Only 1-2 inches of Snow Made Last Night
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MichaelB
December 20, 2006
Member since 11/20/2000 🔗
61 posts
How is it that Whitetail only blows one or two inches of snow when the temps were in the teens up there last night?

And Liberty's webcams look even more depressing......it looks like they didn't blow anything last night.

Is it me or are the cams not updated? I assumed they would blanket the place because this is there only window of opportunity over the next 10 days or so.
kennedy
December 20, 2006
Member since 12/8/2001 🔗
792 posts
It may have been that it didn't get cold enough until later in the night and on top of that it really depends on what the humidity was doing. Throw in the fact that between now and Christmas they may not get the skier traffic they want it may not justify them throwing down thick layer. It's also supposed to rain during the weekend so even if they made it it's just going to get eroded.
therusty
December 20, 2006
Member since 01/17/2005 🔗
422 posts
Darn I wasn't paying attention, but I don't think it got into the teens. The low for Mercersburg yesterday was 29. Plus with the wind low, we often get temperature inversions. The heavier cold air rushes down the mountain and settles at the lower elevations so it's warmer at the mountain than what gets reported for Mercersburg.

Because there is a huge startup cost to just turning on the snowmaking, it's not something that's practical to do for just an hour or two. But at this time of year Whitetail and Liberty will make snow at almost every opportunity because every little bit helps. With the warm short term forecast, the strategy is mainly to keep whatever we already have open. With borderline temps and high humidity, even 1-2 inches is a gift that will help keep Whitetail open through Xmas.
Taylormatt
December 20, 2006
Member since 12/3/2004 🔗
339 posts
That's exactly what we had at 7S. The base got down to 28-29 area, but the top was far warmer. I live 500' lower than 7S's base and it was 19 here, while 29 at the base when I woke up. Not good for any of us.
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Scott - DCSki Editor
December 20, 2006
Member since 10/10/1999 🔗
1,132 posts
It unfortunately never got in the teens. It barely dipped below freezing. I checked the webcam and temp around 1:30 a.m., and the temperature in Mercersburg was still around 34 or 35 and it didn't look like any snowguns were running yet. I imagine they were only able to turn the guns on briefly shortly before sunrise.

Oh well, something is better than nothing.

Snowmaking was better in WV.
johnfmh - DCSki Columnist
December 20, 2006
Member since 07/18/2001 🔗
1,918 posts
I think credit must be given to Whitetail for being honest. I wish every resort in this area was as well-managed. Hats off to the tail.
Packyderm1
December 20, 2006
Member since 11/8/1999 🔗
36 posts
Checked the cams around 2AM last night. Noticed that they were making snow at the very top, just at the edge of some of the cams looking up the slopes, guess it was too warm at the time to make snow at the bottom. Looks like they were trying to make as much as they could where the temps would permit.
camp
December 21, 2006
Member since 01/30/2005 🔗
592 posts
I give Whitetail a lot of credit too. I've skied there 4 times since opening day, and the last time (Monday) was getting "dodgy" with all the growing brown spots. Tuesday night there were only a few hours of cold enough temps, and what they had to do was just freshen/whiten up what they already had open. It's gonna be a long time before they can open up the whole mountain.
MichaelB
December 21, 2006
Member since 11/20/2000 🔗
61 posts
See, this is where it gets confusing because when I left the house in Frederick on Wed. a.m. the temp was 21, so I assumed it must be at least 2 degress colder in Mercersburg. So does that mean it was warmer at Whitetail than in Frederick? Sounds fishy to me. I checked the NOAA site and it was 19 in Mercersburg according to the NOAA obs at 7 a.m. and yet they were not cranking out any snow. Now we all know why......because they were anticipating the rain to come and they had switched to the philosophy of "diminishing returns". I understand the business side, but they are going to be quite surprised that the forecasters are wrong about the amounts of rain and the temps are overestimated and we the paying public get to suffer as a result with one lousy run open at Whitetail and Liberty never blew anything on Heavenly....Boooooo!

Whew....I feel much better now!
johnfmh - DCSki Columnist
December 21, 2006
Member since 07/18/2001 🔗
1,918 posts
What about micro-climates and inversions? Unless you are standing at various points on the mountain with a Carrier approved professional thermometer, it's hard to get an accurate temperature read. Furthermore, relative humidity is key in snowmaking (wet bulb temps). In short, snowmaking is quite a science and it's tough to arm chair quarterback what the professionals are doing.
therusty
December 22, 2006
Member since 01/17/2005 🔗
422 posts
Michael,

It may be hard for you to believe that it simply was not cold enough at Whitetail to make more snow. It may be easy for you to believe that SnowTime was trying to save money because of the bad weather. But consider this: starting a snowmaking system is like turning on a florescent light. There is a huge energy investment just to turn the system on because air and water have to be run through several compression and cooling cycles before they are ready to be blown (but if they are only using the fan guns, they only have to compress water at the plant). Once you've gone through the investment into getting started, you want to blow for as long as you can. If they were trying to save money, why would they have started the guns at all for just a couple of hours and why would they have blown on the tubing slope? There's a very good chance that that entire slope will be bare by Sunday.

Of course, I am biased because I work there. But because I work there and I know a little something about how things work, I can tell you that the snowmaking strategy used at Whitetail this year has been to maximise the amount of snow being made instead of concentrating it on a few runs. Tubing, Limelight and Exhibition were a couple of days away from being ready to open, but in hindsight seems foolish for trying. Why did they try? Because they have fan guns on them and fan guns provide extra snowmaking capacity via their onboard air compressors.

Have you ever experienced a temperature inversion at Whitetail? Shortly after full sunset, for about 5 minutes on the EZ rider lift, there will be about a 25 mph downdraft of cold air at the surface hitting you in the face as you get on the lift. As you hit the first lift tower, the wind switches directions and is about 20 degrees warmer. In 13 seasons, I've personally experienced this all of 3 times. Normally, at most, there is a 1-2 degreee temperature difference between the bottom and the top. But weather can do weird things occasionally. Being warmer in Mercersburg than in Frederick does not even rate as weird. That's just unusual. Did you know that Blairs Valley sometimes has its own micro climate? There are many times when the weather at Whitetail differs significantly from Clear Spring and Mercersburg town which are just a few miles away. Did you know that official temperature measurements are made 6 inches off the ground? That's why we can have a frost when the temperature does not officially get down to 32. During an inversion, it's also one more reason why snow can not be made 20 feet above ground when the wet bulb temperature at ground level may be below 32.

Second guessing, Monday morning quarterbacking and 20-20 hindsight may be fun. And we are going to be making some mistakes along the way (that is the nature of making lots of decisions - you get some of the wrong). Whitetail pays big money for a resort specific weather forecast. Occasionally, it's wrong just like any forecast. But historically, it's been worth every penny. We may know a lot about our weather, but we have not figured out a way to change it.

At Whitetail, we are skiers and riders too. This weather hurts us in our hearts just like yours. We get it beat into our thick heads every week that we need to strive to make every customer experience so enjoyable that they will want to return again and again. We do care. We try very very hard to not "make the public suffer". We also hope that you will find it in your heart to see that we are trying as hard as we can to get our season going.

Disclaimer - this is not an "official" message from Whitetail. It's just an opinion from a guy who works there and cares.
tomimcmillar
December 22, 2006
Member since 11/21/2004 🔗
129 posts
Quote:

What about micro-climates and inversions? Unless you are standing at various points on the mountain with a Carrier approved professional thermometer, it's hard to get an accurate temperature read. Furthermore, relative humidity is key in snowmaking (wet bulb temps). In short, snowmaking is quite a science and it's tough to arm chair quarterback what the professionals are doing.




hey John, I'm gonna have to disagree with you here.....

I think it's painfully obvious that it's not tough at all to armchair quarterback.
MichaelB
December 22, 2006
Member since 11/20/2000 🔗
61 posts
Rusty,

Thanks for the explanation. The way you explained it makes complete sense. I know how hard you guys work and believe me it is truly appreciated! Have a Merry Christmas!

I ski every weekend (when I can) and Whitetail is a slamdunk favorite of mine.
therusty
December 28, 2006
Member since 01/17/2005 🔗
422 posts
Well, what do you know? Last night was another night where it was colder in Frederick/Mount Airy than it was in Mercersburg. You could see the snow being made on the top of the mountain on the web cams. They did not even make it to half way down. The web site says Whitetail only needs 1-2 nights of snowmaking to reopen. Well, we've had 2 nights now and we're still not close to enough snow to reopen. That is, 2 nights if you want to believe there is some big conspiracy going on. For the rest of us, we'll just believe that Whitetail is trying as hard they can.
tommo
December 28, 2006
Member since 01/16/2004 🔗
303 posts
There is no doubt, whatsoever, that Whitetail, Liberty Roundtop and ALL the other areas have done everything possible to get some white on the ground this year. Anyone who would like to see ski areas in operation within an hour or so of the DC/Baltimore region has to be pulling for colder weather so that there isn't a total financial meltdown for these high-wire small businesses. We need cold.

On a related note, Wisp and Seven Springs (and reportedly Timberline) made snow all day yesterday and last night in an effort to shore up the slopes that are open. This is very unusual, at least in the case of Wisp, where they rarely run the guns while people are on the slopes. I think it illustrates the severity of the warm, southern airflow this year that has, so far, disrupted any semblance of winter weather. Hopefully the patterns will change. Soon.
Mountain Masher
December 28, 2006
Member since 03/13/2004 🔗
541 posts
A few days ago, the Washington Post featured an article about climate change in the mid-Atlantic. As it turns out, the US Dept. of Agriculture has now revised its official climatic map, which moved much of the greater DC area into a warmer zone. The DC area is now in a climatic zone that was once located South of Richmond, VA. I might add that this warm zone now extends out as far as some of the ski areas. From what I can tell, it's likely that 1 out of every 2 Winters will be warmer than average (based on the 30 year average), 1 out of four Winters will be average (or normal) and only 1 out of four Winters will be colder than normal (at best). So I have to wonder if all of the ski areas located within the mid-Atlantic will be able to turn a reasonable profit under the aforementioned climatic conditions or will some decide to stop the lifts for the last time.
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