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  Comments (0) Total Wednesday Apr. 23, 2014
 
Bad Weather
Lurching from one near disaster to another ...
In 1947 I made the unconscious decision to spend my winters anywhere there was enough snow to turn those weird things attached to my two feet. During that time I have seen all kinds of unusual weather conditions. I watched four feet of snow fall on Big Sky, Mont., the last week of June.

I almost got caught in a blizzard that dumped 24 feet of snow in 24 hours only 47 miles from the Los Angeles City Hall. It happened on Mount Waterman in 1943 and fortunately I had five other skiers to help me push the car out of a half-dozen snow banks before we got low enough on the mountain where the snow turned to rain.

Mammoth Mountain, in 1953, had so much snow in one storm that it lost a big tour bus for three days. Bulldozers were driving around in the deep snow on the roof of the bus until one of them discovered it.

When I was teaching at Squaw Valley in 1950 we had a colossal dump of snow that amounted to seven or eight feet overnight. When someone tried to start up the chairlift the engine ran but the cable would not move. Six of us put sealskins on and climbed up the mountain to discover that a massive slide had wiped out one of the towers.

My first experience with weird snow might have been a game changer for me. Two inches of it fell on the beach at Topanga Canyon when I lived there in 1929. When I saw it for the first time my mother explained to me what it was. I just knew it was very, very cold on my bare feet so I walked down to the ocean wading in the creek.

Some scientists are blaming the up and down weather during the winter of 2011-12 on solar flares. There are probably as many theories about the cause of the erratic temperatures as there are people who wonder what has caused it. The jet stream went as far south as Southern California before heading east this winter. When it went racing across Arizona, New Mexico and Texas it started to suck up the warm air from Mexico and the Gulf of Mexico. When that warm air met the cold air in the Midwest this caused a lot of tornadoes in the Midwest.

While all of this was happening, the Colorado Rockies suffered from a definite lack of snow. I have a good friend who has lived in Vail for almost 50 years and he reports it was the worst winter ever. He usually skis a minimum of 100 days every winter but this year it was hard for him to get in half that. The snow is so sparse that the Vail EPIC Pass, which is a season pass for all of Vail Associates resorts, was suspended after the first week of April.

One of the things that I learned early in my ski life was that it certainly did no good to complain about the weather or the snow conditions. On December 29, 1948, it dropped almost an inch of warm tropical rain on the roof of our trailer in the Sun Valley parking lot. Once the rain stopped it never got above zero for the next month. Baldy was so icy that we all rode down on the Canyon and River Run lift every day. Write upon your complaints and put them in a self-addressed stamped envelope and mail them to whomever you think can change the weather. When you figure out who that is, we can all send them some token of our appreciation!

Before you send that letter however think about this: What would you be doing in the winter if no one had ever invented skis or a snowboard?
 
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