March endnotes

[Updated Sunday March 29]- Trapp Family Lodge called it a season yesterday, but Bear Notch is seeing things thru to the end. Jackson XC is in the funny place of not really being open, but posting 49k of trails and ‘courtesy grooming’. Osceola is posting weather but not trail conditions.

Basically, no one wants visitors from outside the area, but are more welcoming of locals who just want to get out for a bit.

Rain seems to be happening across much of the northeast today. Snow cover is going… going…

Snow depth northeast US 2020-0329
Snow depth northeast US, March 29

[Updated Friday March 27] See the update

There was enough snow in some parts to go skiing in the southern Adirondacks and even in the Minnewaska area briefly- although with a general ‘shelter-in-place’ order (or PAUSE), only those living in the immediate area could take advantage of it.

These next few quotes are intended to transport your thoughts away from where ever you are, if only for a minute:

Minnewaska and the local area received a few inches of new snow yesterday. It fell as finer flakes first and finished in the evening with a much heavier, sleet-like precipitation. Not as much in the valley, but at the higher elevations it is sufficient for skiing… Minnewaska should be skiable this morning and into early afernoon at least.

Posted Tuesday 3/24 on the Mid Hudson Valley Cross Country Ski Google group

The southern Adirondacks got 9 inches of fluffy powder yesterday, which consolidated overnight to 6 inches of sticky dense snow.  I decided to end my cabin fever by skiing this morning on an old logging road that I discovered by accident.  It hasn’t seen a logging truck since WW2 and it’s little known even to those of us who live in the area. 

Posted Tuesday 3/24 on the AMC-SKI NY/NoJ Google group

Good News Cross Country Skiers. We received 9″ new snow Monday night. Our snow base was still intact before this new snow. Temps rose right after storm so snow became moist. Cool temps set up the snow overnight. Good news because now we can groom it. The result is a very nice machine groomed loose granular- powder mix.

Bear Notch Ski Touring, Glen NH

Cross country skiing across the nation (at a minimum 6′ separation)

From FasterSkier comes this list of open or ‘courtesy groomed’ areas, for those lucky enough to live right by certain trails:

Bear Notch Ski Touring, NH

Methow Trails, WA

Pineland Farms, ME

White Pine, UT

Paul Smiths VIC, NY

Cross Cut, MT

Aspen Snowmass, CO

Great Glen, NH

Nordic Heritage, ME

Jackson Touring, NH

Crested Butte Nordic, CO

Jackson Hole Area, WY

Sun Valley, ID

Tahoe XC, CA

Trapp Family Lodge, VT

Enchanted Forrest Cross Country, NM

Fort Kent, ME

Telluride Nordic Association, CO (projected close date:  April 5 )

FasterSkier, via Cross Country Ski Areas Association

Then there’s the reality:

Due to the order from the Governor of Vermont, the Outdoor Center is closed until further notice. However, we are open for xc skiing and snowshoeing! When conditions allow, we will be courtesy grooming.

Trapp Family Lodge, Stowe VT

30 degrees and at least 1/2 of yesterdays (6″) snow is already melted.  With all that is going on, I have had a chance to get started on ski merchandise inventory.  I should have totals in the next day or so.  If you have ever thought about getting into the ski business, I will have a great offer in the next few days.

Osceola Tug Hill XC Ski, Camden NY

Even if we can’t be out in it, we can take a look at the snow cover will probably be gone in a few more days:

Snow depth with ski centers marked, 2020-0325
Snow depth with ski centers marked, March 25

And what the heck, I even updated the ‘State of the touring centers‘. Stay safe and healthy. Thanks for reading.

And then there were two

Now that we’re under NY State PAUSE (‘shelter-in-place’ by another name), I’m only doing the updates for the data.

Trapp Family Lodge and Bear Notch are hanging tough, despite the weather and the coronavirus. Osceola may yet open its trails if they get the snow they’re expecting.

Craftsbury called out the congregations of skiers and lack of ‘safe distancing’ (six feet) among reasons they’ve closed the trails. I suspect something similar contributed to Jackson XC ceasing to groom or report on trail conditions, even after closing their public facilities last week.

Another factor for rural areas appears to be concern that they might attract people from outside their locality and contribute to transmission. Closer to home it’s related to fears that NYC folks will try to leave the city as well as fears of depleting county resources for its live-in residents. In case you were thinking about holing up at the second home in Sullivan county, an excerpt from this message specifically for us:

 Please DON’T travel here from another county or geographic area (including the five boroughs of New York City) which is experiencing community transmission of COVID-19… Please DON’T have an expectation that resources will be available to you here that are not available to you in your home town.

Sullivan county government, Wednesday, March 18, 2020

As a quickie exercise, using the map in this article on Lohud and population data, Sullivan county has 13 ICU beds for 78,000 people, or a ratio of 1:6000. It’s a rough gauge of the county’s hospital capacity. By comparison, Westchester has 1:6800, and NYC counties collectively have 1414 ICU beds for a ratio of 1:5900. That’s before counting the additional 2000 beds expected by converting the Javits center and the arrival of the hospital ship Hope. With those beds, the NYC ratio becomes 1:3500.

Which is not to say that care is convenient in rural counties that may have only one or two hospitals at most, and fewer doctors or nurses of any kind to draw on in an ongoing crisis.

March 19 Ski conditions + weekend forecast

This post contains section links to More info, Forecast, and Coda.

Summary

Weather and the Covid-19 epidemic have put an early end to the ski season in the northeast. Despite some decent snow cover in the far north country, only a few places remain technically ‘open’, but most of their facilities are closed to the public, and grooming is a courtesy. To paraphrase Jackson Ski Touring Foundation, ‘April skiing rules’ are in effect.

The only ski centers that are still ‘open’ are Trapp Family Lodge and Bear Notch. Jackson is on an ‘honor system’, Great Glen and Crafstbury are doing ‘courtesy grooming’ while not open for operation, and Osceola isn’t charging but may not be grooming either.

More info

With rain on Friday and cold weather on the weekend, the remaining snowpack is going to get thin and icy. No sign of any big snowstorm coming early next week either.

Together and apart, we’re all trying to find a balance between reassurance and anxiety, and it can be a no-win situation as Waterville Valley found. After summarizing efforts the resort made to stay open while limiting the chances of infection transmission, they admitted failure:

Our continuing operations have been met with outcry by many who choose to misrepresent our efforts and have created an environment that has incited people to act irresponsibly to the point of becoming abusive and threatening to our staff. Therefore, regretfully, effective at 4:00pm today, Wednesday, March 18, 2020, Waterville Valley Resort will close for winter operations for the 2019/2020 ski season.

Waterville Valley Resort Covid-19 memo, March 18 2020

With much less angst and in light of the risk of virus transmission posed by group outings, AMC activities have been suspended from March 17 through April 30.

Forecast

If you’re going off on your own or with people you live with, you’ll have to deal with rain on Friday before cold weather comes in for the weekend. On Saturday, daytime temps in the north country will be teens to about 40. Downstate temps in the high 30s to about 50. Sunday will be similar in general.

Daytime temps will gradually trend upward starting Sunday. A front will come in overnight Sunday-Monday, bringing some snow showers that will change over to rain Monday evening as temperatures continue to warm, with moderate chance of rain and some spotty snow showers up north on Tuesday.

Coda

You aren’t here for advice about what to do off the snow, but here it is: if you aren’t somewhat panicky, you don’t appreciate the gravity of the situation and the risk it poses to people around you.

But don’t let uncertainty drive you crazy or allow panic to dictate your shopping list. Unlike the zombie apocalypse that some people dread/hope for, we can’t fight nature with tanks and AR-15s, and it’s not realistic to flee to a bunker till a vaccine is distributed.

To get to the other side with our lives and consciences intact, We’ll need to mobilize government, civic infrastructure and citizen solidarity. You know, the stuff a civilization maintains as standard equipment.

After-season analysis to come over the next few weeks. Thanks for reading.