When it comes to getting a sense of how much snow was lost last weekend to warm temperatures, high winds and rain, you could take look at the green grass all over Stowe.
Or you could check out Twitter.
Stowe Mountain Alerts — the account used by Stowe Mountain Resort to keep people up to date on parking lot capacity, wind holds on chairlifts and opening and closing trails — listed 98 trails as open last Friday. By Monday, that number was cut in half, and then some: 42 trails open.
The snow stake at the top of Mount Mansfield, which offers an indication of the overall snowpack, had finally nudged past 30 inches last week, but was down to 18 as of Tuesday.
Any way you measured it, this week was about half as good as last week.
Jeff Wise, senior manager of communications at Stowe Mountain Resort, said Wednesday that it takes the snowmaking crews less than 48 hours to resurface most of the trails.
“We’ve got great snowmaking temps rolling in with natural snow tomorrow,” he said. “So, we feel good about it going into the holiday weekend.”
Martin Luther King Jr. weekend is historically one of the busiest times at Vermont ski resorts.
The weekly Ski Bum Races hosted by the Mount Mansfield Ski Club & Academy were canceled for this past Tuesday because so much snow was lost and the resort needed to get snowmaking operations working to “ensure good coverage for the rest of the season,” read an alert from the club.
Chatter on social media was a mix of grumbling and parsing climate data to determine how much hope one could glean from National Weather Service forecasts. Would it be 10 inches? Would it be more in the 4-to-8-inch range? You, reading this, know better now because there’s no more accurate weather forecast than what’s happening right now.
Photos from a lift rider passing over the Upper Exhibition trail at Smugglers’ Notch Resort showed a Rorschach Test of white among brown; your outlook depends on how you look at it.
“The good news is that it is snowing right now. And it is sticking!” said the picture-taker on a popular skiing and riding Facebook page. A follow-up post said it “turned from brown to white in about 30 minutes.”
That’s the thing about dedicated skiers and riders — for them, it’s not about the what-ifs and the did-nots. It’s about what they did that day, and if the conditions are hard and crunchy and only half there, it’s still better than nothing. And it’s still better than 2016.
“We've at least had snow cover and a couple of decent stretches since early season,” wrote one person on the ski and ride page. He added later, “Obviously a one-day snapshot of the stake depth can’t be used to quantify the entire winter to date.”
At least the ski resorts have snowmaking to start building up the base again. When it comes to snowmobilers, all they can do is hope for it to come from the sky.
“Last Saturday was depressing for all of us,” said Andrea Beeman with Snowmobile Vermont in Stowe Wednesday.
Beeman said her crew members are keeping their fingers crossed that the 10-inch maximum forecast might come true. The guides were up in the woods Wednesday working on the trails, some of which were “down to dirt in some places.”
“Even if we only get 6 inches, we hope to open our trails up Thursday (today),” Beeman said.