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Winter Tourism And Sports Activities Ramp Up After Early Season Snow

Some areas, including Plattsburgh NY, received up to 8 inches of snow in a Veteran's Day storm
Pat Bradley/WAMC
Some areas, including Plattsburgh NY, received up to 8 inches of snow in a Veteran's Day storm

Thanksgiving is still more than two weeks away, but chairlifts are operating after the early season snow this week brought over 8 inches to some areas of the Northeast. That’s good news for some winter sports enthusiasts. But as WAMC North Country Bureau Chief Pat Bradley reports, not everyone can take advantage of the new powder.
Killington in Vermont opened November 3rd albeit with minimal trails.  It’s not really unusual for that ski resort since its annual goal is to be the first to open and the last to close in the Northeast.  Most other resorts target their opening closer to Thanksgiving.  But Ski Vermont spokesman Adam White says the mid-November blast of snow this week is accelerating some plans.  “We’ve already seen this happen. I’ll give you an example.  Mount Snow Resort was originally planning to open on Friday November 15th and they were able to move their opening date up two days because of a combination of two factors: number one the natural snow from this snow storm but also the temperatures have dipped right into the wheelhouse for their snow makers. They’ve been sustained cold temperatures around the clock and so they’ve been able to really maximize their snow making and to supplement the natural snowfall. And so they are planning to open with top to bottom skiing and riding which is the best possible start that they could have for the season.”

Some of the downhill areas  are sticking with their original opening plans.  Okemo will open on November 22 despite new snowpack. Northeast Communications Manager for both Okemo and Mount Sunapee Bonnie McPherson calls this storm a “marketing snow.”  “The thing is  about opening early is that it turns into a little bit of a scramble. When you have a date set and it’s something that you can work toward and you ramp up and you plan accordingly. And we’ve opened earlier than planned in the past. We just really wanted to just take our time and make sure that when we opened we had a lot to offer at a really good value. Last year we opened with three top to bottom runs on opening day. And we’re hoping to be able to provide that same kind of experience again this year.”

The Lake Placid Snowmobile Club’s Facebook page posted a notice following the snowstorm: “8 inches of new snow 15 degrees. There is no riding until December!!!!”  Club President Jim McCulley explains.  “We got about 8 inches of snow. It’s nice to see and beautiful but unfortunately we can’t use it yet for snowmobiling. This time of year we have to wait until the end of deer hunting season which I believe is the first weekend in December. It’ll end and then that following Monday snowmobile season will begin. What people need to understand about the hunting season is is a lot of our trail systems go through hunting clubs and such and these guys are out hunting. It’s their turn to be in the woods. It’s a real fairness thing and they deserve to be snowmobile free in the woods during their season.”

Saranac Lake Area Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Patrick Murphy says the early storm provides opportunities to promote winter tourism.  “This is a good way for us to be able to market the area and to demonstrate that if you’re interested in having outdoor activities during the winter season we’re a perfect place for you to come and have a home base of operation in the downtown area, enjoy some night life and then be able to during the day go out and enjoy those outdoor winter activities. There’s a variety of hiking and snowshoeing options. There is tubing here in the village of Saranac Lake. There’s museums and there’s kind of a well rounded balance of different types of activities that folks can do both indoor and outdoor.”

The National Weather Service reports much of the northern tier received between 4 and 8 ½ inches of snow.