Promising Prospects for US Winter Ski Season

By Mark Leberfinger, Staff Writer
October 25, 2013; 12:10 AM ET
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AP Photo by Brennan Linsley. See larger image below.

Ski opportunities will abound for the upcoming winter of 2013 and 2014 in the United States.

As colder air pours into the U.S., snow-making operations are under way at some ski resorts.

Overall, the ski season should be very good with above-normal snowfall in the Rockies and the Northwest U.S., Long-Range Forecaster Paul Pastelok said.

@jakeaugustine1 tweeted: "To all the people who say they hate winter/snow, try skiing or snowboarding and I promise you will no longer hate winter/snow"

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Three ski resorts are already open in Colorado, thanks to recent heavy snowfall, Tom Horrocks, a spokesman for SnoCountry Ski Areas Association, said.

Areas not shaded on the map above are forecast to receive near-normal snowfall for the winter season. See the Full U.S. Winter Forecast.

"They have seen some cold shots the last couple weeks, so folks out there are very, very excited to get the season going. And I think with the cold finally moving into the upper Midwest and into New England, the ski season isn't far behind," Horrocks said.

It will be a slow start in the East but there won't be a snow drought, Pastelok said.

"Many areas in the East, the central and southern Appalachians, central and southern New England, Pennsylvania and southeast New York will struggle early in the season. November could be a colder month and there can be a storm that produces snow for parts of the Northeast and Ohio Valley, mainly northern areas of the Northeast," Pastelok said.

"But the upper high along the Southeast coast in December may keep the storm track well inland, allowing milder air from the south to keep most of the precipitation in the liquid form."

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Sunday River, Newry, Maine, held its first snow-making test on Oct. 9, where 224 new energy efficient snow guns were purchased this year, spokeswoman Darcy Morse said.

"We're generally ready to test our guns as early as mid-September, so it's always a pleasure to be able to put everything into action in early October," Morse said.

"We always hope [to open] around Halloween, but it comes down to sustained low temperatures and our ability to make snow for a number of hours, if not days, on end."

Skiers will probably have to bundle up on the slopes of the northern mountains of Vermont and New York, and also in the northern and central Rockies, Pastelok said.

"Snow-making should be good in mid- to late November for the Northeast and anytime in the northern and central Rockies," Pastelok said.

December could be a little rough with some mild spells in the central Appalachians, perhaps not as strong in northern New England, he said.

"Colder weather will return later in January and February, and the season could be extended a bit into March for the Northeast," Pastelok said.

It's always very optimistic this time of year," Horrocks said.

"I think people take a look at the long-range forecast and say, 'It's going to be a great season.' Optimism is one of the things that continues to drive the ski industry," he said.

A skier hikes up to the top of the Continental Divide, elevation 11,990 feet, a day after fresh snow covered the mountain peaks around Loveland Pass, Colo., Saturday, Oct. 5, 2013. (AP Photo/Brennan Linsley)


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