The mountain coming up short in my coldest winter ski season report

[Editor’s note: the following has been updated since publication]

The photos are brutal. They remind you that the cold (and lack of snow) you had at the end of fall will vanish with the air we’re breathing.

You’re told that yes, it will come back, but, for now, you’ll sit there and wonder when it will feel normal again and what that means.

Either way, this brings me to my biggest question for ski season in Washington: which ski area will survive the winter of 2020? How will this fall’s reaper stack up to three others that have killed the sport in the region in recent years?

Enough history to know that the late 1990s and early 2000s were terrible for the industry. We had a sudden disease outbreak, a virus that attacked swans and infected families who tried to take them to the mountain. Snow became scarce early that decade, a downward spiral that many skiers and snowboarders say is the worst recession in history. Then, yes, there was the 1994 Northridge earthquake, which many say helped prompt Washington to build a new ski area.

So many factors contribute to a good season, so this year is far from a done deal. But my instinct says it will be another tough one.

While it’s early to talk about an end-of-season report card on ski areas, it’s not too early to talk about what might lie ahead for those areas who are already deep into their fourth month of operation. (Hint: The above-mentioned ski areas will be the ones who get the most seasonal snow.)

Here’s what to expect heading into what should be another killer season for ski areas.

1. Where will the snow be?

There’s going to be a problem for DC, but it won’t be the ones you remember.

You might be able to venture out on the trails at Reagan National and Haleakala National Parks, but most Washingtonians will have to start ski-ing online, due to the lack of snow. Look for the white stuff to arrive early in the Pacific Northwest and in Oregon, then creep into the West Coast and New England.

2. Will skiers and snowboarders suffer?

Most likely.

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