This is not exactly how the local ski industry hoped the beginning of February school vacation weeks would turn out.
Many ski areas throughout New England ended up closing or offered very limited terrain Friday due to high winds and challenging shifts in temperature. Perhaps the most accurate description for what base areas across the region looked like came from Mad River Glen’s “snow” report: “Had we known what the base area would look like at 3 a.m. we would have just organized a pond skim event for today…”
Mad River Glen was among those closing for the day, as did Cannon Mountain, Attitash, Saddleback, Magic Mountain, and Wildcat Mountain. Others, like Pats Peak and Bretton Woods went with a delayed opening.
Rain, coupled with a drastic dip in temperatures, caused plenty of freezing, leaving ski area operators scrambling in order to preserve snow for the pivotal fortnight.
“We are still planning on being open this weekend,” Mad River’s report read, “but check back later today for a better idea of what we’re finding.”
Magic Mountain, and the surrounding area in Londonderry, Vt., was without power Friday, and also saw significant damage from flooding, with sustained winds of 30-50 miles per hour, and 50-degree overnight temperatures. “The storm did impact the mountain negatively,” the ski area posted on social media, “so we will be spending the day patching and grooming it back together, along with snowmaking, for weekend skiing and riding on our snowmaking trails on East and West Sides.”
It wasn’t exactly shaping up to be a dream week for skiers anyway. Temperatures during the first half of the first week of February vacation (New Hampshire holds its school winter recess one week later) are expected to hover in the 40s with rain in the forecast. The hope might be that the further north you get, the more chance that shifts to snow, but that all remains to be seen.
February breaks are, typically, the final, pivotal stretch on the financial calendar for the ski industry. From a weather perspective, things didn’t start well at all.
By Thursday, temperatures are expected to return back to normal, with highs in the 20s in most parts of northern New England. Just getting there, though, is going to be a challenge.
Eric Wilbur can be reached at [email protected].