’t care. 6 inches or 6 feet, they are still skiing and having fun. I wish I were still a kid,” Cooke wrote.
That’s exactly the kind of attitude we should be having in the East this winter!
Sure we too have been “short-shafted” by a snow-stingy winter. But we still have some good skiing and snowboarding thanks to the millions of dollars ski resorts have invested in snowmaking in the last 25 years.
That means we can still ski and ride even if we don’t have any snow in the backyard. We can still slide down our favorite mountains, go with our friends and family, eat and drink at our favorite ski town restaurants and bars. And yes there is some natural snow up north to add to the classic winter backdrop.
This weekend temperatures will be in the 40s and 50s. Skies are expected to be sunny. An ideal setup (at least for March) that will make for a great ski weekend. So go ahead and go skiing and snowboarding; conditions are quite good even in Connecticut.
I’m still going to be praying for snow, but I’ll take what I can get and enjoy the trails that are open.
We’ve finally hit the mark – the coldest day of the season so far.
Ranging from -9.5 degrees on Mount Washington, to the single digit and teens in ski country. All we need now is some significant natural snow to get the winter in high gear.
Temperatures are expected to moderate across the East the next few days with an increasing change of light snow and snow showers.
That combined with great deals is the right combination for some good skiing and snowboarding in the days ahead.
One of the better deals is THIS Sunday at Mount Snow in southern Vermont kids pay their age for a lift ticket. That means if a kid is 12, their lift ticket is only $12. The deal is for “kids” 18 and under. Snow warns: “For some ages, valid ID may be required for verification.” If you’ve been looking to take the kids skiing or snowboarding this is it!
On Thursday at Mount Snow, college students pay just $29 for a lift ticket on Thursday with a valid ID.
Hunter Mountain in New York is also giving college students a discount; $35 tickets through Friday and from Sunday to next Friday.
At Okemo in Vermont when skiers and riders pre-buy a Tuesday, Wednesday, or Thursday lift ticket online in advance, they pay just $49. This offer is valid every Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday through the month of January.
Also at Okemo, kids ski or ride for $1 when their family stays at an Okemo Mountain Resort managed property for at least two nights in January (excluding MLK weekend). In addition, if they book three nights, everyone stays the third night free.
Jiminy Peak in northeastern Mass. has just posted a number of e-coupon days through March that can greatly reduce the price of a lift ticket. Even better, some are on weekend day. Check them out here.
Despite the lack of a major snowfall, ski areas from New York State to Maine are steadily expanding terrain thanks to continued snowmaking. Both Okemo and Stowe in Vermont are nearly the 50 percent mark of having all its trails open. Sunday River in Maine leads the pack in that state with 53 of its 132 trails. Loon and Sunapee have half their trails open in New Hampshire.
In New York, Hunter’s got 31 of 55 trails open, Belleayre has 16 and the big mountain of Whiteface is reporting 35 of 86 open.
Massachusetts areas like Butternut, Catamount and Jiminy Peak are pushing to get 75 percent of their terrain open. And in Connecticut…Ski Sundown now has all 15 trails open.