Bummed-Out Ski Bums: Cheer Up!
Skiers and boarders across the U.S. haven’t given up on this winter’s snowfall, but they don’t have high hopes either. In Squaw Valley, which is in California's Lake Tahoe area, it’s the driest winter since 1879.
“We're all waiting for Mother Nature to lend us a hand,” said Amelia Richmond, a Squaw Valley spokesperson.
In the second week of January, national snow analysis reported that only 23% of the lower 48 states was covered with snow, a number well below average. Ski areas have opened up across North America, but quite a few have dismal base depths and limited terrain openings. The resorts reporting the most depth and recent snowfall are those in British Columbia, Washington, Wyoming and Montana — typical for a La Niña year.
According to the NOAA, La Niña and El Niño are naturally occurring climate cycles that refer to the interactions of the ocean's surface and the tropical Pacific's atmosphere. In the U.S., a classic La Niña spell includes drier than normal winters in the Southwest and Southeast and colder, wetter winters in the Northwest.
Bummed-out ski bums make the absence of snow more obvious, but there are plenty of folks still getting in their turns on what snow-covered slopes there are.
"It's really what you make of it," Richmond said. "If you go out there with a good attitude, you're going to have a great day."
As dire as the times may seem right now, weather forecasts across the West next week actually include cold temperatures and lots of snow. The National Weather Service’s Climate Prediction Center has also stated oceanic and atmospheric patterns reflect “a weak to moderate La Niña" that will peak early in the season.
"It's definitely one of the more dry winters," Richmond said. "But it's not the end of winter. Three quarters of the season is still ahead of us."
So hold off on sacrificially setting fire to your skis. You may need them soon.
--Lauren Pope / image: iStock/alohaspirit