|01-22-2005, 03:25 PM||#1|
Join Date: Apr 2001
Mt. Hood Meadows Closes...
Damn! This is so lame. I've got a 10 time pass, and haven't gotten a chance to use one of them. I've tried to go for the last two weeks, but freezing rain last week kept me at home (I got on the road, but couldn't get out of my subdivision without fishtailing. Not to long after that, I saw a nasty wreck and it was time to be heading home. Now this weekend I try to go, and they've got the place closed...
Ski resorts shut down on a warm winter's day
High temperatures melt snow at Mt. Hood Meadows and Skibowl, forcing closures that are rare for a weekend in January
Saturday, January 22, 2005
The empty parking lot at Mt. Hood Meadows looked like a lake this week, covered by water from snow melted by days of record-warm temperatures, all of which are combining to create one of the worst Pacific Northwest ski seasons in years.
After ski operators struggled for two months to get enough snow to attract skiers, warm weather this week closed all but one resort on Mount Hood and several others in the Cascade Range in Washington.
Mt. Hood Meadows suspended operations Tuesday, as did Mt. Hood Skibowl, cutting short a season that, for the most part, was just getting started. Skibowl was open only 14 days before the big melt, and Meadows was open 29.
On Mount Hood, only Timberline, with its higher elevation and glacier skiing, remains open.
Ski bums who don't mind a three- to five-hour road trip can head southeast to Mount Bachelor or south to Mount Ashland, where this year's snow has sticking power and conditions are much better, operators say. And west of Sisters, Hoodoo remains open despite "soft snow," according to its Web site.
The weekend forecast for Mount Hood is for rain and continued warm temperatures. But snow down to the 4,000 foot level is predicted next week.
Meadows and Skibowl will be closed today -- a Saturday closure in January is rare, said Dave Tragethon, Meadows' marketing manager. Ski operators will decide today whether to open Sunday.
But the conditions that have created a weak Oregon ski season have created better results elsewhere. Mild El Nino conditions have pushed precipitation to the north and south of Oregon, dumping double the usual amount of snow on the mountains of Central California, Colorado and Utah.
Here's the breakdown of what's happened on Mount Hood:
November, a month ski resorts count on to build their base, was dry. It snowed the first 10 days of December, then it was mostly dry. That allowed areas to open and have sunny weather for the week after Christmas, when skier traffic was brisk.
Taylor said that on Jan. 1, the snowpack on Mount Hood was 37 percent of average. By Jan. 17, it was 43 percent of average and looking as if it would improve. Then the winter heat wave came through and the snowpack dropped back down to 36 percent of average.
February and March generally are good snow months in the mountains, said George Taylor, Oregon climatologist. In fact, snow accumulates in typical years until about April 1.
"I think we're going to get a buildup," he said. "The ski season is not over, but it's certainly not going to go down as an outstanding season by any measure."
Like Taylor, ski operators are still hoping.
"It's temporary," said Hans Whipper, operations manager at Skibowl. "I have more confidence that we'll open again."
He also has confidence that when they do open, skiers will come.
"The whole Northwest is experiencing the same thing." he said. "I'm hoping there's a rush because of pent-up demand. Nobody's been able to get their fix."
Tragethon said Meadows officials are concerned about the business they're losing day to day, but the good news is that 85 percent of the skiers who visit the area are local.
"If they can't come today, they will come tomorrow if the snow is good." he said. "If you're a destination resort, you lose a holiday weekend and that business is gone. It's not coming back."
Above it all
Jon Tullis, public affairs director for Timberline, said the ski area is more insulated from the problem because of the Palmer Glacier, which sits at 8,400 feet. The glacier's popular summer ski run often closes during harsh winter weather but is open this winter.
"We're in the winner column," he said. "It creates a little monopoly on the snow because of the elevation."
Although Timberline's business is ahead of last year's, particularly over the holidays, Tullis said the area could use more snow to extend the season and to ensure enough snow for its snowboard park and halfpipe during the spring and summer.
While they hope for snow, the resorts on Mount Hood are better prepared for financial down years.
Timberline's busiest season is summer, when skiers and snowboarders from around the world gather daily on the glacier. Meadows, which also owns and operates the Cooper Spur resort on Mount Hood's northeast flank, and Skibowl, also have added summer activities to boost income and stabilize core operations.
"The overall challenge for these companies seems to be for them to remove the seasonality from their businesses," said Paul Swangard, managing director of the Warsaw Sports Marketing Center at the University of Oregon.
Even if the snow comes, operators acknowledge, it could be difficult to overcome the phenomenon that every area feels, usually after spring break in March, when interest in skiing wanes despite often-abundant snow.
Chris Johnston, communications manager at Mt. Bachelor ski area, said many Oregon resorts close after Easter because all but the diehards disappear.
"We always have snow," he said. "In Oregon, our guests are spoiled. If we don't have 140 to 150 inches of snow base, our guests think the conditions can't be good."
|01-22-2005, 11:48 PM||#2|
Ring of Famer
Join Date: Jan 2004
Location: Bigfork, MT
Awww, that sucks, TJ. I was just reading that a lot of the ski areas in the Northwest and Pacific areas are losing massive amounts of their snowpack. I was just up at our mountain today and while the sh*tty warm temps have hurt, there was only one run that was shut down. It was icy in the morning and then turned into slush later. Not too bad though.
I however started the day off with a bang. It's been unseasonably warm here and raining ( damnit ) and that leads to icy mornings. As I went out to start my car this morning to take my kids to their ski lessons, I pulled a Home Alone bad guy, bumpity bump down the stairs and cracked my tailbone. I went up and skied today anyway for the first time in ten years and didn't do anymore damage, but at this point in time, I'm about to go knocking on doors for pain medication.
The East coast is getting the blizzards we need. I find all this weather to be highly depressing.