The snow gods giveth, and the snow gods taketh away. After a toasty December with little snow, and in a little bit of a panic, we asked our readers to bust out a snow dance to awaken Old Man Winter from his slumber. And then a miracle occurred.
The second two-thirds of January brought periods of snow and severe cold, courtesy of the polar vortex. In Canaan Valley, W.Va., the mercury dropped all the way down to minus-19 on Jan. 31. With such low temperatures, resorts were able to make a ton of snow in addition to the natural powder that came down.
Then, in a dizzying turn of events, the cold retreated to the north and was immediately replaced by blowtorch record highs. A few days ago, temperatures soared all the way into the 70s at some of the lower-elevation resorts in Virginia. The deep snow bases and warm temperatures made for fantastic spring skiing conditions.
But snow bases took a beating with those balmy temperatures and a scattering of rain showers. Yet, we’re happy to report that the majority of ski terrain remains open at local ski areas. You have to hand it to the hard-working grooming and snow-making crews.
Perusing the webcams at area resorts Friday morning, the conditions look a little wet and sloppy, with some bare spots opening up on the slopes. But don’t be discouraged by the balmy weather — most resorts are still close to 100 percent open.
The same can’t be said for cross-country areas. While the downhill ski resorts made it through the warm spell because of gigantic amounts of man-made snow blown during frigid temperatures, the cross-country trails are nothing but mud, and those folks are in a holding pattern until the next natural snowstorm arrives. The good news is that could be as early as Monday.
In the meantime, cold air was pouring back over the downhill ski resorts Friday, and the snow guns will be on full blast immediately to cover the slopes back up.
Cold weather all weekend means improving ski conditions. Snow-making is likely, especially at night and in the morning. Storminess returns Sunday evening into early next week with snow and mixed precipitation.
Front-range resorts (Virginia and south-central Pennsylvania ski areas)
Saturday: Mostly sunny. Highs 30-35.
Sunday: Increasing clouds. Highs 35-40.
High-country resorts (southwestern Pennsylvania, Western Maryland and West Virginia ski areas)
Saturday: Mostly sunny. Highs 25-30.
Sunday: Increasing clouds. Highs 30-35.
Capital Weather Gang’s Mid-Atlantic ski report is published every Friday during the cold season, December through March.