Late season snow on top of a closed Stowe Mountain Resort
Normally a foot and a half snowstorm on April 10th would be cause for celebration - not so this year. In a parting shot that can only be described as bitterly ironic, a late season snowstorm swept across the Northeast early this week dropping upwards of 18" on ski resorts across the Northeast. The only problem? Almost all of those resorts were shuttered for the winter.
In Vermont, only Killington and Jay Peak remained open long enough to benefit from the late season windfall. The new snow has allowed both resorts to open terrain that had previously been thought closed for the season. Still, snowfall totals for the year are over 100" below normal. In Killington's case, it is the lowest snowfall total recorded in at least the last 25 years.
The winter of 2011-12 will certainly go down as one of the most memorable winters on record, but for all the wrong reasons. It will forever be remembered as a warm, dry winter bookended by two "useless" snowstorms.
Winter began on an auspicious note as an unusual October snowstorm blanketed the Northeast and brought many areas their first White Halloween in over 100 years. However, only a handful of resorts took advantage of the early snowfall and opened (notably, Killington and Sunday River). The autumn snow quickly proved to be fools (white) gold as persistent warmth prevented most resorts across the Northeast - and for that matter the country - from opening more than a handful of trails in time for the Christmas holiday.
When the calendar finally rolled into winter, the old man was nowhere to be found. The "winter" of 2011-12 was one of the warmest and driest on record. Some resorts, particularly those without snowmaking, didn't open at all. Spring skiing also came early as temperatures soared into the low 80's by St. Patricks Day, melting away what little snowpack remained. Some resorts closed up to a month earlier than scheduled.
As if such a horrible confluence of bad luck weren't enough misery for one winter, Mother Nature had one last trick up her sleeve. Kudos to the resorts that stayed open long enough to reap the harvest from winter's last major snowstorm. As for the rest of us who traded our skis for golf clubs week ago, well...Mother Nature just flipped us the bird. Here's to hoping 2012-13 is better than 2011-12. After all, it can't get any worse...can it?