Thanksgiving To Be Bountiful In Rockies, Table Scraps For Northeast, Midwest
The Thanksgiving Holiday Weekend marks the traditional start to the ski and snowboard season, and thanks to bountiful snowfall, some resorts are rejoicing, while others would be happy with some cold table scraps.
Resorts in the West, from British Columbia to California, Utah, Colorado and New Mexico are off to a great start thanks to numerous early-season storms - say hello to our friend El Nino - that dropped more than 100 inches of snow in some places. However, resorts in the Midwest, Southeast and Northeast regions of the country have seen little or no snow, and limited opportunities to make snow.
“We fired up the snowmaking system on Nov. 14 and made some great progress on a couple of upper-mountain trails,” Okemo’s Bonnie MacPherson told SnoCountry.com. “Okemo has invested more than $1 million in snowmaking infrastructure improvements over the last few years … and we're making the most of every opportunity (to make snow).”
Northeast Cranks Up The Snowmaking
Following a mid-October cold snap - or shall we say winter tease - resorts such as Killington, Bretton Woods and Sunday River have been making snow at every possible opportunity to keep the lifts spinning.
“The top of T2 has some shockingly big skiable snow piles right now,” said Sunday River’s Sarah Devlin, and added that a new approach to early-season snowmaking operations should provide addition skiing and riding for Thanksgiving Weekend.
Through the Northeast, snowmaking is king - and competitive! Two crews of veteran snowmakers work 12-hour shifts at Okemo to maximize the snowmaking potential when temperatures allow. In fact, Okemo's snowmaking team was just nominated as one of six of the best snowmaking teams in North America by Ski Area Management magazine - and are a contender for the highly coveted HKD I Am A Snowmaker Award in 2016. The five other nominated resort teams are Sunday River, Stowe, Copper Mountain, Whistler, and Cataloochee.
For the Northeast though it’s “Game On” as the forecast is calling for colder temperatures to arrive Thanksgiving weekend, so a few more resorts, including Okemo, may join SnoCountry’s “Open For Skiing and Snowboarding” list.
“Being open before Thanksgiving is what we're striving for,” MacPherson added. “We are completely at the whim of Mother Nature, but forecasts look favorable for good snowmaking temperatures starting this weekend.”
Winter Teases Midwest
The Upper Midwest, including Boyne Mountain and Boyne Highlands may have a shot at snowmaking with colder temperatures arriving prior to Thanksgiving. But, limited snowmaking opportunities will be available as overnight temperature drop only into the mid to upper 20s, with daytime temperatures in the 30s.
However, with most Midwest resorts scheduled to open in late November to mid-December, there is still plenty of time for Mother Nature to deliver cold and snow.
More Snow For The Rockies, More Open Resorts
The best snow and most open terrain for Thanksgiving Weekend will be found west of the Mississippi!
Arizona Snowbowl celebrates it’s earliest opening in 25 years Nov. 20, thanks to more than three feet of snow over the past few weeks. Aspen opened for an early-season teaser the weekend of Nov. 14-15 and re-opens for the season Nov. 20, while British Columbia’s Revelstoke Mountain Resort has already received 100 inches of snowfall and is scheduled to open for the season Nov. 28.
The number of open resorts will triple for Thanksgiving Weekend with Crested Butte (11/25), Steamboat (11/25), Taos (11/26), Telluride (11/26), Snow Basin (11/25) and Jackson Hole (11/26) all set to open with significant amounts of lifts and terrain. Black Friday at Jackson means skiing and riding all day for $6, retro to its opening day 50 years ago. If you’re looking for some free turns, check out Crested Butte, which is offering free lift tickets for opening day on Wednesday, Nov. 25.
The good news for those resorts is more snow is on the way, according to OpenSnow.com.
“The next major storm will be a strong, slow-moving system that should impact the western US in general, and Colorado specifically, in the days around Thanksgiving,” wrote OpenSnow’s Joel Gratz on the Colorado forecast page. “In general, the storm will form and strengthen over the west coast, near California, during the middle of next week. It will then slowly move to the east."
Top - Snowmaking continues at Maine's Sunday River (Sunday River); Below - More than 100 inches of snow has already fallen at Revelstoke Mountain Resort in British Columbia, which is scheduled to open for the season Nov. 28. (Sean Cochrane)