Ski resorts across the Northeast prepared Tuesday for a busy and lucrative ski weekend as this year's first major winter storm dumped several inches of snow on the East Coast’s popular ski areas. Resorts in Connecticut, New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania, many of which had relied almost entirely on artificial snowmaking to keep their slopes up and running this season, were luring skiers and snowboarders with the promise of natural powder. And despite the less-than-historic snowfall, ski resorts anticipated swelling crowds toward the week’s end.
For many resorts, the public’s high expectations for the blizzard, dubbed Winter Storm Juno, served as free advertising. Many received an influx of phone calls and comments on social media from skiers and boarders curious about snow conditions after the storm. “It’s kind of like having Mother Nature on the payroll,” said Dru Brooks, director of marketing for Camelback Ski Resort in Tannersville, Pennsylvania. “On days that we have storms or it's in the news as much as it is, we definitely see an uptick [in attendance] over the following weekend.”
Many resorts took to their websites and social media accounts in the wake of the storm to tout fresh powder and drum up interest in their slopes. At the same time, the anticipation of record-breaking snowfall and dangerous road conditions kept many skiers and snowboarders who may have been out of work or school on Tuesday away from the slopes, at least in the short-term.
“Natural snow always gets the consumers charged up,” but that enthusiasm doesn’t immediately translate into more people on the slopes, said Jim Costello, senior director of marketing for Mountain Creek Resort in Vernon Township, New Jersey. The mountain got between 4 to 6 inches of snow from this week’s blizzard. “About 24 to 48 hours after a storm we start seeing business roll through,” Costello said. Snowfall during the week has often meant a 20 to 25 percent increase in ski traffic on their slopes, he noted. “If I could pull a snowstorm out of my back pocket every Wednesday, I’d be in good shape.”
The first flakes of what some meteorologists predicted would be a historic winter storm fell Monday morning. City officials in major metropolitan areas from New Jersey to Massachusetts closed roads to all non-emergency vehicles, canceled classes and shuttered public transportation systems. New York City’s round-the-clock subway system shut down for 10 hours beginning Monday night because of the snowstorm -- the first such action in the system’s history.
Many wondered whether state officials like New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie overreacted with forced road closures and emergency declarations. The states, however, defended their decisions. "I would rather … lean toward safety because I have seen the consequences the other way and it gets very frightening very quickly,” Cuomo told reporters Tuesday. “We have had people die in storms … I would rather be in a situation where we say, 'We got lucky.'"
Tuesday morning snow totals in Philadelphia measured just a few inches, and New York City saw about 7 inches of snow, despite expectations of more than 2 feet. Boston, too, came up short with about 8 inches, according to the National Weather Service. Other areas did see heavy snowfall, including 24 inches in Mattituck, New York, and 17 inches in Plymouth, Massachusetts.
For some resorts, new snow has often meant a different kind of clientele – one with more experience and higher expectations. “We have more seasoned skiers and boarders come out during heavier snowfalls and fewer beginners and first-timers,” said Randy Holden, communications manager at Windham Mountain Resort in Windham, New York. He said novice skiers and boarders who may not be used to riding, let alone driving, in heavier snow conditions have sometimes found it overwhelming.
Below are five ski resorts to visit this week following the storm:
Windham Mountain Resort, Windham, New York. Located two hours from New York City and less than an hour from Albany. Ticket pricesfor a one-day adult lift tickets are $68 during the week and $78 on weekends.
Mountain Creek, Vernon Township, New Jersey. Located about 50 miles from New York City. Lift ticket prices between $43 for kids and seniors and $67 for adults.
Camelback Ski Resort, Tannersville, Pennsylvania. One-day weekend lift tickets range from $43 to $65.
Mount Peter Ski Area, Warwick, New York. Full-day weekend lift tickets from $38 to $45.
Shawnee Mountain, East Stroudsburg, Pennsylvania. Weekend tickets between $45 and $60; children under 46 inches tall ride for free with an adult.