Mid-Atlantic Resorts Eye Hurricane
Author thumbnail By M. Scott Smith, DCSki Editor

Mid-Atlantic ski resorts have a lot of challenges to contend with: wild temperature swings, unwelcome winter rains, and in dry years a constrained water supply for snowmaking. Some of these problems are faced by ski resorts in other regions, but one additional challenge may be unique to the Mid-Atlantic region: a hurricane.

As Hurricane Isabel steams directly towards the Mid-Atlantic region, area ski resorts have taken precautions to prepare for the expected high winds. In most cases, resorts are taking the same precautions as regular citizens: bracing for strong winds and securing anything that might blow away. Thankfully, ski lifts are engineered to withstand heavy winds, so they should fare well against Isabel.

“We are mainly concerned with securing our summer features,” explained Anne Weimer, Marketing Coordinator for Pennsylvania’s Liberty Mountain Resort.

Liberty Mountain spent Wednesday bringing down nets in volleyball and basketball courts, putting away pool and patio furniture, and ensuring that all planters are secured.

Liberty Mountain expects that the lifts will be fine, but “there is a concern with erosion on some of the trails,” Weimer noted. Consistent rains have left the soil soft, so a deluge of rain from the hurricane could threaten trees and slope lighting.

West Virginia’s Snowshoe Mountain Resort is also bracing for high winds.

“We are dropping our Main Events and Stage Tents,” said Joe Stevens, Snowshoe’s Director of Communications. He added that plants, chairs, and anything else that might blow away are being brought indoors.

Maryland’s Wisp Resort is expecting six inches of rain, but the resort’s Sarah Duck notes that Wisp is used to extreme weather.

The chairlifts are “designed to hold up against sustained strong winds, so we’re not taking any special precautions,” Duck explained. “We are still planning to be open for scenic chairlift rides this Saturday and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., but that is weather permitting,” she added.

Hurricane Isabel is expected to bring torrential rain, which may cause flooding in low-lying regions. Rain has been steady and plentiful since this spring, in sharp contrast to the drought that settled over the region last summer. The steady rain has had one very positive effect for ski resorts: snowmaking reservoirs are overflowing.

Snowshoe has plenty of water in all of its holding areas. “We are looking at starting to make snow in early November, weather permitting,” said Stevens.

“We have more water in our ponds than we could ever dream of using!” explained Weimer.

“The water table is higher than it has been in years,” Weimer noted, “and it is very timely for us as we have spent the summer adding about double the pipeline to pump water up the mountain.” With an increase in snowmaking capacity over the summer, Liberty Mountain is looking forward to turning some of the water into snow.

Located by Deep Creek Lake, Wisp Resort normally doesn’t have a shortage of water, but the resort’s reserves have been topped off by the steady rains.

About M. Scott Smith

M. Scott Smith is the founder and Editor of DCSki. Scott loves outdoor activities such as camping, hiking, kayaking, skiing, and mountain biking. He is an avid photographer and writer.

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