We watch Olympians on TV every four years, but you don’t have to wait that long to rub elbows with skiing stardom. Several mountain resorts around the country offer opportunities to ski with their most prominent athlete ambassadors, and learn the slopes from a pro perspective.
Heading through the Christmas holiday, multiple storms will make their way across the U.S. and Canada. Question is, will these bring the gift of snow to your favorite spot?
We’re turning the calendar to November in this SnoCountry SnoCast, and with that comes more signals that winter is coming. A weather pattern featuring frequent storm systems will impact both the western and eastern areas this week.
Stoke was high this week for east coast skiers and riders, as the power of snowmaking and the fortune of cold weather combined for October openings at Killington and Sunday River, with Mount Snow and Wildcat spinning lifts this coming weekend.
When visiting a ski resort for the first time, most people check out the trail map to plan their day. But whereas 30 years ago it was a paper map, today it is likely to be on a smartphone or computer.
Even though it might still feel like February as snow continues to fall on mountain resorts across the country, Northeast mountains are celebrating end-of season runs as they look ahead to summer activities and construction. Thanks to snowmakers and some great March snowfall, bases are still deep for those spring runs.
Snowy and still cold through April 20-21? Absolutely! This colder-than-average weather pattern for much of the East will stay through the weekend (21-22) with a gradual warm-up for the final week of April (24-27). That said, with cold air in place we’ll have a better chance at keeping and getting more snow.
Loading the new Belleayre gondi. (Belleayre/Facebook)
Skiers and snowboarders loading Belleayre's new 60-cabin Catskill Thunder gondola can now make it from the lower mountain's Discovery Lodge to the summit in seven minutes. The eight-person cabin can move about 2,000 people per hour, at a maximum speed of 1,000 feet per minute.
Whiteface Mountain on Thanksgiving week. (Twitter/Whiteface)
A changing weather pattern across the West will alter storm tracks across Canada, while several cold shots hit the East.
Whiteface Oktoberfest welcomes Bavaria to the Adirondacks. (Whiteface/Facebook)
It’s time to dust off our lederhosen, fire up the oompah band and enjoy a tall mug of German beer at Oktoberfests across Northeastern ski resorts.
Belleayre, Gore and Whiteface are the first Eastern resorts to partner with The Climate Reality Project I AM PRO SNOW Project. (Whiteface/Facebook)
On the heels of announcements for $28 million in investments at Whiteface, Gore and Belleayre, the three New York-owned ski resorts have pledged to be powered by 100 percent renewal energy by 2030, joining The Climate Reality Project I AM PRO SNOW 100% Committed campaign.
Jay Peak picked up some fresh snow earlier this week. The first sign as we turn to a colder, more active pattern in the Eastern U.S. (Jay Peak/Instagram)
What a ride it’s been the past week with continued record snowfall for the Western mountains and a messy mix of snow, sleet, and (ick) ice for some of the East. The weather pattern is changing for all regions this week. Let’s dig into this week’s SnoCast.
The changes we can expect this week (Jan. 25-31) feature a much more tranquil scene for the Western U.S. Meanwhile, for the Eastern U.S., a colder pattern will take over again, with potential for patchy snowfall with any storm system that develops. For all areas, even in a warmer than usual Canada, there will be fair conditions to make snow, if needed. In the image below, you're looking at the higher elevation temperature map into this weekend - notice the blue areas indicate colder than normal air, and red indicates warmer than normal.
Here’s what to expect by region for Jan. 18-23:
West: After record snowfall at so many locations through the month of January, high pressure will generally dominate the Western weather this week. This will generally mean that snow will be limited, but that’s OK at this point, as some ski areas are having a tough time turning the lifts after so much snow fell. Just check out this image tweeted out by Kirkwood in California earlier this week.
Good news is that the weather ahead should allow some great stretches of sunshine and bluebird days to look forward to. Any snow that does fall in the West this week will generally be very light and spread out over several days, and mainly squeezed out at the highest peaks. Totals could range anywhere from 2-6 inches from Thursday through the weekend for Colorado and Utah peaks, and between 1-4 inches for most other mountain tops. A quick front will dip into the Pacific Northwest Sunday night-Monday allowing for some better snow in the northern peaks of the Washington Cascades
East: In the east, following mild temps and snow melt the past two weeks, the tables are turning (and the lifts will be, too!). A large atmospheric trough will build in, allowing colder air to settle in for most of the Great Lakes region, and down the Eastern seaboard. Cold is, of course, the first thing we need to set the stage for snow.
I’d keep my eye on a couple of things. A quick moving, weak low pressure system Wednesday-Thursday treks from the Midwest, northeastward into Quebec. This will bring a mix of snow, sleet, and perhaps some chilly rain to some of our Midwest ski areas, New York’s Adirondacks, and New England ski areas. Behind this system is when much colder air is ushered in by a persistent west/northwest wind. That wind and leftover moisture should allow upslope snowfall Friday and Saturday against the Adirondacks, Green and White Mountains of Vermont and New Hampshire, and perhasps into Maine’s peaks, too.
A cold front dips into northern New England Sunday, which will bring a few more inches of fresh snow once again. Best bets: Whiteface, Jay Peak, Stowe. Here’s the snowfall forecast through Friday evening, keeping in mind another 3-6 inches may fall in the Northern mountains over the weekend.
Canada: After some fresh snow earlier this week in Quebec (~20 cm at Le Massif), we head into a warm stretch for much of Canada this week. Much warmer than average temperatures will prevail over most of the country for this forecast period we’re talking about. Check out the forecast model image below by the “European” ECMWF forecast model. The orange and red colors indicate above normal temperatures, which covers most of the country.
Despite this fact, temps will still be cold enough to support snow. With a large trough/active pattern over the Eastern country, I'd expect some light snow in the Quebec mountains through the weekend, perhaps 5-10 cm. Also in the West, a small area of exception to the warmer temps will likely be across the far southwest of the country in British Columbia. Expect new snow over the weekend as coastal moisture streams into British Columbia, allowing some wet snow for these ski areas, likely between 25-35 cm.
Happy skiing and riding! 'Til next week!
New project will create state-of-the-art skiing, lodging, dining and retail and year-round activities at Gore and Whiteface Mountains. (ORDA)
New York Governor Andrew M. Cuomo announced the state will invest up to $20 million for major upgrades at Whiteface and Gore Mountains to attract more visitors and build on Northern New York’s bourgeoning winter tourism industry.
Skate with the stars at Sun Valley (Sun Valley/Facebook)
Downhill skiing and ice skating have been linked closely during the cold winter months, and a number of winter resorts around the country link with outdoor ice rinks.
Most stay open into the evenings, and typically charge a fee for a couple of hours of skating, offer skate rentals that are sometime free if you’re staying at the resort, and have food and drink nearby.
SnoCountry.com took a look around the country, and came up with some ice rinks of note for some skating enjoyment:
Squaw Valley. You have to take an 8-minute cable car ride to 8,200-foot High Camp to reach a 100x200 foot rink, with Olympic Museum and mind-blowing views of the Sierra and Lake Tahoe. Cost includes tram ride.
Sun Valley. Outdoor rink next to Sun Valley Lodge in main village, the 77-year-old sheet hosts popular Sun Valley Ice Shows. Individual or group lessons available, and world-class skaters often stop by for practice and autographs.
Keystone. Colorado resort has two skating venues: A five-acre lake in the heart of the resort’s village with Zambonis putting down new surface; and, the more traditional Dercum Square Ice Rink near the base of the ski and snowboard mountain.
Guidant John Rose Oval. While not at a resort, this 110,000 square-foot sheet in Roseville, Minn., is close enough for skiers and snowboarders from nearby Afton Alps, Hyland Hills and Buck Hill to stop by apres-ski. Rink has hosted U.S. and international speedskating competitions.
Liberty Mountain. The Pennsylvania resort opened a new skating pond this season, located in the newly renovated pedestrian core of the base area and open daily till 10 p.m. Courtyard Pond has seating for viewers.
Whiteface. Take a turn on the same ice as Olympic champ Sonja Henie, and where annual Stars on Ice Tour features top skaters. The Speed Skating Oval has skate rentals and a fir pit in the middle. Or glide onto Mirror Lake for some old-fashioned pond hockey.
The First Tracks program offers a free guided morning run. (Whiteface/ORDA)
New York's Whiteface Lake Placid boasts the greatest vertical drop of any resort east of the Rocky Mountains as well as the culture and mystique of having hosted two Olympic Games. The deep-rooted traditions and the Adirondack charm will make Whiteface a favorite.
Furry friends enjoy the snow and fresh air on a snowshoe trail at Stowe. (Stowe Mountain Lodge)
For many of us, our dogs are part of our family, and many resorts across the country welcome our four-legged friends with enthusiasm. Rather than leaving the pup behind, enjoy the company of wagging tails on the trails.
Snow flying Wednesday at Whistler Blackcomb. Good base making snow on the way here with opening date set for late November (Whistler Blackcomb/Facebook)
As we jump deeper into November, many ski areas are prepping to open! While it doesn't look like a great pattern for big snow to start out November, there will be some small windows of snowy-opportunity.
Whiteface offers the biggest vert in the East. (Whiteface)
Whether you’re a ripper or parent wanting to introduce kids to snowsports, now’s the time to plan a special vacation, and there’s nothing like trying something new or different to make it memorable.
After a nice shot of snow to the higher mountain tops out west over the past week, a change in weather pattern will bring colder air and (some) snow to the northeast in this week’s SnoCast.