As summer begins to fade and the days grow shorter, a phenomenon unique to ski towns can be observed at coffee shops, bus stops and local watering holes. As the chill of fall sets in, there is a clear shift in the talk of the town. Winter is coming and it’s time to get excited and make some predictions. While these discussions may begin with new gear, it inevitably turns to the most important subject – powder, and how much of it will fall this winter. If you have not experienced seasoned mountain townies evoking their inner Dionne Warwick or Ned Stark in an attempt to predict the severity of the impending winter, you have missed an incredible melding of poetry, euphemisms and slang rarely seen outside of the most trippy of surf films. Since it isn’t as easy for some of you to venture to the town square on a Friday night and eavesdrop on these conversations, we decided to reach out to some of our favorite locals to chime in with their predictions and their trusted method of prognostication.
Jim Woodmency – Metorologist mountainweather.com
Prediction: It will be a good year.
Method: Volcanos, specifically volcanic eruptions. As the saying goes, volcanoes spew huge clouds of ash into the sky. This ash, while incredibly hot, apparently has the ability to drop colossal amounts of pow on the Tetons. The 1995 eruption of the Soufriere volcano on the island of Montserrat is often referenced when discussing the epic snowfall year ’96/’97 A.K.A. ’90-sick/’90-heaven.
To be fair to Woody’s reputation I will add the disclaimer that this is not his preferred method of predicting snowfall, but his favorite barstool barometer. It should be noted that at the time of this posting the Smithsonian is reporting that there are 12 active volcanoes on planet Earth at the moment.
Jess McMillian – Jackson Hole Mountain Resort Athlete
Prediction: “We are going to have an epic winter.”
Method: “The forests are on fire which is cyclical. We have been in drought long enough for the forests to burn, so now we are going to be in a heavy snowfall cycle for the next four years.”
Rob Kingwill: Jackson Hole Mountain Resort Athlete
Prediction: Above Average
Method: I had a vision the other day as I was walking down the road here in Jackson Hole, enjoying the amazing sunset enhanced by smoke from several forest fires in the area. As I was walking, a giant hawk descended through the smoke filled skies, and seemed to fly in a figure 8 type configuration before landing on a nearby fence post. This got me thinking about infinity, and the number 8. Then I started thinking about the two figure 8’s the hawk had drawn in the sky, and I realized that he was reminding me of 1988, a summer also filled with smoke and giant forest fires in Yellowstone. The winter after those fires was one of the best winters for snow I have ever seen, and I’m thinking that this coming season will be the same!
Owen Leeper: Jackson Hole Mountain Resort Athlete
Method: “The most selfies taken at the top of the tram in one day this summer equals the number of inches we’ll get this season! I’m guessing around 800. ”
Travis Rice: Jackson Hole Mountain Resort Athlete
Prediction: Above Average
Method: “What Rob said”
Bill: Some guy I met at The Bird.
Prediction: “Should be a good winter”
Method: We get a certain amount of precipitation in a given year. If you have a dry summer like we are having, you are bound to have a wet winter.
Hadley Hammer: Jackson Hole Mountain Resort Athlete
Prediction: “Most snow we have ever received…a winter to remember.”
Method: “Nina, Nino – potato, patato….I think no matter how much it snows in Jackson Hole this winter (which I’m of course predicting is going to be the most we’ve ever received), that it will be a winter to remember.”
Prediction: “Should be a good winter. Lots of caterpillars this summer”
Method: I always look for an increase in the number of wooly bugger caterpillars. Especially if they are found on the north side of trees.
Griffin Post: Jackson Hole Mountain Resort Athlete
Prediction: “Going to be a good winter.”
Method: “I’m not into these “scientific” long term forecasts. Call me old fashioned, but I make all of my weather predictions based on the size of pinecones, thickness of animals fur and the height of the grass. So, given the number of thick-coated dogs I’ve seen fetching trophy-sized pinecones out of the tall, tall grass, I think it’s going to be a good winter.”
Based on what the locals are saying we are due to have a season filled with blower pow days. I can almost hear them backing up the plow trucks now. It should be noted that I don’t recall ever going into a ski season where people predicted that we would have a bad snow year, but if you are a negative Nancy who has not seen northbound caterpillars or huge pine cones, Lynsey Dyer offered some words of advice on how you can be proactive about helping our snowfall.
“My Native American friends have taught me that every time we ask for something we need to offer something first. I don’t tell many people this but I offer the earth gifts of thanks all the time (loose tobacco, crystals). She has kept me safe this way. The earth appreciates appreciation just like we all do. This season I have made ceremony on all the high points that I’ve been brought to as well as the waters asking for and intending balance for all especially the earth. That goes for snowfall too!! If she’s in balance we will see the snow!! We all have the power to make offerings, show our appreciation and then ask for the season of our lives! #makeithappen”