It has been a great season in the Potomac Highlands of WV; a dozen powder days. What could we possibly have for an encore?
I watched the weather keenly in the latter half of last week. The words "historic storm" and "snow" in close proximity always
get my attention. Trouble was that every prediction and the National Doppler pointed toward rain. Yet, even a hint of a cooling on the back side wraparound could mean 6" or more. I've seen it happen many times. In early PM on Sun. the NOAA weather page changed their entry for Davis WV from all rain on Sun. night to 1-3". Decision made, I'd play hooky on Mon.; car loaded and rolling west by 4. If it never turned to snow so what? I'd climb something on foot and experience the storm. I love wild weather in the mountains.
Mon. morning it was blowing fiercely and snowing. Where the wind had allowed it to collect the snow was compacted and heavy but dry. I skinned up The Drop at Timberline where a long line of 'whales' had been left ungroomed by the snowmakers. The spine of the whale acted as a snowfence and heavy chewy powder had collected in a 10 foot wide swath on the leeward side, occasionally interrupted by old suncupped ice. Fun, but not enough to stay for multiple runs. I went to Whitegrass and found Chip and Pete doing some tidying up in the shop. The snowfences were still up leaving a long drift line on the open slope, one of my favorites. The upper part was very nice but when the grade eased off I came to a stop in the heavy snow. No ice below and better skiing. We went to Chip's house for a pleasant lunch and a chance to see Chip's fantastic slide show from his recent Powder Creek BC hut trip. After lunch the wind had picked up even more and was hammering the walls of the Whitegrass Lodge.
After saying goodbye for this season and starting down the road I realized that I was still fresh so I went to Canaan Valley ski area, skinned up to the National Nordic Reserve, and skied both sides of Weiss Knob. It was drifted in as always and was the best snow of the day. When I came down on the open ski area slopes the gusts hit like a runaway freight train. It was unreal. I swear some were hurricane strength and I have been outside in a couple of hurricanes. It was total white out for minutes at a time as raging rivers of windblown snow swept the ground. The only time I fell all day was when I got blown over while standing still. I skinned ~ 2500 vertical feet in a raging blizzard, had a fantastic time and experienced powder bliss for a dozen 15 turn shots scattered here and there!
I love wild weather in the mountains!!!
Was wundering where you went...last we heard was "Follow my tracks" from the last April storm. Bet you didn't know the main dump was coming last nite? Nobody did...You getting some turns today?...30.7 degrees at 1155 am 3700' some flakes still around....WG says Freeland road is drifted shut!!!
Awesome storm. It snowed about 4" while at was having dinner at Blackwater Brewing Co. last night. Pleasant surprise -- but now its time to bring on spring for good!
Denis, awesome report! Glad to hear you got out there and seized the day.