In the middle of January, we generally find ourselves worried about the cold when planning a ski outing. Are the hand and foot warmers packed? Do we have enough layers? This year, however, we're dealing with the opposite problem. For almost a week now, temperatures have been way above seasonal, and above freezing almost every day. This warm spell looks like it will continue well into next week, with seasonal temperatures only reappearing next weekend.
What does this mean for ski conditions?
In short, don't expect powder at your backyard ski hill, but don't stay home in fear that the slopes will be awful. In the Montreal/Laurentians region, it snowed a few days ago. In lower altitudes, this snow was washed away shortly afterward when the temperature rose above 0 and it rained. At higher altitudes, however, this precipitation seemed to fall only as snow, and these areas may have been spared the warm temperatures. If you're able, consider skiing at a place like Mont Tremblant or Mont Sutton, where conditions have the highest chances of being undamaged by the warm weather. Also, a trip to New England always holds interesting surprises, since many mountains are in their own micro-climate, which causes different weather than what you might find even 15 minutes away.
If you have plans to be somewhere else this weekend, expect almost spring-like conditions. The weather looks decent for tomorrow and Sunday, with temperatures around the freezing point and even a bit of sunshine for Sunday. This is beneficial because surfaces won't become hard-packed, dense and icy, as they would have if the temperature had dropped much lower. Rather, expect the snow to be loose frozen granular with a hard base, with maybe a bit of softness on top depending on temperatures.
Lastly, even though the temperature may seem warm, it definitely won't be a spring weekend. The air will be damp, which will make things seem colder, and winds can make chairlift rides quite chilly. You may not need 6 layers under your ski jacket, but don't plan on skiing in a shirt and spring jacket. Also, there is a chance of freezing rain in many regions tomorrow, so make sure to drive safely if you're travelling on the highway. For the upcoming week, we're crossing our fingers that temperatures stay below 0, because if they do, it looks like there could be nice amounts of snowfall from Monday to Wednesday.