Let me be a light in the darkness here. NY Ski Forums in general really needs some more optimism.
I know this has been mentioned before, but look at last year. The temps were actually way below average, and our ski season in NY lasted almost until May. We did not really have all that much snowfall, but it just never went anywhere. What snow we did have just hung on until about April 12 in CNY. If the temps were 10 degrees higher every day last year I'm pretty confident that the natural snow still would have lasted until at least March 12. Maybe longer.
This year was almost the opposite. Temps were way above average, and we actually had a ton of precipitation, but in the form of r**n. (please excuse my French) For Plattekill, this actually meant they could make more snow because their pathetic little pond that empties quickly stayed full this year. I don't necessarily see a warming trend per se, but what I do see is extreme weather swings. It was 20 below zero this February, only to be followed by temps around 50, 48 hours later. That's a 70 degree temp swing. The same thing that happens from day to day, is happening from season to season in general.
This year was an El Nino which always means a shit winter. I'll be willing to debate climate change next year at this time after we see what happens. If it is a repeat of this season, then I may not be getting up in the morning either. IMO, this season wasn't all that bad. Some mountains like Plattekill really had it easy last year as they barely made any snow after Mid Jan. Base was like 12", it just didn't go anywhere. This year we had to pay back a little and hold our own a little, and I think many ski resorts did a fine job doing so. I think next year is supposed to be a La Nina. In the mean time, I am boosting my snowmaking power over the summer.
You know what Sno, as much as people (including but not limited to myself) occasionally find you slightly annoying, I can't agree with you more that snowmaking is the main source of livelihood for a ski area. 11-12 was not great either, but was better than this year. La Nina doesn't really effect the east so much, so I'm hoping for at least an average winter. 12-13 was a fine winter. Nothing special happened, but it was a very reasonable year for ski areas.
Hunter always does a great job and every year I struggle do decide wether to get a Hunter pass or Plattekill pass. For me is ultimately comes down to the social aspect which I enjoy more at Plattekill, and the shorter lift lines/ skier density. If I could ski mid-week, I wouldn't be skiing Plattekill. I would be skiing Hunter. Powerful snowmaking is the only way a ski area in the East can survive, and most places aren't doing enough of it. But yes, Hunter has got is right! in fact, I even give Plattekill a lot of credit for this season. North face and Plunge still has tons of snow. When they finish their lake, Plattekill will be a force not to be reckoned with. I can't wait to see what that place looks like in 10 years. Could go either way.
Ya, ElNino which normally produces for the southwest but guess what? Every place in the 4 corners is below average and the PNW got the snow. Nothing is "normal" any longer. That's the deal, weather is all over the place and that's going to lead to much bigger problems than freaking snowmaking capacity
I think, for now, inconsistency is the new normal. This is my 6th season in the PNW, and none of the 6 have been consistent. From record-breaking draught last year to the best 10 weeks I have ever seen this year.
It will be unpredictable to say the least... you've just got to make the best with what your given