Winter has hit the Northeast in memorable style, with early storms in October raising hopes, then a sustained spell of perfect snowmaking weather settling in across the region in late November.
Snowguns have been roaring - or perhaps whispering, in the case of the new energy-efficient tower and fan guns that are starting to dominate the landscape of resorts.
The only glitch in this dreamlike march to Christmas vacation has been a really wet storm that settled across the region Sunday Dec. 12.
Trails got saturated, and then the temperatures plummeted to the single digits - again - initiating a frantic week of snowmaking and grooming.
The more terrain a resort had opened before that rain, the more work lay in store for snowmakers and groomers, and the longer it took to recover.
Longtime skiers and snowboarders will expect surface conditions to be perfect, or nearly so, at the beginning of each day now that enough time has elapsed since the rain. They also will expect that in some places, traffic will scrape off loose granular as the morning wears on, exposing very firm base below. They will match speed to trail conditions, keep their edges sharp, and always stay alert for variability in trail surface as the day progresses.
A visit to Mount Snow in Dover, Vt., Dec. 18 - the weekend after the rains hit the area - found about half the resort's terrain open, and skiing surfaces the sweet manmade that comes out of fan guns. By 11 a.m. some trails had started to show the effect of weekend traffic, with firm base starting to appear as loose snow was skied off.
This is the reality of early season skiing in New England, which is rarely as good as it is this year.