Another winter storm... another big bust.
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bawalker
February 20, 2005
Member since 12/1/2003
1,547 posts
I have a feeling many of you all are in some sort of disgust that I am after being bombarded by news about this potential storm for snow, sleet, freezing rain and a wintry mix, only to realize it's just another big `05 bust. What is worse is that the rain not only is not snow, but is eating away at the bases and great conditions of the past few days. Is it me, but does it seem like the moment that slope conditions are perfect for a few hours, winter has to be overrun by putrid spring like warmth and moisture to ruin any conditions we might have at snow sport enjoyment?

I do consider myself extremely lucky for deciding at the last minute to goto Timberline on Friday and boy did I find excellent conditions. So much so that I gained confidence on the board, tackled Upper Thunderstruck, Upper WhiteLightening and even OTW. Not only did I just 'survive' those trails, but I was able to work on side to side carving on all three of those and successfully stop at the bottom with a few nice swaths of paths behind me.

But anyway what has me REALLY bothered is the fact that all local radio stations, the national weather service and even Bob Ryan on NBC 4 predicted 2-4" for DC and "more in the mountains". The national weather service was running a Winter Weather Advisory including Hampshire, Hardy, Pendleton, and other such counties today around noontime hour siting concerns for freezing rain, sleet, and snow. What have we gotten? Nothing, squat, and just warm miserable may like spring drizzle.

I'm personally ticked off not only for myself, but for those who chose to hit the WV, MD, and VA ski resorts for this weekend because it appears to be one big rainy washout. I say that because tomorrow I had planned to goto Timberline again with family who had came in from Colorado who I hadn't seen since last year and we all planned to hit the slopes.

*sigh' At least I *DID* get to experience -15*F windchill temps at Timberline on Friday where the wind gusted so hard it was rocking the chairlift and I was trying to straightline down DewDrop but the wind held me in place. That was an interesting feeling.
JohnL
February 20, 2005
Member since 01/6/2000
3,509 posts
Could be worse. You could be in my shoes, stuck at home the past two weekends with the flu.

Sucky weather and sucky conditions make for the better slider. Versus me, sucking for oxygen at sea level.

But there are plenty of sweet turns remaining this season for the both of us... Don't sweat Bob Ryan.
KevR
February 20, 2005
Member since 01/27/2004
786 posts
yes, a total non-event so far... i think this might be helpful in a search for new surroundings.

www.weatherbase.com
shearer519
February 21, 2005
Member since 07/12/2004
149 posts
I don't know if this storm has been a total bust. So far here in state college we have three inches of fresh snow and still going strong. The rain has yet to show up. Also i got a report from my family who was on their way to Pittsburgh from here and said it was really snowing hard on the mountains past Altoona. Goodness for Blue knob and maybe the Laurel Highlands Resorts.
DCSki Sponsor: Seven Springs Mountain Resort
bawalker
February 21, 2005
Member since 12/1/2003
1,547 posts
True, but for the more southern daytrippers it's a huge bust and hopefully not too devistating to the bases down here after the rains. Unfortunately Laruel/BK and others are more than 3+ hours from me and I live in WV.
Mountain Masher
February 21, 2005
Member since 03/13/2004
541 posts
For the most part this storm is a total bust! I skied 7-Springs today and it started snowing hard around 1:00 PM. However, by the time I left (about 5:00 PM), it was starting to turn to rain. And, by the time I got home, which is near BK State Park, it was snowing. But, the snow didn't last very long; by 10:00 PM, the snow started to turn to all rain in Bedford Co. too. I would say that I got 2 or 3 inches of snow before the rain came. The ground level temp is still below freezing, so it's now an ice storm event. By morning, the temps across south-western PA are supposed to be above freezing, so the ice and new snow should start to melt. At least the rain is likely to end by late morning. At this point, I have to wonder how much base will be left at 7-Springs by next weekend, given that it's likely to be mild for part of the week. And, I wouldn't think that 7-Springs is going to make a lot snow between now and the end of the season. The skiing was good (not great) today, but there were a fair number of thin spots, which worries me. Anyway you look at it, the end-of-season is starting to loom large. On a positive note, the long range out-look is still calling for seasonably cold weather thru the end of March although no major snow storms are on the 2 week horizon.
Roy
February 21, 2005
Member since 01/11/2000
609 posts
We have been spoiled the last 3 years with very good winters. This year we have returned a little more to normal. Enjoy the snow we have and make some turns on slush. (It hasn't been that much ice though)
snowcone
February 21, 2005
Member since 09/27/2002
589 posts
Forget the local talking-head forecasters ... forget Accuweather, Weather.com. I don't know where these guys get their info but it seems to me that they over hype it just to get readers/viewers. The only weather sources I use are NOAA http://www.erh.noaa.gov/er/lwx/ ... Dave Tolleris over at http://www.WxRisk.com ... and the Eastern US Weather Forum; http://www.easternuswx.com/bb/index.php ... these guys are good. Needless to say, you have to wade thru a bunch of weather gobbledygook but after awhile it starts to make sense AND the predictions are exponentially more accurate than any of the commercial sites.

Tolleris was right on for this weekends storm .. go to his site and see his prediction. Generally, his accuracy rate 10 days out is around 70%, 6 days out about 80% and 3 days out darn near perfect.

Admittedly its been a sucky winter but if you have a good idea of what's coming weather-wise it tends to take some of the sting out of the bad ski/board days.

In any case the good news is that we are heading into a couple of weeks of decently cold weather towards the end of this week. That should allow the local resorts to keep their guns running and rebuild any base lost last week and this.
bawalker
February 21, 2005
Member since 12/1/2003
1,547 posts
I would be *VERY* hard pressed to accept the idea that winters like this year are considered 'normal' by any circumstances. I remember growing up here outside of Wardensville (1000') and spending alot of my time at my grandmas (Mathias - 1600') over the last 26 years and I've never once seen winters as poor as they have been in the last 10 years or so, that is not counting the last two and the biggie in 96. Plus my uncle has been doing amatuer record keeping over the last 25+ years in Mathias as well and after re-reading records has been amazed at the winter precip decline.

I say that these winters in recent years have been poor in that it wasn't uncommon when I was an early teen/pre-teen to see snow on the ground here every year in early-mid November with constant snowing of sorts be it dustings, an inch, or a foot almost every week or every other week. Heck I remember one time there was actually a several inch snow on my sisters birthday in early October.

Something is definately happening in some way shape and form. My mom has shown me pictures of when she was growing up in Mathias and there literally was snow on the ground in this county from Nov-April with maybe a period or two of when the snow melted but was followed up with more snow. I'm not even going to step into the global warming issue cause personally I don't believe that and just like with most other scientific theories, there is a lack of hard evidence to show valid proof. But something... somewhere... somehow... has changed because when in the 50's-60's this county was experiencing snow constantly for 6 months (so just imagine what Tline would have been like back then) and now we can barely get more than a dusting, there is a serious problem.

I know there are probably a few who will say that I might be overexaggerating, or those pictures only take a one day glimpse from back then... consider the fact that I've done computer work for and talked with dozens of folks 50+ in age. Each and everyone of them has told me that in recent years/decades we are NOT getting snow like we used too here in Hardy Co.
Murphy
February 21, 2005
Member since 09/13/2004
618 posts
While this year has been one of the worst on record snow-wise, if you average over the last 3 years most places around here are right on their average. And it wouldn't take something much out of the ordinary over the next 6 weeks to turn this year's horrible snowfall into a slightly below average total.
Mountain Masher
February 21, 2005
Member since 03/13/2004
541 posts
bawalker, let me give you an idea of how much the climate has changed in the mid-Atlantic over the past several hundred years. Last Thanksgiving I took my family to Colonial Williamsburg. When we toured the Colonial Governor's mansion (which is a replica built on the original foundation) we also went on a tour of the grounds, which included the ICE HOUSE. The ice house is all orginal (not a replica) and looks like a large mound. On one side is a brick faced entrance and stairs that descend down into the ice storage area. I learned that the ice storage area was quite large, capable of holding as much as 30 tons of ice, which was packed in saw-dust and straw. The ice would last well into the Summer. When I asked the tour guide where all of the ice came from, he told me that they used to chop and saw large blocks of ice out of the James River!

Even during my lifetime I have seen a dramatic change in the climate. I grew up in Northern VA and we had 3 ponds near our house. And, I spent much of each Winter playing ice hockey with friends on those ponds. Sometimes we would make a large bon-fire along the shore and skate well into the night. I have lots of pictures of skating on those ponds.

I have visted Cape Hatteras every Summer since I was 3. During this time I have seen a significant portion of the Island disappear. I have a picture of the Cape Hatteras light house that was taken in 1963, the picture shows that a grass covered dune and a road stood between the light house and the ocean. By the time that the light house was moved (about 5 or 6 years ago) the dune and the road were long gone and, during times of high seas, waves sometimes broke against the light house itself!
bawalker
February 21, 2005
Member since 12/1/2003
1,547 posts
My whole thought isn't avg temps, avg amounts of snowfall, etc. It's rather what ever happened to winters in the last 30 years up here where snow fell plentifully and regularly. I would almost say that the way things are anymore, we are outstretched nearly begging for snow. Yes we may get a big powder dump every now and then which brings our averages up, but that is a far cry from when this area used to get a 6" snow here... a 12" snow there... temps cold enough that the remaining snow continued to build up.
Roger Z
February 21, 2005
Member since 01/16/2004
2,181 posts
bawalker I've looked at a number of NOAA weather data around the Mid-Atlantic and there's something interesting in the data that would probably interest you. If you look at datapoints that begin in the 1960s or early 1970s, what you notice until 2000 is a warm-up of about a degree (usually- sometimes less sometimes more) in observed temps. Looks like things are warming up, right?

Well, a number of stations go back to the 1930s and 1940s. If you look at THAT data, what you see is temps cooling into the late 60s and early 70s, followed by the warm-up, such that over the last 75-80 years in the Mid-Atlantic, most locations show no trend one way or the other.

That's not to extrapolate anything into the future, but just to send out a word of caution that photographs and personal observations from the 1950s and 1960s are as likely to be off-center as photographs and observations these days. In other words: are we in a warm phase or were the 1950s and 1960s in a cool phase? The data is inconclusive other than to say that the temps trended down for about 30 years and then up for about 30 years, which correlates well with the North Atlantic oscillation.

One other point of interest: a number of datapoints west of the Allegheny divide in West Virginia actually show a slight cooling tend since the early 70s. But what's even more interesting than that is that the cooling trend is almost entirely attributable to a downward shift in temperatures from August to October. The rest of the year- west of the Allegheny divide- has stayed the same since the early 70s (again, more or less), neither warming nor cooling. I don't know why this is.
JohnL
February 21, 2005
Member since 01/6/2000
3,509 posts
Some recent historical snowfall data from Whitegrass. Whitegrass, WV Snowfall

71" and 56 skiable days so far this year.

The two previous years were epic and near epic:
196" and 126 in 03-04.
224" and 136 in 02-33.

Since 87-88, there have been 5 winters (not counting this one), with under 105 inches of snowfall. In other words, there has been a lot of variation in the snowfall amounts from year to year.

Not all memories of past winters are good ones. West Virginia this year is Lake Tahoe compared to the winter of 79-80 in Vermont.
KevR
February 21, 2005
Member since 01/27/2004
786 posts
I can parrot Mtn Masher -- colder here growing up until around -- well i think it was the 90s when i started noticing a pattern change. I read somewhere there was an acknowledged cold spell in the 60s-70s in this area -- no ref do i have so my memory may be faulty. Also I believe there was a "mini-ice age" some time the 1700s? Again, all I recall of the article was the Thames used to freeze over and folks skated there for a bit. One thing is clear, even in a single lifetime weather patterns can change. Around here it seems like we have a short winter these days. Three months is a "good season"...
wgo
February 21, 2005
Member since 02/10/2004
1,261 posts
Quote:

Also I believe there was a "mini-ice age" some time the 1700s?




I think I remember reading that there was a warming trend around the year 1000, allowing the vikings to colonize iceland , parts of greenland, and to have possibly explored and briefly settled an outpost in North America. The "Little Ice Age" (onset around 1400?) drove them from these outposts.

I also remember reading something about how Thomas Jefferson in his old age would reminisce about the feet of snow that would lie on the ground during the winters of his youth. Guess that tracks with MM's post about cutting blocks of ice from the James during colonial times.
Roger Z
February 21, 2005
Member since 01/16/2004
2,181 posts
The mini-ice age kicked in around the mid 1400s, disappeared for a little, and then there was a relatively steady decline until the late 1600s/early 1700s-- about the time they would have been hauling ice out of the James River, yes. Although things moderated a little the "ice age" continued well into the 19th Century. The warm-up that we have seen over the last 80-100 years globally is slightly below the 1100s-1400s, the "climate optimum" as it has been called by some. I'm guessing those who call it that are not mid-Atlantic skiers.
SkiBumMSP
February 21, 2005
Member since 12/8/2004
224 posts
Quote:

I'm personally ticked off not only for myself, but for those who chose to hit the WV, MD, and VA ski resorts for this weekend because it appears to be one big rainy washout. I say that because tomorrow I had planned to goto Timberline again with family who had came in from Colorado who I hadn't seen since last year and we all planned to hit the slopes.




I just got back from three days of skiing at Massanutten, and the conditions there were awesome! Unless we get a huge warmup, they fully expect to make it until the weekend of the 19th and 20th of March (who was it that was asking if Massanutten would be open on the 20th? Take your skis/board, since it just may be).

Yes, I am disappointed we did not see the "4 to 6 inches" that was predicted for up there, and fortunatly, the rain held off until I was done around 4:30 today. (Now it is raining to beat hell here in Fredericksburg, and I would bet it is raining up there also). The weather is supposed to cool off again later this week and hopefully, they will do some snowmaking to shore it up some.

I fully expect to ski for at least the next three weekends up there myself.
JR
February 22, 2005
Member since 01/1/2003
276 posts
Quote:


I just got back from three days of skiing at Massanutten, and the conditions there were awesome! Unless we get a huge warmup, they fully expect to make it until the weekend of the 19th and 20th of March (who was it that was asking if Massanutten would be open on the 20th? Take your skis/board, since it just may be).





Excellent. Thanks for the report. I've been watching local areas and their conditions for about 4 years now since I started seriously boarding and I noticed they seem to be much more aggressive than in the past at Mass. Hope they make it, and with the expert quad too, not that I'm greedy or anything
Swimmer
February 22, 2005
Member since 02/3/2005
143 posts
While I agree that the local snow fall and weather has really been anticlimatic, look at the bright side. At least you don't live in the Pacific Northwest with their typical totals of over 10 feet at the resorts, only to have this year leaving nothing but rock showing. Most of the PNW's resorts have shut down for the season. That would really burn me up. I don't ever expect the mid Atlantic to have decent snow. It's nice when it happens, but my mtn bike never goes into winter hibernation. Always ready for a quick ride.

Steve

Steve
tromano
February 22, 2005
Member since 12/19/2002
998 posts
MSP,

Thanks for the info report. Honestly I think the doom and gloomers are way too much in force right now. The next month or so should still be skiable arround here and that is all that matters.

Conditions look pretty good to me as almost all area resorts are 100% open. Interestingly the resorts such as T-Line, 7S, etc... which are usually opened the latest in the season seem to be having the most trouble this season with maintaining the base / not getting trails open. This may be becuase they are used to getting more natural snow on average and don't count on having to run their guns on the whole mountain every 2 weeks to maintain a melting base. This has led to worse than normal conditions. These resorts may end up closing early this year because they will not want to keep making snow after 3/1 and with the bases as they are they are they can't last long in the spring thaw. Either they will blow more snow or fold early.

Even more interesting is that other easter resorts in warmer climates with less average anual snow like Roundtop and Mass have been in great ocnditison almost all season long due to their agressive snow making. They currently have great conditions, thick bases, and may stay open later than the traditionally late closers. If this season is goign to hold to form it has been predictably unpredictable. A late seaosn snow even still seems to be a possibliity. Even if not another snow flake falls, the season is not nearly as bad as it could have been. Thank God for snow making. I think it is amazing that spring sking is even an option given the lack of snow this winter.
Mountain Masher
February 22, 2005
Member since 03/13/2004
541 posts
Hi tromano, I sure hope that I'm wrong, but based on what I've heard from my brother (who lives near Massanutten), the base at Massanutten has really started to deteriorate at this point. Plus, it's likely to get up into the 50s (with a possibility of rain) by the middle of next week at Massanutten. Frankly, I don't see how Massanutten (or a couple of other day-trip ski areas) will make it past the first weekend in March. Or let me put it this way, after the first Sunday in March is over, we're likely to see one or more ski areas in the mid-Atlantic close for the season.
Roy
February 23, 2005
Member since 01/11/2000
609 posts
What about the storm they're calling for tonight and tomorrow? (2-4 inches)
warren
February 23, 2005
Member since 07/31/2003
485 posts
Roy,
Given all the other hyped-up forecasts, I'm not really counting on anything much (maybe that means we'll get a dump )

-Warren-
Mountain Masher
February 23, 2005
Member since 03/13/2004
541 posts
Roy, getting 2 to 4 inches of snow is really nice; like icing on a cake. But, I'm not really sure that 2 to 4 inches of snow would have much of an effect on extending the ski season.
snowcone
February 23, 2005
Member since 09/27/2002
589 posts
Roy ...

You might want to take a look at this ... http://www.wxrisk.com/Meteorology/Verification/2004-05/feb24/ne1.jpg ... Tolleris is one of the best and later today he will update with his final call at ... http://www.wxrisk.com ... I expect we are going to get some white stuff with the local weather forums saying the mountains should get a decent dump.

Hang in there!

'Cause there is a Nor'easter coming in next week for the MidA. It's expected to be a snow event but its still too far out to be more specific
Rickh
February 23, 2005
Member since 12/2/2004
130 posts
They are now calling for 6" - 9"+ @ TLine!!!!!!!

Think Snow
tromano
February 23, 2005
Member since 12/19/2002
998 posts
DC area 6-12" ? Nice! WXRISK
Snowmakers
February 23, 2005
Member since 11/23/2004
222 posts
Woohoo. 4"-8" for me (Close to the homestead). This year so far only gotten 5". Thats around 17% of normal. Finally, enough to cover up the grass blades.
SkiBumMSP
February 24, 2005
Member since 12/8/2004
224 posts
Well, it looks like we are getting it! It is snowing to beat hell here in Fredericksburg right now as I am typing this, and has no signs of slowing down anytime soon!

Damn, how I wish I was at Massanutten right now! That snow looks like to be some sweet looking powder for my skis to play in! Should've drove up there last night and stayed there for today!

Pictures I took right out my back deck as around 9:00 AM this morning:



Ski and Tell

Snowcat got your tongue?

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