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Sunny Nordic cruisin' followed by bone-chilling temperatures early this week

Posted Monday, January 10, 2022
— Alpine / downhill skiing, Backcountry skiing, Cross-country skiing, Bolton Valley, Burke, Middlebury Snow Bowl, Smugglers' Notch
Screenshot of temperature chart showing below-zero temps

Screenshot of Monday and Tuesday temperatures for about 2,200 feet elevation in Bolton, Vermont.

Photo of ski poles, backpack and Nordic ski tracks in the bright sun

Saturday's country club cruisin' with just a bit of fresh snow.

Did you get out to enjoy the sun and snow this weekend? I did some mellow country club gliding in central/northern Vermont on Saturday. It was chilly (Nordic skiing is great for cold days!), and the coverage was quite thin, but the sun felt so good!

After some weird mixed precipitation on Sunday, if you look at the National Weather Service forecast, you'll see the temperatures are in a steady decline. Tuesday's high will be around zero in many places in northern Vermont. That's the high, folks, and it doesn't include windchill.

I wonder how much snowmaking goes on at that temperature? And how really cold temperatures affect the quality of the snow that's made? Hmmm. [UPDATE: I asked some snowmaking questions and got answers from the snowmakers at Middlebury Snow Bowl. (Thanks, guys!) Read below!]

Burke Mountain has announced it will not run lifts on Tuesday, January 11, to keep people safe from frostbite. Smugglers' Notch will have reduced lift offerings. Other ski areas may follow. On the coldest days of winter, be sure to check the snow report at the ski area you are heading to.

Did you hear about Bolton Valley shifting some of its midweek operating hours this week? With the Covid spike, they knew that they will have more workers out sick. So they are trying to just staff one shift this Tuesday through Thursday, with skiing offered from 1 to 10 p.m. This covers their busiest time on those weekdays. Sounds like a smart idea. Remember to mask up everyone, and get those shots!

Check out our Vermont snow reports page to keep up-to-date on your favorite ski areas, whether they are downhill or cross-country.

Snowmaking Q&A with Snowmakers at Middlebury Snow Bowl

Q: How much snowmaking goes on at below-zero temperatures?

A: We will make snow below zero if the temps are dropping into that range. Generally we do not try to start our system at those temps.

Q: How do really cold temperatures affect the quality of the snow that's made? 

A: Great snow — full conversion from water to crystals — at those temps.

Q: Does your team do anything special while making snow at these temps?

A: Continually make sure there is sufficient end-of-line flow to insure the water pipe is not freezing.

Q: What's the best temperature to get the best snowmaking bang for your buck?

A: Low teens to high single digits is excellent.

Well, there you have it from the pros!

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