The start of February signals the halfway point of the ski season and for some the start of the countdown on remaining ski or snowboard days– for others it’s a case of enjoying the days getting longer and maybe warmer temperatures. As I’m sure you know, on February 2nd 2013, The Groundhog predicted an early spring – for only the 17th time since 1887. Remember, however, that last year the Groundhog predicted 6 more weeks of winter and – according to the Northeast Regional Climate Center at Cornell University – January to June 2012 was the warmest seven-month period since records began in 1895. Serves us right for listening to a marmot. For those interested in perhaps acquiring a Groundhog as a pet (aren’t we all?), here’s an interesting quote I read on Wikipedia that I’ll leave you with, and promise not to mention Groundhog Day for at least another year:
Doug Schwartz, a zookeeper and groundhog trainer at the Staten Island Zoo has been quoted as saying “They’re known for their aggression, so you’re starting from a hard place. [Their] natural impulse is to kill ’em all and let God sort ’em out. You have to work to produce the sweet and cuddly.”
Moving swiftly on to current snow conditions and more reliable forms of weather prediction, I’ve mentioned meteorologist Joel Gratz and his website OpenSnow.com on numerous occasions, and how much credence I place on his forecasts. Formerly known as ColoradoPowderForecast.com, this site doesn’t just give you a 2-sentence guess at how many inches we’ll get. You’ll get paragraphs of weather data interpretation, images, graphs and then Joel’s all-important “what this will mean for us and will it be a powder day?” predictions. He even keeps track of his accuracy on his “Keep Me Honest” page “because it helps me to be a better forecaster and publishing the data shows you that we’re fully transparent and try our hardest to make the right forecast”.
So, first the stats for January, and then where we might be heading. Until January 29th, we didn’t get a whole lot – 18 inches in fact: a barren spell that replicated the start to our season. Fortunately, a combination of very cold temperatures and expert grooming on-mountain, meant that our slopes remained in pretty good shape. In the “Discussion” portion of the Winter Park page, someone commented that “A buddy of mine skied Breck, Copper and WP three days running last week and said WP had the best snow and coverage by a long shot.” The Resort needs to do a better job of capitalizing on these comments.
Since then, we’ve had some decent, regular top-ups; nothing incredibly deep, but enough to freshen the trails on a frequent basis – almost 3 feet in the last 15 days. According to OpenSnow, from Wednesday night through Friday midday, we could get anywhere from 7 to 16 inches, with regular helpings (sorry, “stormy pattern”) for the rest of the month. Today’s information is excellent – 7 images with supporting explanations. People coming in for President’s Day weekend should have excellent conditions – the drive home Monday will be less than excellent, or “horrific” as Joel says.
So, that should set-up March, historically the snowiest month of the year, but last year we got a miserly 18 inches that month which effectively killed our season. I’m betting against the hedgehog.