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February 10, 2010

Winter Storm Round-Up (Oh, the Irony!)


Bigsnow_(courtesy, Tristan Greszko_Jackson Hole Mountain Resort)
(courtesy, Tristan Greszko/Jackson Hole Mountain Resort)

The folks over at GraphJam.com like to take pot-shots at Alanis Morissette, and I can't always blame them. This particular fan-submitted chart, which details what in the whining Canadian's megahit "Ironic" is actually ironic (versus what is just unfortunate circumstance), always pops into my head when I'm tempted to say "Well, that's ironic." Which is exactly what I was going to do having been a) confined to my home office in Washington, D.C., for nearly a week thanks to the 30-plus-and-still-falling-inches of snow outside and b) tasked to write a recent history of snowstorms for skiers heading out this President's Day Weekend. Seeing as the closest mountain to D.C. has just one double-black-diamond rated slope at 935 feet of vertical, I'm filing this one under "Snow, snow everywhere, but not a slope to ski." Unfortunate circumstance, indeed.

Nevertheless, regions of the country with actual mountains have been getting pasted by the same storms that seem to be attracted by magnets to our nation's capital. Here's a quick look for you President's Day Weekend ski travelers:

Wolf Creek, Colorado
Base Depth: 105"
Season Total: N/A
Recent Snow: 22"
The winners of the meteorological lottery over the past month, Southwestern Colorado and Northern New Mexico have been enjoying deep snows without a lot of fanfare. It might surprise many to find out that little-known Wolf Creek, a decidedly non-luxury mom-and-pop joint with no hotels, good-not-great terrain, and a nearby town (Pagosa Springs) that smells constantly of sulfur, actually gets the best snow in Colorado. Sure, neighbors in the San Juan Mountains like Telluride, Silverton, and Durango, get the same deep, light fluff, but something about this resort's position atop Wolf Creek Pass allows it to eat up the snow totals. As I was checking OnTheSnow.com for totals, the inches kept piling up as I hit "refresh" on my browser. If you're heading to Telluride or Taos, you're in luck. If you're within driving distance of the southwest part of the Centennial State, start packing the car. Elsewhere in Colorado, Crested Butte picked up ten inches over the weekend, and it looks like Summit County is starting to get theirs, with Copper and Breckenridge reporting some, though not a lot, of snow over the weekend.

Seven Springs, Pennsylvania
Base Depth: 42"
Season Total: N/A
Recent Snow: 34"
We've got to give the devil his due here. The Mid-Atlantic is just silly with snow right now. As much as I wanted to write about Vermont or New Hampshire—I'd planned to drive up with some friends and family for the long weekend—places south of New England are the ones with all the white stuff. Snowshoe, West Virginia, actually reports a higher season total on its site than Killington (150" vs. 119"). Tell me the last the time that happened? Seven Springs, along with southern Pennsylvania kin like Ski Liberty and Ski Roundtop, sit in the Top Ten for recent snow. Whether these slopes (minus Snowshoe, which is legitimately steep) have enough pitch that you could actually move in three feet of snow... I'll leave that up for discussion.

Jackson Hole Mountain Resort
Base Depth: 74"
Season Total: 286"
Recent Snow: 0"
So the storms have dropped off a bit in recent days. For the past two weeks, I've been seeing nothing but Facebook status updates and Tweets of those in Jackson lapping up the powder. "Check out The Crags!" "Knee deep!" "Look at this helmet cam footage!" "Meet me @ the Mangy Moose!" You get the idea. As I wrote in an earlier blog post, Jackson had a rough early season thanks in part to some El Nino weather patterns and general bad luck. Late January made up for the early season misery at Jackson and Grand Targhee, bringing an estimated six FEET of snow in just a matter of days. But don't take my word for it. Check out this sweet helmet cam footage:

February 2, 2010 from Andrew Whiteford on Vimeo.

Whistler Blackcomb, British Columbia
Base Depth: 104"
Season Total: 394"
Recent Snow: 4"
Olympic athletes should be excited with the torch arriving in Whistler Village this week. Unfortunately, they're probably not too excited about the warm front passing through the area melting all their snow. (I blame Lindsey Vonn's too-hot-for-TV Sports Illustrated photo shoot.) Unlike some other northern reaches, WB had an amazing early season, notching 300+ inches of snowfall before the New Year, but its slackened some of late. Canadian Press reports that Olympic officials are actually trucking snow into Cypress Mountain, closer to Vancouver, for the Games. But according to Weather Underground, there is some storm activity in the northern Pacific right now that could push some moisture towards British Columbia. Let's just hope it's not rain.


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