President’s day weekend

Hi, old man sister winter- we remember you!

Elsa and snowflake
Bring the magic, Elsa!

[Feb. 14]: Mohonk was reported as very skiable today, so it’s likely Minnewaska is doing alright too. At Minnewaska Park, Antelope4455 reports their groomers had to break up lots of ice, so “Upper/Castle loop and Lake Minnewaska may be all that gets groomed”. The wise will call on Saturday before heading up.

Notchview, Prospect Mountain, and Lapland Lake each got some snow over the past two days, but there is a bit of crust at Notchview. Conditions are hard pack at places within easy daytrip distance.

Precipitation on Friday will fall as rain from the Shawangunks south, and alternating rain/snow to the north past Albany and southern VT. The good news is there is less rain forecast than expected a few days ago. Higher altitudes in the Adirondacks and White Mountains could get snow exclusively.

If we’re lucky there won’t be much damage to the snowpack from the rain, as temps go back down below freezing for the weekend and all the way to midweek for the first half of the school break. On Saturday a bit of lake effect snow will hit Rochester and Tug Hill plateau, but that’s it for snow during the weekend.

Eager skiers can brave the variable conditions on Saturday morning, while the more cautious might wait till after trail crews have a chance to go over it. However, as long as ski areas have base to groom, the skiing should be good for President’s day weekend. If you’re heading far north for a snow sports vacation, looks like you’re in luck!

Ice underneath any new snow will likely make off-trail skiing in the woods a pretty mixed bag. Stay careful and in control.

Middle of next week, we could see some snow showers. Unfortunately the downstate and Hudson Highlands region isn’t going to get enough to help. Daytime temperatures will inch above freezing for much of the northeastern US starting Thursday.

No updates for snow depth map or state of the touring centers till Saturday, when we know what we’ve got.

The tease

You know the first part of the story already: snow arriving Tuesday! Yay! Parts of the North Country could see up to 13″ by the end of Wednesday. The downstate region could receive 5″ of new snow. Shawangunks might get 7″.

But (and you probably know there was a ‘but’ coming)- daytime temps will go into the upper 40s through most of the Northeast US from Wednesday on. Much of the snow will likely turn into sleet and freezing rain in spots below Albany overnight Tuesday and into Wednesday morning:

Weather forecast map for February 12

Even if we get lucky and cooler air pushes the snow line southward, there’s another storm that will probably mean rain on Friday into Saturday, all the way up past North River (Garnet Hill). Prospect Mountain might also get some rain or freezing rain.

Which makes the early week prospects for the weekend droop like Eeyore’s ears:

To accentuate the positive (and show what can be done with what snow you get), check out this short video from Shawangunk Nordic Ski Association on Feb. 8 (Facebook public post). Nice work by Minnewaska, grooming the trail on Saturday.

And a screengrab from the Prospect Mountain live webcam as of today sure looks nice:

Screenshot from Prospect Mountain webcam Feb. 11, 11am
Prospect Mountain Feb. 11 2019 11am

Finally, reviewing the snow depth map and ski area conditions indicates the grooming crew at many areas have been busy with tillers and other equipment to break up the ice into a granular surface. Several northern ski areas report conditions are ‘fast and firm’. Everyone will feel better with some freshening of the base.

If you’d rather make your own trails, it sounds like conditions in woods and backcountry will be distant and the skiing dubious- until Wednesday, when there could be a significant layer of snow on top. Lucky folks who can take off today or tomorrow might head to Prospect Mountain or Lapland Lake. Off-piste skiers might like Thursday best.

As usual, hit the link ‘State of the touring centers’ up top to get the conditions as of Monday Feb. 11.

Snow depth Feb 11 2019
Snow depth Feb 11 2019

Reefs under stress

How does this: In Northern Minnesota, ‘Snow Farmers’ Make Sure A Ski-Racing Tradition Endures

Volunteer Don Olson walks past a mound of artificial snow created by a snow gun on Tuesday at the Vasaloppet Nordic Ski Center in Mora, Minn. Christine T. Nguyen /MPR News

Relate to this:

  • Both involve water within a particular range of temperature and environmental conditions;
  • The places evolve, survive/thrive through mutual adaptation of the inhabitants’ motivations and capabilities;
  • The inhabitants of each have had to respond to changes in their environments due to global warming;
  • And both are the kinds of places where individuals can find each other.

The questions that come to mind in relation to cross-country skiing are around the increasing efforts required to sustain commitment to the sport. For instance what, if anything, would replace the Vasaloppet in this Minnesota town, should the commitment wane? Would there be a critical loss to the social fabric if the specific blend of skills, land, and community interest featured in the story were made irrelevant?

I happen to think there’s something very special about cross-country skiing. Part of it is because it takes place in the outdoors, and takes advantage of an undervalued time of year. If you’re a farmer, you’re tied to the land, so you might as well have some fun in winter. For sub/urbanites, it’s a way to acknowledge and enjoy the fact that nature is what it is. For the 98% of Americans who aren’t involved in farming, we can choose to be part of the seasons.

Every cross-country ski area is like a reef, with its own particular community of participants. From business owners to the trail crew, park administrators and land owners to coaches and instructors, there has to be a sufficiency of each type. Moreover there has to be a sense of willingness in order to make it a place for skiers to come to- and come back to with the little fishes skiers.

Like coral reefs, winter seems to show nature at its most vulnerable, its most precious and precarious side. The stressors are easier to mark and make note of in the conditions needed for reefs and cross-country skiing alike.