No Snow in the Poconos
MELISSA BLOCK, host:
The Martin Luther King Day weekend is a big one for the ski industry. Pacific storms have dumped tons of snow in the West, bringing skiers to resorts by the SUV full. But for East Coast skiers, the season has not been so good. The first two weeks of the new year brought a small heat wave and left many mountains with melting snow. NPR's Robert Smith sent this postcard from Pennsylvania's Poconos.
ROBERT SMITH reporting:
You've got to admire the hearty East Coast skier. Saturday, on the slopes of Jack Frost Ski Resort, started out with driving rain, wind gusts and 50-degree temperatures. Sandy Harroks(ph) from Philadelphia waded back through the mud puddles of the parking lot with a ski report.
Ms. SANDY HARROKS: It stank. It was awful. It was yucky.
SMITH: Even by East Coast standards.
Ms. HARROKS: By East Coast standards, a rainy, icy ski day stinks.
SMITH: And then it got worse. As Jordan Lynch(ph) gets off the lift, ice chunks started to fall from the sky.
Mr. JORDAN LYNCH (Skier): It was raining and then it was nice with a lot of rain and now it's this hail mix snow.
SMITH: Why do you do this on a day like today?
Mr. LYNCH: We had free passes. It was today only.
Mr. MICHAEL CLOEREN (Manager, Jack Frost Ski Resort): Anybody can ski at 35 degrees and sunny.
SMITH: Michael Cloeren is the manager at Jack Frost Resort. He says despite the warm January temperatures, they've managed to keep the runs open with all the artificial snow they made in December. And the good news about the hail is that it means the temperature is dropping and they could finally make snow again.
Mr. CLOEREN: So you're going to see an aggressive assault of snow-making tonight.
SMITH: With all the science of snow-making, do you still pray for snow, the real stuff?
Mr. CLOEREN: You know, in the East, you never know what weather you're going to get anymore. Natural snow helps, but if it comes, it's just an added bonus for us.
SMITH: Cloeren says skiing on the East Coast, especially on a day like Saturday, builds character. Sandy Harrocks, her ski clothes soaked, has a slightly different take.
Ms. HARROCKS: I think we already have the character or we wouldn't be here.
SMITH: When you're out there, I mean, do you dream of being in Colorado in knee-deep powder?
Ms. HARROCKS: I've never been in Colorado, so, see, I don't know what I'm missing. If you'd ever want to move onto the good stuff, of you'll never go back.
SMITH: Despite the weather, Harrocks was planning to be out on the slopes again this holiday weekend. She'll be bringing her snowboarding grandkids and they don't care what they slide down. Robert Smith, NPR News, in the Poconos of Pennsylvania.