Boston has been breaking records left and right this winter for snowfall, but what about the mountain resorts in the Northeast? Many resorts across the region are looking at smashing year-end snow totals if they haven't already. Yes, it’s been cold, but that has meant super-fluffy powder days that New Englanders often have to head west to find.
Mount Sunapee in southwest New Hampshire has really reaped the benefits of many of the storms that have come in quick succession this year. They have received 104 inches so far this season, which includes 70 inches since Jan. 24. With an average of about 105 inches a year, they’ve all but broken the season-end average by the third week in February.
Unfortunately, the sheer amount of snow in Boston, numerous storms on peak days (weekends and holidays) and the below average temperatures have had an effect on business. Sunapee is a day trip mountain whose major market is Boston. During storms and blizzards even skiers are reluctant to travel. But Sunapee’s Bruce McCloy told SnoCountry.com that there will certainly be pent up demand this spring.
“We still have more than seven weeks of scheduled operation at Mount Sunapee. With all the snow, we think March and April will be very busy, especially once things loosen up in Boston.The skiing and riding has been unbelievable. We are hearing that skiers and riders from out west are coming to New England to ski and ride.”
The statewide average in Vermont as of this week is around 185 inches so far this season “and we still have what is often the snowiest month to come, March,” Ski Vermont’s Sarah Wojcik told us. “Looking at end of season snowfall totals, we've already surpassed some of the low snow years and are on track to do very well with totals if we keep getting more snow.”
Okemo, Vt., is creeping up on the 10-foot mark for seasonal snowfall so far, with over four feet of snow falling in February alone. Their annual average is around 16 feet and tracking on par with most other years.
Okemo’s Bonnie MacPherson is optimistic that all the snow in southern New England this year will make for enthusiastic skiers and riders come spring. “The backyard effect is certainly in play this year and it’s something we always hope for. The last think the ski industry wants to see is people down-country golfing and biking when the skiing is so good in Vermont.”
MacPherson added, “There’s also a lot of buzz going around about Okemo’s new six-passenger bubble chair lift. And if there was ever a year to introduce a lift with wind screens and heated seats … well, this was it!”
At Vermont’s Smugglers’ Notch, snow total season-to-date is 211 inches, putting them well ahead of the 205 inches they average by the end of February. “Mother Nature is delivering snow consistently, and Smugglers' does typically get some nice snowfall in March,” Smugg’s Karen Boushie told us. “Our visitors have been raving about conditions on the mountain and that's creating good buzz for the remainder of the season.”
At Maine’s Sunday River, the season-to-date total is 147 inches, with an average season total of 167. “It’s still February. I think we’ll surpass our seasonal average since March is typically one of the snowiest months of the season,” Sunday River’s Sarah Devlin told us.
Although skier traffic has remained steady with previous seasons, Devlin believes “people who were overwhelmed by the snow in their backyards seem to have been balanced out by people who came skiing because of all that snow, or by people who choose to extend their stays to avoid driving in the snow.”
Devlin added, “As for snow quality, it’s been great to see these super cold temps accompanying all the snowfall. The snow has been dry and has remained light and powdery for the most part. Even if wind does scour a trail, it seems to get a snow refresher pretty quickly.”
Photos: Top -- Face shots seem to be the norm this snowy winter at Sunday River (Sunday River); Bottom: Snowy vistas from Drifter at Smugglers' Notch. (Hugh Johnson/Smugglers' Notch Resort)