A couple of months ago the revival of the once popular “guess the exact date when the snow depth at Mt. Bachelor’s West Village reaches 100 inches” created some interest. But as noted then, reaching the 100 mark isn’t as easy as it used to be. Back when the 100-inch contest was a big deal on local radio in small town Bend, the mark was invariably reached in late November or sometime during December.
By comparison, these days hitting 100 inches would be a miracle in late November or December unless you buy into the old ski area (they all do it) ploy of citing the total amount of snow that’s fallen in a year and then in smaller type listing what’s actually on the ground, i.e. the current snow depth.
The majority of people entering the revived 100-inch contest and the chance to win a six of their favorite local brew, picked a day in January. A few picked days in December and only two entrants selected a day in February. Nobody opted to pick a day in March or April which, from my personal backcountry skiing experience of the past several years, has proven to be the best snow months of the year.
As to the two remaining 100-inch contestants, one has selected February 10 as the day and the other, a local, but apparently sentimental, curmudgeon of note has picked Valentine’s Day.
Which brings up the question of what’s making for the low snow year. El Nino say the climatologists as they point to the way storms are tracking across the west this winter. While Arizona and New Mexico ski resorts are covered with almost too much snow, resorts in Colorado and Utah are, like most Oregon resorts, operating on thin snow cover.
And once past mid-February, chances for warmer and longer days can mean devastation to thin cover.
Next year, it’ll probably be a La Nina year and we’ll shovel snow in town for months on end. Or perhaps we’ll break out the deck chairs, barbeque and sun block starting in February.
In the meantime, thanks to all the people who entered the 100-inch contest. May your December or early January dates be right on target next year.
And by the way, if you’re interested in the how ski areas tend to fudge on how they report how much new snow has fallen, go to www.msnbc.msn.com.id.35146100/ns/trend-active/ to read about a recent study by two Dartmouth College professors who say 23 percent of all ski area over-report new snowfall. The story goes on to say that a new iPhone app (www.skireport.com) allows skiers to feed in up-to-the minute “real” information of how much has fallen at a given resort.