The 2009-2010 winter in Rhode Island fell somewhere on the spectrum between record December cold in Miami, and the snow-less February Olympics in Canada.
We had our usual rain/snow/sleet/black ice mixes, but overall, winter whirred quickly through Rhode Island. Even the record colds in February seemed like just a last ditch attempt by Father Winter, who took a few months off and tried to overcompensate in the shortest month.
Still the winter saw more rain-snow mixes and exaggerated blizzard predictions than Northern conditions. I think I may be the only person disappointed about this, because I see the end of the cold season coming earlier and earlier every year. Rhode Island is notorious for its blizzard-warning-induced mass panics. Sometimes it is understandable, since the state is far from equipped with the same kind of Mammoth road-clearing fleets, as the Buffalos or the Watervilles of the upper snow-belt. Also the horrible blizzard of '78 caught many Rhode Islanders by surprise. Most doubtful children have heard from worried parents the stories of people cross-country skiing along snowy peaks of cars stranded on 95.
Any hint of overnight, commute-affecting snow, sends a panicking mass exodus to the gas stations and grocery stores for bread, cigarettes and milk. But this winter these activities were just done out of ritual, there was no actual need to bunker down against the advancing cumulus cloud armies. There was no one in a three day stand-off with snow drifts. There was not much real panic even from the most hysterical of '78 survivors. This winter passed quickly, and besides a few minor snow storms, it didn't leave much behind.
No business like snow business
In southern Rhode Island, we have no groundhog seers to tell us if the winter will continue to rage or not. But we do have a man who has been running his business off the whims of the weather since the 70s. Owner/general manager of Yawgoo Valley, Max deWardener always seems to know when to call it a winter. He's great at telling what the weather is going to give him and how far he can stretch his meager hills and cavalry of snow guns.
Yawgoo Valley, situated in Slocum, tucked into the back side of a hill, is Rhode Island's long standing, lone ski area. The area consists of 36 acres, with 12 trails, a snowboarding area, a tubing park, along with waterslides, and a pool that is open in the summer. The fact that it is not a mountain, is one of the biggest reasons why Yawgoo's fate is in the hands of the weather. If Rhode Island has an extremely warm winter, no amount of snow making will save the snow from the warm temperatures.
The cold sleeve around the year is lessening, shriveling down two two and a half months of real winter. Yawgoo usually opens in early December, but really it opens whenever it gets consistently cold enough to make snow. They close the same way; when Max senses the weather getting too warm for it to be worth it, he closes for the winter. This season ended on Sunday, March 7, with t-shirt snowboarding and pond-skimming. In the latter, the participant would head down the snow hill, then glide across the surface of a man-made pool of water like Jesus on skis, or fall in and get soaked if he or she didn't have enough speed.
The following weekend the entire state was a washout, full of flood warnings and torrential rainpour. Fortunately for me, I was in Miami. I came back and Miami apparently followed. This week Rhode Island has been in the 60s, and it is going to be hinting at 70s over the weekend. I'd say Max might have been right again about this winter. Though I have quite the bias, I like the winter, and love the snow. But even a cold-blooded snowboard junkie like myself likes the cool breezes, fresh greens and spring dresses enough to cast the winter into the dark realm of never-think-of-you-again.
When winter's here, we hate it; when spring comes in, we love it, and I'm content enough to wait until next winter. Hopefully that one will be longer, or maybe Max will be wrong and winter will go deep into spring. Probably not. But, then again, it is Rhode Island weather ... we could see snow next week.