The Skiing Weatherman Conditions Report: March 26-March 30
Wednesday, March 26, 2014
Now that astronomical spring is here, one thing is certain for skiers and riders in the Northeast...lift lines are shorter!!! This is the time of the season when only the hard-core seem to head for the slopes, despite an ongoing effort through the years on the part of the resorts and the industry to educate the casual winter sports enthusiasts about the glories of a spring day on the slopes. Consider...seldom is it downright cold (this morning, 3/24, would be an exception...it was well below zero across northern New York and northern New England this morning), the light on the trails is the best of the season, the snow is almost certainly going to be soft enough to carve, lunch and après’ ski on the deck of the lodge are often an “event”, and when the day is over, you can drive home in daylight! In spite of all these positives, too many people get distracted by too many other outdoor activities, which is why you don’t have to worry about lift lines.
As for the upcoming weather in the mountains, a nasty shot of late season arctic air swept into the Northeast Sunday night, and despite plenty of sunshine, the first couple of days of this week are turning out to be about 15 to 20 degrees above normal. That cold air will help set the stage for a very strong storm to spin up well south of New England on Tuesday, with the low center heading for Nova Scotia as a raging gale center by Wednesday night. As has been the case several times during this season, the track of the storm will be just a little too far offshore for a major dump of snow in the mountains of the Northeast. Some of the northern stream jet energy will interact with the cold air in place to produce light snow amounts in eastern New York and northern New England, so if you hit the slopes on Wednesday or Thursday of this week, you will find mid-winter packed powder surfaces on which to play. It will be turning milder by the end of the week, and surfaces will morph to more of a loose granular consistency. A good sign for April is the fact that trails all across the region have plenty of base snow as the month of March winds down.
Longer term, it looks as though we are going to head into a rather changeable pattern, with shots of milder than normal air moving in for several days, only to be flushed out to sea and replaced by a chilly air mass. Part of the reason that I am confident that cold shots will remain part of the landscape is that Canada is buried in snow, as shown by this latest look at North American snow cover, courtesy of NOAA...
That deep snow cover will act as a very effective cooling influence on temperatures north of the border for quite some time to come. Here is a forecast of the standard deviations of temperatures anticipated for the next ten days across Canada, our primary source region for cold air, courtesy of Environment Canada...
As you can see, there are negative values all across Canada, and well north into the sub-arctic regions. This bodes well for a skiing and riding season that should extend well into April, and perhaps into May across the far north. Any time the wind turns north of west, the chill will move across the border and help to preserve our snow cover. Along the way, I would expect additional natural snow to contribute to the longevity of the season, as well, due to the expected presence of an upper level trough much of the time over eastern North America.
So, if ever there is a season to give spring skiing a try, this might be it. Most resorts are still in full operation, or close to it, and there are no signs that trail counts are going to take a precipitous drop any time soon. Make your plans for a day or two in the mountains now...if you have never experienced the joys of spring skiing, you can thank me later.
Here are some special events on the slopes that might interest you...
- Wachusett Mt., MA-3rd Annual Up, Down, and Around Challenge 3/29, Pond Skimming Party 3/30
- Mt. Snow, VT-Sink or Swim Pond Skimming 3/29
Related Slideshow: Best Ski + Snowboard Colleges in the East
With Stowe and Sugarbush nearby, finding challenging terrain is not an issue at colleges in northern Vermont. Students at Middlebury enjoy the Snow Bowl, owned by the college, for a quick few runs when they are not up for a car ride. In less than a half hour however, they can hit the slopes at Sugarbush or Stowe. You will need to be a top student to get into Middlebury though; with an acceptance rate of just 18%, the college is among a handful of the most selective liberal arts colleges in the country.
University of Vermont
Heading north, in the picturebook city of Burlington on the shores of Lake Champlain, you will find the University of Vermont. Famous for producing both Alpine and Downhill Olympic skiers, UVM is a mecca for winter sports lovers. Buses head from campus to the slopes on the weekends, and students tune their skis in the dorm hallways at night. Sugarbush and Stowe are the most popular ski destinations for UVMers, but Smuggler’s Notch and Jay Peak also draw sports classes and snowboarders looking for slopes off the beaten path. UVM is different than most state schools in that 75% of students come from out-of-state, the university boasts an amazing honors college, it’s home to a ground breaking environmental studies program and a highly rated medical school.
St. Michael's College
Nearby in Colchester, St. Michael’s is a hidden gem among Catholic colleges in New England. St. Mike’s has a warm, pretty campus with a wide variety of majors, including business. Easy access to Burlington and all the same ski areas as UVM, make St. Mike’s a great option for students wanting a small college with reasonable acceptance rates and a nurturing academic environment.
For skiers and snowboarders who can make the Ivy League cut, there is really only one college: Dartmouth. Whether you race cross country or are a downhill enthusiast, Dartmouth’s long tradition of elite athletics will ensure top notch competition. Dartmouth has their own “SkiWay”, but it’s not on campus and most students prefer the challenge of a bigger mountain. Since Dartmouth sits close to the New Hampshire/Vermont boarder, there are quite a few options for big mountain skiing, with Killington and Okemo less than 45 minutes away.
New England College
New England College in Henniker is a tiny, ski lovers’ gem. For students who prefer a small college with very personal attention, NEC is a great choice. Those with learning differences will also find a warm and accepting environment with professor mentorships and all the tools necessary to succeed in college. Students at NEC form a tight knit community and can often be seen heading off with boards tucked under their arms in groups each afternoon to hit the slopes at nearby Loon or Waterville.
Plymouth State University
Plymouth State offers another option for boarders and skiers in central New Hampshire. With easy access to Waterville, Loon, Cannon and even the North Conway area, there are many choices for big mountain skiing. The college sprawls up the hillside in the quaint town of Plymouth, which is filled with shops and restaurants. With a medium size student body, reasonable acceptance rate and low tuition, Plymouth State is easily accessible for many students.
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