Tuesday, March 11, 2014
Hey there skiers and riders, let me tell you how excited I am about becoming part of the PressHerald.com team.
I am looking forward to keeping the readership informed about snow conditions in the mountains of northern New England through this season and along the way, I hope to explain why the weather is doing what it is doing in those hills. I will be posting early each week and will be updating whenever Mother Nature does something noteworthy in the eyes of skiers and riders.
On Thursdays, you will be able to view a video report on PressHerald.com that will break down the conditions for the upcoming weekend. It will be shot out on the snow in a fashion very similar to what I did on television for 25 years, with a great assist from my cameraman, David Huot, a Maine native and a man with whom I have worked for 18 years.
Now that I have taken care of the business stuff, let’s get into what’s happening at the region’s resorts.
This season is off to a fast start. The snowmakers had several shots of arctic air with which to work in November, and Thanksgiving trail counts were the best they have been in several years. Cold air has dominated thus far this month, as well, and the onslaught of crystal cranking has continued, with the guns firing 24/7 on a good number of days.
Meaningful natural snow has fallen on several occasions, with last weekend’s storm the biggest thus far this season. While the foot or more of snow that fell was certainly welcomed, it wasn’t the ideal consistency for this time of year. Don’t get me wrong - the snow was dry, and great for skiing or riding, but when groomed out, it didn’t add a whole lot to base depths. At this time of year, a sloppy storm with temperatures right around 32 is actually more desirable, because the high moisture content snow turns into a more durable base once traffic and grooming compress it. We’re not fussy, though, we’ll take a foot of snow any time we can get it, regardless of whether it is the consistency of baby powder or pudding.
I’d love to be able to tell you that the cold and occasionally snowy pattern that the resorts have enjoyed this month will continue right into January. In general, I believe that will be the case, but we are going to have to deal with a bit of a weather “hiccup” this weekend. That is, it is going to turn milder than it has been of late and there is going to be a mixture of precipitation types all the way up to the Canadian border. The source of the precip will be small scale waves of low pressure riding up along a stalled out cold front that will set up south of the resorts later this week. While the mountains will be north of the front and technically in the cold air, the cold will not be deep enough to support all snow. With relatively shallow cold air hugging the lower levels and above freezing air aloft, we are likely looking at some icing more than anything else.
The good news is that even as temperatures go above normal for a couple of days and surface conditions turn more moist, a change back to a cold pattern will be lurking. In fact, by sometime Monday, the front will press far enough to the south to allow deeper cold air to flow into the mountains. At that point, the resorts will be back in business in terms of making snow and the mountain crews will get busy with those sophisticated groomers to work their magic and re-hab the surfaces.
Early next week, the snow will be firmer than it has been lately, but by the time Christmas Day rolls around, surfaces will be packed powder once again. Looking further down the road, it looks to me as though colder than normal weather will dominate in the north country through the end of the month, which will allow the snowmakers to continue to boost those trail counts, and the pattern also looks favorable for more in the way of natural snow.
If you are skiing or riding this weekend, Sunday River and Sugarloaf have plenty of long runs ready to test your thighs, and Saddleback up in Rangeley will be opening on Saturday. Be sure to check out The Skiing Weatherman video report on Thursday for the details on trails and lifts.Tweet
As The Skiing Weatherman, Herb Stevens has been the go-to guy for snow conditions for skiers and riders for more than 25 years, first on televisions stations up and down the East Coast, and now on newspaper-related web sites. A lifetime New England skier, Herb travelled the world as a caddy on the PGA Tour for five years before launching his career as a meteorologist. After one year at WJAR-TV in Providence, R.I., he became one of the original on-camera meteorologists at The Weather Channel, and later was chief meteorologist at WNYT-TV in Albany, N.Y. While at WNYT, Herb pioneered a weekly on-snow ski report, which later became his full-time job as The Skiing Weatherman.