Continued warm temperatures have begun to take their toll, spelling the end of the season for some area resorts. Today, Whitetail Ski Resort ended its 1999-2000 winter season at 5 p.m. Although the resort still had snow cover, it knew it couldn’t make it through the coming week - with temperatures forecast to climb into the 70’s by Tuesday.
Other resorts are battling on, hoping for a cold weather reprieve. Seven Springs remains open with 26 trails, while Wisp is down to 10 open trails. Ski Liberty and Ski Roundtop remain open, although tubing is closed for the season at Roundtop.
How can resorts remain open after such a long warm stretch? If you look carefully, you’ll still see snowpiles in parking lots, plowed from the last big snowstorms. With aggressive snowmaking, packing, and grooming throughout the season, resorts have a strong base of snow that is in no hurry to melt. However, surface conditions become slushy in the spring - and bare spots begin to poke through. Grooming can help patch bare spots, although resorts are hesitant to groom as the grooming process can often accelerate melting.
Unfortunately, each spring ski resorts close for the season earlier than they have to - not because of warm temperatures, but due to a lack of patrons. As temperatures rise, skiers and boarders begin to think of springtime activities, and don’t realize that conditions can still be good on the slopes.
Although resorts close to D.C. have suffered through the warm spell, West Virginia’s Snowshoe Mountain Resort - at nearly 5,000 feet in elevation - continues to do well. Snowshoe is the only resort in the region with 100% open terrain, and just wrapped up 100 hours of snowmaking over the past week thanks to lower high-elevation temperatures. 11 million gallons of water were converted to snow over the past few days. With a base depth of 24-96 inches, Snowshoe is expecting to stay open until April 9. Highs will reach the mid-50’s this week at Snowshoe, and if this season is like last season, March may bring a few snowstorms to the mountains of West Virginia.
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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