Snow, Sixty Degrees, & Tornadoes!?
Oh man, what a wild week of weather here in the Midwest. Last week we started strong with some great snowmaking temperatures across the Midwest. Then, areas of Minnesota and Wisconsin were hit with a massive snowstorm bringing with it upwards to twenty inches of fresh pow.
I got "trapped" at Buck Hill Friday night, which was okay with me because the entire night was filled with free refills as they got over 17 inches of snow. So ya, it was a good night.
Other resorts that got some love from the powder gods were Welch Village with just over a foot, Granite Peak with about ten inches, and Trollhaugen with about seven inches of fresh flake.
All this good news and weather got skiers and riders feeling slightly invincible, but that soon changed.
Some Crazy Midwest Weather
That's because temps skyrocketed to over sixty degrees in most parts of the Midwest on Wednesday. Then we got thunderstorms coupled with tornado-like winds, which is not ideal for running a ski area. Even more interesting was how quickly the temperatures then dropped back to below freezing, which is excellent for creating on-road ice rinks.
But really, this weather can cause many issues with snow conditions and grooming. A quick thaw freeze cycle is tough for ski resorts and groomers to manage and takes a ton of effort to get this snow back to an acceptable skiing level.
Luckily, we will have some opportunities to make some snow over the next few days, so I'm confident resorts will mix that to help get conditions back up to normal for the upcoming weekend and holiday week.
Little Switzerland Expansion Plan
This week Little Switzerland announced its five-year master plan, including several additions and expansions. This plan consists of a complete overhaul of the parking lot, a new ski run, lodging, maintenance shop, and much more.
Although these improvements are slated to be completed over the next five years, it is excellent to see ski resorts thinking ahead and reinvesting heavily in their hills. When I was there last week for our thank a snowmaker tour - I was able to check out their brand new mini-park rope tow, and I have to say it is the perfect addition to their area.
Keep up the great work, and we'll be sure to keep all of you updated as these improvements are being made.
Boyne Highlands is Now The Highlands at Harbor Springs
And while on the subject of improvements, Boyne Highlands made a major announcement last week, changing their name to The Highlands at Harbor Springs. The name change is part of their 2030 Transformational Journey, which will include several upgrades and improvements… and before you ask, yes, this will consist of new lifts and snowmaking, although no official plans have been announced for those elements just yet.
The new name was chosen to help give the resort an individualized identity from Boyne Mountain. Once again - it's great to see Midwestern resorts reinvesting in their hills, and we are excited to see what the future holds for the Highlands. We will keep you updated as more information becomes available.
Mt. LaCrosse Hosts Marines For Opening Weekend
Mt. LaCrosse had some very special visitors for their opening weekend this past week. US Marines from the 3rd Battalion, 6th Marine Regiment, or The Hellhounds took a break from training at Fort McCoy to come up and enjoy the snow. Always great to see camo on the slopes, and thanks to all of those that serve our country.
Giants Ridge Makes Operational Changes Due to Staffing
Giants Ridge has announced some Operational changes due to staffing for the next couple of weeks. As a result, they will be reducing their hours and be closed the following Monday and Tuesday. Unfortunately, this is all too common among the industry - reduced hours, no bar/food service, and fewer lifts are some things you will see this season due to the labor shortage. This said, if you know anyone looking for work, please be sure to send them to your local hill, and as consumers, please be mindful that all resorts are doing the best they can to work through this challenge. We wish all resorts the best as they continue to seek help to keep our lifts spinning this season!
We Are Entering the Holiday Break
And on that same note, I want to wrap up with a reminder that we are starting the Christmas and New Years' holiday break next week. For those unaware, the next couple of weeks are the busiest time for ski resorts across the country as almost everyone is off of school and work. So please be patient, understanding, and cooperative as ski areas work through this challenging holiday season.
Go to resorts expecting lines, and limited service, and terrain. If there isn't, well, that's a huge plus - but understand that while we are all off work enjoying time with our loved ones - those in the ski industry are clocking massive overtime to allow us to be on the slopes. So please say thank you, tip well, and don't be "that guy" on social media.
To all those working in the ski industry, I want to thank you. We appreciate all you do to keep us on snow throughout the season!
But there you have it, your fix of Midwest ski news from the past week. If you want to check out last week's episode, we will drop it below. But until next time, we hope all of you have a great week, pray for snow, and we'll see you guys out there!