The MOST unreliable Ski Area snow report???
I just checked the ski conditions report on Blue Knob's web-site, www.blueknob.com.
And, the report makes the preposterous claim that BK has received 48 INCHES OF SNOWFALL thus far this Winter!!! What a whopper BK is telling! I live at 2,600 ft above sea level (on a ridge not far from BK) and the total snowfall (thus far) this Winter is less than 20 inches and there has never been more than 9 inches of snow on the ground at any given time. There's only 5 or 6 inches of snow on the ground at the present time.
I skied BK a few days ago and the snow (ice) coverage was minimal on Lower Expressway and Lower High Hopes (Extrovert and Deer Run weren't even open). And, as for Stembogan, the slope was open but had extremely limited coverage with lots of exposed rocks; in some areas there was just a 15 foot wide strip of man-made base. The Terrain Park was basically non-existent as hardly any snow had been made in that area; the old school bus (that was supposed to be mostly covered with snow) just sits there, completely exposed. And lastly, the BK snow report currently claims that several of the Glades are open.....yeah right, with 6 inches of natural snow on the ground. I can just imagine what skiing (or boarding) one of those raw logged areas (BK's Glades) with only a 6 inch base would do to a pair of skis or snowboard.
I can't speak to the current conditions at BK, but I don't think BK's claim of a 48 inch season snowfall total is unbelievable. I've been watching BK's on-line daily and season snowfall totals since they began reporting those numbers back in December. BK's daily totals match pretty well with what Seven Springs reports (BK has been a bit less than Seven Springs for the most part) , and BK has added their daily totals correctly. Moreover, I'll bet that BK's numbers are for its 3000+ foot summit, not its base.
It's also not hard for me to believe that the actual snow depth on the slopes and in the woods at BK isn't very deep, given the warm spell back in early January and the current warm spell.
If anyone is interested, here is a nice site showing daily snowfall maps for PA: http://nws.met.psu.edu/snowreport/SnowPlotCoopQuery.jsp
The data go back to 2003 and are from CoOperative Observers.
TS, I live just a few miles away from the summit of Blue Knob. And, because I'm on a high ridge that sets West of BK, I usually get slightly more snow than the summit of BK (definately not less). I can tell you UNEQUIVOCALLY that BK has NOT received more that 20 inches of natural snowfall thus far this season! I'm somewhat of a weather buff and always keep track of how much snow I receive. As for the BK daily snowfall totals that you mentioned, they are usually wild exaggerations or sometimes complete fabrications. For example, earlier this season the BK daily natural snowfall total showed that 4 inches of snow had fallen, when, in reality, ZERO (0) snow had fallen!!! And, on other days when we received some snow, the BK daily total usually showed almost DOUBLE the amount of actual snow accumulation. Again TS, BK has received about 19 or 20 inches of total snowfall thus far this season. Should you have ANY doubts about what I'm saying, then PLEASE come up to BK and see how little snow is in the woods right now! If there had been 48 inches (FOUR FEET!!!) of snow thus far this season, then there would be more than just a few inches of natural snow in the woods right now! And, as for the "current warm spell" that you mentioned, today is the first day that it has gotten above freezing (at 2,600 ft or higher) since the weather turned cold just after the big warm spell ended in early January. But, it didn't get warm enough (today) to melt any snow. Of course, it might get warm enough over the next few days to have a melting effect, in which case the limited amount of snow in the woods might disappear completely.
Interesting. So, do you think that Seven Spring's numbers and Hidden Valley's numbers might also be inflated? In other words, in you your experience, do those resorts receive much more snow than BK on average? They all claim about 120 inches on average per year.
It's too bad the NWS does not hire more CoOp observers who live near the skiable ridge tops. That would put the snowfall data gathering responsibility into the hands of people trained to report such data.
I'm also disappointed that the NWS and FAA have no ASOS stations in the south-central/western ski region of PA. If you go to http://www.rap.ucar.edu/weather/surface/java_metars/index.php?appletsize=large
and crop the south-central/western PA area, there is a huge data hole right where the ski areas are. You'd think those agencies would like to know what's happening on the accessible ridge tops.
TS, all that I can tell you is that I've kept track of the limited amount of snow that has fallen at my place this season. And, I might add that I haven't been out of the area so far this Winter. There has been less snow (thus far) this Winter than in any other Winter that I can remember. Most of the precipitation has been in the form of rain (it's usually been bone-dry when it's been cold). On the other hand, if you're to believe BK's claim that there has been 48 inches of snowfall (so far) this season, it would mean that BK is right on pace to receive 100 inches of snow (their average) this Winter, despite all the rain and mild weather, which seems rather far-fetched. Since I live about 70 minutes away from 7-Springs and Hidden Valley, I can't speak for their snowfall reports. However, there's only slightly more snow in the woods at those places right now as there is at BK.
I was thinking more about my perception of the lack of data in the southern Laurel Highlands. I searched the web and found the following PA State Climatologist site:http://pasc.met.psu.edu/MESONET/index.html
So, it turns out there are more surface observing stations than I originally thought near the southern PA ski areas. However, the site cautions one that the data is not quality controlled.
Just to provide a basic summary of the snowfall that I've observed thus far this season: Prior to the big melt-down (and rain) of late Dec. and early Jan., I observed that a total of 7 inches of snow had fallen and, I might add that we also had a major freezing rain event (1/2 inches of ICE) that resulted in downed trees and power outages. Then, after the cold weather returned, I have noted (to date) that a total of 12 inches of snow has fallen. So, based on my observations there has been a total of 19 inches of snowfall thus far this season at an elevation of 2,600 ft, just West of Blue Knob State Park.