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East Ski Resorts Hopeful for Winter's Return After January Thaw

By Jillian MacMath, AccuWeather.com Staff Writer
January 18, 2014; 4:25 AM ET

Though December brought some ideal weather to ski resorts in the East, mid-January has left many with more to be desired from the winter season.

The retreat of the polar vortex, a pocket of cold air that swept in from the North Pole, brought an unexpected thaw to the region in January, increasing snowmelt and providing less-than-ideal snowmaking conditions.

The rest of the month brings promise, however, as wintry conditions are on the way to the Northeast.

"Resorts should be very excited. There's going to be multiple opportunities for snow in the East, beginning next week through early February," AccuWeather.com Meteorologist Bernie Rayno said.

"They will be able to recover, at least from a snow perspective. Even if they miss out on the natural snow, it's going to be cold enough to make it."

Most resorts are hopeful about a recovery, despite low numbers through the first two weeks of January.

"To date, our skier visit numbers are a bit below expectations, and I would attribute that to January's less-than-favorable weather, but we still have a long season ahead of us to make up for this," Thomas Prindle, director of marketing for Attitash and Wildcat Mountain said.

"Now with an extended forecast that looks like winter is returning, we will be continuing to make snow at every opportunity and at full capacity."

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With Martin Luther King Jr. Day on Monday, the long weekend is expected to draw more winter enthusiasts to the slopes than usual.

"With an inch of new snow this morning at both Attitash and Wildcat, and more expected in the forecast this weekend, conditions are very good."

Though wintry weather is on the horizon for the East, parts of the West are facing the worst forecast for winter sports enthusiasts in years.

In California, few resorts have seen significant precipitation this winter. Currently, more than 89 percent of the state is experiencing severe to extreme drought conditions.

Heavenly Resort in Lake Tahoe had only 20 of 97 trails open as of Friday morning.

Mammoth Mountain, located farther south of Tahoe, reports it has only received 18 percent of the total snowfall it had last year at this time.

"What's forecast for the East is the polar opposite of what the West can expect," Rayno said. "They will get very little, if any, precipitation through early February. The snow drought is going to get far worse for them."

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