Thursday, January 23, 2014
BARRE, Vt. (AP) — A series of powerful winter snowstorms has given Vermont the cold shoulder.
The storms have dumped a foot or more of snow on southern New England and the New York City area but have barely covered the ground in Vermont — and people in the snow-loving state can't stand that.
Mild winter weather earlier this month reduced what little snow there was, said Tim Stone, the trailmaster for the Sno-Bees Snowmobile Club in Barre, just southeast of Montpelier, the state capital. A heavy snowfall, he said, would be a welcome change in Vermont, which got no snow on Tuesday while Philadelphia got 14 inches, Manalapan, N.J., got 16 inches and Hanover and Norwell, Mass., were buried by 18 inches.
"We are definitely suffering up here of snow jealousy," Stone said Wednesday.
To be clear, there's bone-chilling cold and there's some snow on the ground in Vermont, whose culture and livelihood thrive on it. And the 52 miles of trails the Sno-Bees are responsible for are open. But there's not enough snow to ride sleds and snowmobiles, Stone said.
"Lack of snow in Vermont affects absolutely everything you can think of from snowplowing to snow grooming to people being able to go out on a Sunday and actually take their cross-country skis," he said.
Mount Mansfield Union High School ninth-grader Jake Pratt, who skis competitively on the Smuggler's Notch Freeski team, said he'd had no snow days this year. Jake, 14, was envious of the kids in southern New England.
"It's probably nice for them because they have snow days," he said, "but it's annoying for us."
The average snowfall at the Burlington International Airport for this point in the winter is 37.5 inches. This year it's at 34.2 inches, but the cold, snowy periods have been followed quickly by thaws and rain.
And it's not just this season. The Sno-Bees' membership has declined in recent years, Stone said.
"People are saying that they're selling their sleds because we're not getting the snow we are used to," he said.
Vermont is an "outlier" this year in terms of snowfall trends compared with the rest of New England, National Weather Service meteorologist Andy Nash said.
While ski resorts can make snow, they also suffer from the season's erratic weather patterns. The Killington ski resort, which offers skiing and snowboarding on 200 trails, said it has gotten about 20 inches of natural snow less than usual and hasn't been able to open a new natural woods area where there's no snowmaking.
"The ups and downs of the temperature have been tough to deal with," Killington spokesman Michael Joseph said.
Natural snow ski area Mad River Glen Cooperative opened again on Wednesday despite shutting down earlier this season due to icy terrain.
"We've been getting those thaws and rains and freeze cycles over the last three weeks," marketing director Eric Friedman said. "It's been torturous."
Mad River Glen and Killington said they hope February and March bring more consistent snowfall, like last year.
Craig Carmody, owner of an outdoor recreation facility in Windsor, in the eastern part of the state, called the conditions this year terrible.
"We've gotten so much rain where I'm located," Carmody said. "A year ago, Massachusetts got hammered. They got so much snow buildings and roofs were collapsing, and we're up here waiting."
Since 2012, Carmody has hosted a winter festival to honor the Nordic god of winter, Ullr, known for skiing and skating.
"I think (Ullr's) really trying, but his navigational compass is off," Carmody said. "I think he was a little too south for us."
Stone, the snowmobile club trailmaster, said he doesn't like that southern New England and metropolitan areas have received the brunt of snowstorms this year. He had a message for Ullr: "Just give us some snow, please. We're begging."