Mountain Blog

Name That Storm
Nancy Story - Tuesday, December 18, 2012


 Naming winter storms is nothing new to Europeans, but here in North America, the only storms we’ve named have always been the tropical kind.  This season, though, the National Weather Service (NWS) is slapping monikers on winter storms for the first time, as evidenced by this list of potentially noteworthy blizzards for this season.

What’s the point? Was winter feeling left out? According to the NWS, here’s why:

  • Naming a storm raises awareness.
  • Attaching a name makes it much easier to follow a weather system’s progress.
  • A storm with a name takes on a personality all its own, which adds to awareness.
  • In today’s social media world, a name makes it much easier to reference in communication.
  • A named storm is easier to remember and refer to in the future.

They’ve come up with a list of fiery-sounding names, though. I don’t know where and when Athena and Brutus hit, but we’ve already had a taste of Caesar, albeit slight. Now Draco is drumming up notoriety this week as it builds frosty momentum out West, promising to bring snow to parts of the Upper Midwest this weekend.  Since “draconian” means unusually severe or cruel, we’ll keep our fingers crossed that it’s snow and nothing else. If you’re wondering how they came up with these names, here are their origins:

Athena: The Greek goddess of wisdom, courage, inspirations, justice, mathematics and all things wonderful.

Brutus: Roman Senator and best known assassin of Julius Caesar.

Caesar: Title used by Roman and Byzantine emperors.

 Draco: The first legislator of Athens in Ancient Greece.

Euclid: A mathematician in Ancient Greece, the father of geometry.

Freyr: A Norse god associated with fair weather, among other things.

Gandolf: A character in a 1896 fantasy novel in a pseudo-medieval countryside.

Helen: In Greek mythology, Helen of Troy was the daughter of Zeus.

Iago: Enemy of Othello in Shakespeare’s play, Othello.

Jove: The English name for Jupiter, the Roman god of light and sky.

Khan: Mongolian conqueror and emperor of the Mongol empire.

Luna: The divine embodiment of the moon in Roman mythology.

Magnus: The Father of Europe, Charlemagne the Great, in Latin: Carolus Magnus.

Nemo: A Greek boy’s name meaning "from the valley," means "nobody" in Latin.

Orko: The thunder god in Basque mythology.

Plato: Greek philosopher and mathematician, who was named by his wrestling coach.
Q: The Broadway Express subway line in New York City.

Rocky: A single mountain in the Rockies.

Saturn: Roman god of time, also the namesake of the planet Saturn in our solar system.

Triton: In Greek mythology, the messenger of the deep sea, son of Poseidon.

Ukko: In Finnish mythology, the god of the sky and weather.

Virgil: One of ancient Rome’s greatest poets.

Walda: Name from Old German meaning “ruler.”

Xerxes: The fourth king of the Persian Achaemenid Empire, Xerxes the Great.

Yogi: People who do yoga.

Zeus: In Greek mythology, the supreme ruler of Mount Olympus and the gods who lived there







Snow Gun Audio
Nancy Story - Thursday, December 13, 2012


 The air is whining outside - even louder than we skiers who whine inside, wanting more snow.  All week long, the snowmaking machines have provided an audio backdrop to our daily duties here in the ol’ base lodge. Their constant din is a reminder that opening day is just hours away (Friday, Dec. 14th at 10am). Snowmakers scurry around on their snow machines, up and down the hills, moving a gun here, positioning a machine there, making sure there’s coverage everywhere. It’s like an army of snow artists, putting paint on the canvas to get ready for ski season’s debut.  Braving frigid temperatures, chilling winds, and blinding snow, they alternately sweat and freeze under layers of clothing as they work primarily under dark cover of night (and into the day if temps permit.) Maintaining a vigil on our 130-gun snowmaking fleet from sundown until sunup requires a hardy crew who knows just what to do. Head snowmaking guru Mike Cutler just celebrated his 22nd anniversary here at Crystal, and he knows his snow.  What makes winter white, particularly in these times when Mother Nature sporadically wanders off, are the 18 guys behind the 130 guns that provide this music to our ears. See you on the slopes this weekend!

Early Winter Angst
Nancy Story - Wednesday, December 05, 2012

When you live in a rural area like Benzie County, and everybody knows you work at a ski resort (because everybody knows everything about everybody), the conversation starters are predictable.

“When are you going to open?” they ask. “How much snow have you made?” And my favorite: “How much snow are we going to get this winter?” (Never enough, my friends, never enough).  Snow angst is heavy this December with its stalled slope opening start, as we wait for Mother Nature to deliver the goods. Yet, we ski resort staffers are mentally steeling ourselves. We know it will come. It may snow in spits and bits, dumping heavily to tease us, then pulling back to torture us with short meltdowns, only to strike again – but it comes.  Ski season always arrives with all the grace and glory of a freight train. Once the flakes fall and the bullwheels begin to turn, the hectic pace begins anew.

So what keeps each ski season from being the same old stuff? Every winter is like a classroom of kids – another year, but a new cast of characters to make it different. Through a new winter’s perspective, ski experiences are revisited. You can always count on days where the ski is so blue and the snow is so white it makes your teeth hurt, like eating ice cream. You can count on thick-flaked storms where you ski in Braille, finding protection in forested glades. There’ll be solitudinal glides through hushed hardwoods, tip-chattering runs through the slalom gates, early morning signature skiing when you carve the first turns on the hill. The season will be filled, once again, with stories of awesome air, jumps hidden and found, patches of powder to float on, fast times and hard laughs.

Skiers have 56 years worth of winter experience in these Buck Hills,where a small warming hut and rope tow once stood. They return winter after winter for the same outdoor experience, made fresh by the stories each ski season brings. And the snow always comes.