The East Coast snow season was a drag: Maybe spring will make up for it?

Spring Fling has been cancelled at Jiminy Peak. The annual ski costume party/pond-skim/box derby had to be 86’d this Saturday because there’s more pond than ski in the Berkshires right now.

While this El Nino winter has been fantastic for snow out West - not to mention surf in Hawaii, California and the East Coast - it was a drag for hills in the Mid Atlantic and Northeast. It wasn’t a particularly cold winter, but more important, there just wasn’t much of the white stuff from New England through the Appalachians.

Last winter, Boston had nearly 110 inches of snow. Piles of plowed accumulation didn’t fully melt until July, so that’s not exactly a standard benchmark. But this year’s totals still fall well under the average of 43 inches. An article by GrindTV from earlier this month explained how the state of New York was on track for its worst ski season ever with only about 21 inches recorded. Recent deluges certainly didn’t help.

Snow season in the northeast fell on its face. But it could mean a fun spring for other pursuits. Photo: Courtesy of Stratton Mountain

Snow season in the northeast fell on its face. But it could mean a fun spring for other pursuits. Photo: Courtesy of Stratton Mountain

“We’re going to ski the shit out of the snow we have left and enjoy it for all it’s worth,” says JJ Toland, the very frank communications director at Jay Peak. “We’re not out of the fight just yet. There’s a potential storm system around the vernal equinox that could have us skiing and riding well into the spring. But I’m already seeing the mountain bikes coming out.

Last year, we had Widespread Panic scheduled to play a show at our Stateside Amphitheater on June 20 - and we had our own spreading panic that it would still be under 12 feet of snow the day of the concert. We’ve got a good line up of shows this summer and we’re not sweating it.”

Toland admits that this year’s beach party on April 2 could end up being being an actual beach party. Traditionally, Jay Peak sets up volleyball nets on the snow. This year, they may have to truck in sand.

Jay Peak, Vermont, has enjoyed some prime May conditions. Problem is, it's still March. Photo: Jay Peak.

Jay Peak, Vermont, has enjoyed some prime May conditions. Problem is, it’s still March. Photo: Courtesy of Jay Peak

For areas that aren’t almost Canada, the season’s end is near. Many resorts were closed Monday through Thursday this week. But while winter 2016 was dismal for skiing and snowboarding, East Coast enthusiasts can start looking at the bright side - the really bright side of a sunny, warm spring.

NOAA’s long range forecast calls for a warmer than average late April and March for the entire northern half of the country, including the Carolinas through Nova Scotia. While this will surely be the death knell for late season turns in even the most sacred of backwood, it means that biking, kayaking, angling, hiking, trail running, camping, music festivals and any other outdoor pursuits could be pretty pleasant this spring. Jay Peak has a full lineup of concerts scheduled for summer. Jiminy gets lifts running for mountain bikes to access the entire mountain. There are also plenty of deals on early season passes for next winter.

NOAA's long term forecasts call for a warmer-than-average late winter and spring. Image: NOAA

NOAA’s long term forecasts call for a warmer than average late winter and spring. Photo: Courtesy of NOAA

The fact that winter was so short also has had another effect on the East Coast. The ocean temps off of Long Island are already in the mid-40s, which is above average. Recreationally speaking, there is a huge difference between 40 and 50 degree water heading into April. This doesn’t only mean that sea-based activities like SUP and striped bass fishing will get an earlier start, but it also means that coastal areas won’t have that utterly freezing effect into May. The surf won’t necessarily be affected by the water temps, but taking off the gloves and hood will surely be welcomed.

Outdoor folks can’t control Mother Nature, especially not with a rapidly changing climate and a record El Nino. But, we can make the best of it.

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