Thursday, March 19, 2009

That was the season that was—SKIING

In our last post, we discussed criteria for rating different winters. This was all based on skiable days, and the quality of the days, and such.

So how did this season stack up, and how does it compare to other seasons? Let's chart this out:

 Skiable DaysRacesDays inMurphy 

* G/E = good/excellent

That seems about right. And if it seems like we've been a bit spoiled this year and last, we have. From 2002-3 to 2006-7, there were a total of 142 "good or excellent" snow days each year. That's an average of less than 30. However, in the last two years, there have been 165 "good or excellent" days, averaging nearly three months, and more than the previous five years combined. That's not too shabby (although snow between Mora and Birkie would have been nice).

But if we want to go a bit further, we can look at each season, day by day. To view a larger version of these charts, click on them. The key is:

* White = a day without local skiing
* Light Blue = a day with fair or poor skiing locally
* Dark Blue = a day with good or excellent skiing locally
(The gray bars are in place on February 29 on non-leap years.)

And for each race, green denotes a full race, yellow a partially-skied race (either on a lake or shortened, although since this concerns mainly snow quality, a race shortened or canceled due to cold is still counted as a full race) and red a canceled race.

To see everything at once, without a lot of scrolling, I've broken the last seven years in to two:

Now, why does this only go for back seven years? Well, that's as far back as Skinnyski's archives go. I'd be glad to build more in to my little database if the information is of high enough quality, but I fear that pre-2002 reports, if they exist, might not exist in a high enough number to be of much use. What with the Internet being a lot less widespread back then. I may build something based on weather and snow depth, but it would be even more rudimentary.

But if we look back over the last seven years, what is the best date for skiing. If you want to have an event on a certain date, and that depends on snow, what is the best day you can pick? The answer is February 9. Out of a total possible 14 points (one awarded for a day having snow, another added if it was "good" or "excellent" conditions), February 9 garners 12. Other than the horrid winter of 2004-5 (the City of Lakes meltdown), it had good or excellent conditions every year. Disregarding condition, are there any days which had skiing every day in the last seven years? Well, actually, yes, several, all in February (mainly because there wasn't snow until February 1, 2003). They are the 3d, 14th, 15th, 21st and the 24th to 27th. Again, we can chart this out, using the same type of key:

What might this tell us? Well, based on a very small data set, there is some sort of skiing 5/7 of the time from January 1 to March 14. As far as good days, January and early February are pretty good, as is late February and March. There's a bit of a lull in between. Of course, this is most assuredly a statistically insignificant sample, but perhaps there are two peaks to winter, and the dreaded January Thaw is not mythical. We'll see how the numbers stack up in to the future.

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