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18
Sep

Bode Miller, U.S. Olympic and world champion alpine skier, announced news of his engagement to pro volleyball player Morgan Beck in a tweet from Portillo where he’s currently training – congratulations to the super couple! We wish them all the best.

— Bode Miller (@MillerBode) September 17, 2012

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17
Sep

Brad Steward, founder of Bonfire Snowboards and good friend of Tom Sims, sent a note asking us to share this memorial he wrote on his FB page. Please take a moment to read it, share it and remember and honor Tom Sims, founder Sims Snowboards & Sims Skateboards, World Snowboarding Champion (1983) and World Champion Skateboarder (1975).

 

Through the mid 80’s, early 90’s, there were many things Tom Sims and I planned to do together. We had a list:
1. Build the first permanent half-pipe ever at a Ski Area, in Snow Summit, California. 
2. Teach every skater in Japan to snowboard.
3. Get the Sims Skate brand away from Vision Streetwear, sign Hosoi.
4. Start a mountain bike company.
5. Make a snowboard photo album for that thing called the Internet.
6. Decide if we were Canon or Nikon guys. Fuji or Kodak film (he would do some testing and later tell me which way to go).
7. Open every ski area in the world to snowboarding.
8. Beat the Vermont guy who married the rich girl (his way of referring to Jake Burton, in the early days, before they (sort of) mended ways).
9. Create the world’s leading Surf, Skate and Snow business enterprise.
10. Start a magazine.
11. Get snowboarding on MTV.
12. Date playboy bunny Kim Herrin.
13. Make a snowboard for riding waves.
14. Make a bike for riding waves.
15. Teach Kevin Staab, Hosoi, Alva, Jerry Lopez and all the badass North Shore lifeguards to snowboard.

There were hundred’s of other things on the list, these are a few I remember. Alongside the list, Tom had a set of rules:
1. Never, ever, ever, cover-up any part of the Sims Triangle logo. This was Holy.
2. Never talk to Tony Hawk, Stacy Peralta or Stecyk about snowboarding, they might teach the Bones Brigade to ride and make Powell into the coolest snowboard company in the world, and erase Sims from snowboarding like they did in skate.
3. Make sure all the Bones Brigade guys have a free Sims board.
4. Never go snowboarding without a camera and loads of film.
5. Never shoot riders on anything other than Sims.
6. Never tell anyone at a ski company we are making money.
7. Never let Barfoot get bigger than Sims.
8. Never do anything to hurt Chuck Barfoot.
9. Never give up the back cover advertisement in any magazine.
10. Never let Palmer, Kidwell or Craig Kelly ride for anyone other than Sims.
11. Never buy coke for anyone on the team. Beer, Pot, Acid and Mushrooms are purchased at my own personal discretion and risk.
12. If you can’t be the best rider in the group, be the best-dressed.
13. Never forget to send every ski area owners kid a free snowboard.
14. Never directionally scrape wax off your board from tail to nose, always work from nose to tail.
15. Never remove your side fins when you have to ride on hard pack.
16. Never ride without style.
17. Always fold your high-back down in photos where you are holding your board next to a Burton guy (so you can show that Sims highbacks fold, and Burton’s don’t – a product difference now long erased).
18. Never wear a backpack. Fanny packs are cooler and show the Sims logo better.
19. Never wear ski clothes. Wear a wetsuit or something bright that you bought in Europe, preferably at the Jet Set store in downtown St Moritz.
20. Always ride gear that no one else can get, and ride in places no one else can go. Make sure you get a photo of you doing it.
21. Always shoot Terry Kidwell doing skate tricks, never show him cruising around or turning.
22. Always go to the Nastar slalom course when you get on at a ski area, make sure you post one of the fastest times on the course. Make sure you sideslip the course beforehand, to clean the ruts and prevent you from wrecking. If you wreck in the course, all of snowboarding’s image suffers.
23. Always remember that snowboarding is just skateboarding on snow.
24. Never go to work for Burton.
25. Never marry someone that isn’t blonde.
26. Don’t drink too much, never smoke and never take pills unless you absolutely need to.
27. Never talk about the list.

This list too, could go on for many pages, on all topics of life. None of it was ever written down or consciously accounted for, it was simply what we knew together and talked about each time we were together. It was the knowledge he dropped. I worked and rode for/with Tom, in one form or the other, from the ages of 15-23. I was a blank slate of a kid, living on the edge of an Indian reservation with a small town half-pipe ramp in my buddy John’s backyard and a 2 chair ski resort 30 minutes from my front door. Skateboarding, Snowboarding and the few heroes who did it were everything to me. While under the tutelage of Tom I kept his rules for the most part. He, as the originator of the lists, kept the rules sacred – I never saw him violate them once. He looked sharp, rode fast and strong—always made sure we ‘got the shot’. As for the ‘to-do’ list, some we got around to, some we didn’t – but everyday at work, or on the mountain, there would be lengthy one-way discussions, goal setting, flights of imagination, laughing, ego, hyperbole and bluster. That was Tom. He lived to create the list, and counted on me to note down and deliver on every idea we/he could think of. The only listed topic he ever remained silent on was Playmate Kim Herrin, who I learned later; he had somehow scored a date with.

After a few years with Tom, I became an adult and gained a deeper appreciation for the manic, caring, inspiring, informative, insane and interesting person he was. As more layers of my youth wore off I also came to learn how different from Tom I was – and how important it was to do my own thing, in my own way. He did funny and fantastic things when he could see I was growing up. He once paid me for 9 months “not to start a snowboard company” – and required me to do no real work for the money. On a different occasion he took me to a bar in Zurich, Switzerland and demanded that I get drunk with him. Halfway through the drinks he asked me to dare him to play James Brown “I Feel Good” on the Bar’s jukebox until we got kicked out. Nine song plays in a row we were thrown out into the street (I have vague memory of him taking a swing at the barkeep as we lay on the sidewalk laughing). He laughed for days over this event. We also later met up with Lopez, Derek and Tom’s close friend Terry – and took the whole legendary surf crew out riding. As one item on the list reduced, he immediately would replace it with a new item to do.

What I remember most of this time however was the coming of age experience and slow realization that Tom was capable of fear and anger, like anyone would be. He was mad his business skills were beginning to fail him. Mad that Burton had taken control of the sport, the history and dialog around snowboarding (he rarely acknowledged the work and dedication of anyone at Burton). Mad that Craig Kelly’s contract (signed in haste at the bus station in Albany, New York) hadn’t held up when Burton came calling. Mad that all of his partners, in every facet of his business, always screwed him in the end. Mad at Vision Streetwear. Mad he couldn’t ride longer and live lighter. Mad at being mad at all of this. Yet somehow, he always kept it light. Whatever feeling he had always flashed, verbalized itself and was gone.

In the early 90’s, when I told Tom I was moving on to start Morrow Snowboards (not the shadow of the Morrow brand you see today) with Rob Morrow, Todd Richards and Noah Brandon, I expected mad. A true contrarian, he congratulated me and asked me to give him part of the company, if I could. When I started Bonfire, he again congratulated me, asked me for a Fireman Jacket and part of the company, if I could. I gave him a Jacket, and an option to buy the company 5 years later—not because I knew he really wanted it. I did it because I knew his pride would permit him to wear the coat or buy the company, and in some way I wanted to challenge him to move forward. I did it because I respected him, loved working with him and had grown up with his strange and fortunate influence in my life and work. Mainly, I did it because I was no longer a kid living by his impromptu mental list. We never worked together after that.

We moved through the later years of our relationship like many old friends do. Hooking up for the occasional run at industry events. Talking on the phone every now and then, I sent him a note after one of his Facebook rants—told him to mellow out and realize his legacy was sealed, strong and real. He didn’t need to say more about his work. We laughed about snowboard stories old and new—conducted a few secret meet-ups at trade shows, where he would master the ability to speak both deeply and cautiously about his business and personal challenges. We talked when Craig was killed in an avalanche. We talked about divorce, and then remarriage. Mostly in these talks, I listened, took notes and respectfully added to the mental list as the conversation went along—my way of acknowledging what a tremendous influence and friend Tom was to me. I assume that somewhere we each secretly knew too, there were parts of the list we had each never given up on.

My final memory of my life with Tom Sims is also my first memory of meeting Tom Sims. I called him one day when I was 14 years old, and asked him to tell me why his snowboards were so expensive. He ran me through all the technology; Rocker base, Solid Maple Plies, Steel Fins, Channeled tail, 3 inch Velcro ankle closures on the binding heel cup, 2 inch on the toe, “Same material Tracker Trucks builds their truck lappers out of, so you know my bindings are beefy”. I was sold, but explained to him I was currently riding on free Burton gear that Jake had supplied me with a season or two earlier. Tom said he would change that, and followed through a few weeks with a personal visit to my house some 600 miles drive from his home. I’m convinced he drove all that way after I told him Jake had recently visited and rode with my friends and me.

The contrast of their visits and the impressions remaining are indelible in my mind. When Jake arrived, he was in a road-grit covered mini-truck with a cheap camper slapped on top. He slept in the back while traveling. As a west-coast born and bred kid, my initial impression at 15 years old was that he was a Hippy hold-over from Vermont. I thought he was cool, and very well educated. Everything he had was Navy blue.

A year or so later, Tom Sims arrived, in a brand new gold BMW with wide, custom wheels, spoiler on the back and a gorgeous blond girlfriend in the passenger seat. Both Tom and his girl smelled like coconuts and the ocean breeze, rolling up to Flagstaff, Arizona. I breathe it all in. Tom’s car was filled with boards, drills, cassette tapes, camera gear, duct tape rolls, boot liners and everything else he could fit in the backseat. It was total chaos and I was immediately attracted. We met at his hotel, the nicest hotel in town, where his girlfriend pranced shyly around in a bikini bottom and sweatshirt (fresh out of the pool I presumed) while he preached the gospel of Sims and ran me through all his gear, each one of his boards, experiments and views on riding. I remember sliding a case of duct tape aside to view a nose shape from what he called ‘The proper distance to see the whole shape’. He made me move boxes, dig for screws and hold things while he drilled innumerable holes in decks, searching for the perfect stance. I was dizzy with the feint smell of wax, waves, wetsuits, women and willful indulgence. The entire conversation was passionate, quick, opinionated, filthy dirty and filled with eye contact and energy like no other adult had ever spoken to me. I was a child who had inadvertently stepped on the burning bush of snowboarding, and I liked the burn. At the end of it all I thought, “Go! Go to snowboarding with everything you have in your heart…and I did”. By virtue of these single and separate visits by Jake and Tom, I have come to believe I had a front row seat to the invisible ‘Matrix-like’ consumer and corporate context of snowboarding today, a context (I will add) that most never know exists—even as they work tradeshows and industry ladders. Tom Sims created the ‘Who’ a snowboarder was. And on the other side, Jake Burton created ‘what snowboarding will become’ and ‘how we will do it’. Both of their efforts, alongside many of us from the second wave, grew a sport.

This dynamic lives on today. When you get a board online, or at a retailer, then go to a resort and buy a lift ticket with no hassle or problems, thank Jake Burton. When you see a teaser of Jed Anderson sliding a massive handrail with bloody board graphics that feature his middle finger and a ‘Cheese Dick’s’ sticker, thank Tom Sims. When you see Danny and Dingo, thank Tom Sims. When you see the Sex Pistols, Black Flag and Minor Threat on your riding play list, thank Tom Sims. When you see riders with the freedom to design their own board graphics and image, thank Tom Sims. This is the consumer context, the rider archetypes set into place before an industry or business existed; one archetypal rider which is informed by nature and instinct—loose, fast, fun and untamable in all forms. The second archetype, an anti-form of the first; purposeful, intentional with a personal architecture whose only outcome is successful execution of the plan; Tom and Jake. Terry and Kelly. Palmer and Terje. Danny and Shawn. The archetype, by the way, knows no gender boundaries, Tina Basich and Shannon Dunn, Laura Hadar and Kelly Clark. It spins on ad-infinitum and snowboarding is always more interesting when it does so. It may also be the reason that Hybrid versions of snowboarding never hold the same imaging power as the pure archetype which is invested in the DNA of the sport by Tom and Jake – boardercross anyone? Moguls? Slalom and hard boots? We are children of a sport with an invisible purity seething out of every seam. Black. White. Cane, Abel, Goofy, Regular.

While the Sims brand has primarily failed in the core market today, in the 80’s they exposed the Achilles of Burton that brands like Bonfire, Capita, Airblaster, Ride, Rome, Lib, Union have all exploited over the last 20 years to define a point of difference in the business. As for Burton, for the last 20 years they have mastered indoctrination over incubation, leaving the latter to the ‘cool companies’ to serve up for their swooping while they use their expertise and passion to bring it to market. Neither part of this dynamic is wrong, or better or worse than the other. The point is that Tom Sims saw this structure, and knew these archetypes would drive the sport and everything around it, well before anyone in the second or third waves of snowboarding would ever puzzle this out. If there were a network of X’s and O’s behind the curtain of what was developing, Sims was Neo – and saw the horror, hope and hype of all of it.

For this reason I will never believe Tom Sims invented snowboarding, I will always believe that he invented the Snowboarder. Tom Sims was a true Pioneer. I have been called a snowboard Pioneer too, for many years now. Have even referred to myself as such, on speaking occasions, press releases, articles and imagery. It always makes me uncomfortable, living under a label. It is fundamentally against what Tom taught me. I have also seen many other people in the industry under the banner of ‘Snowboard Pioneer’, claiming a particular date they started a brand or began riding. Today, on Tom’s passing, I posit this is all bullshit. I’m no Pioneer. No other leader of any other snowboard company around today is a Pioneer, because we should honor the people who achieve this standard by defining Pioneer in precisely the meaning it was given in the days of the old west. A Pioneer is someone who rides in rough off the plains and out of the wilderness; uninvited, dirty, disgusted and dying to get cleaned up—thirsty for the affections of anyone who will sit down and listen to the improbable tale of how that Pioneer came to be in front of them on that particular day. A Pioneer is someone who comes in hot – defies convention and corporate models. A Pioneer is to be approached with trepidation and some distance, until we hear them speak the will of their intent. A Pioneer is disruptive, disappears and moves on when you need them the most; they will not be lassoed into a tradeshow meeting, contract or business plan. A Pioneer will not settle in and mend the fences or build neighborly relationships with other Pioneers; because they’re dying to get outside and get to the shit they ‘gotta get done’ before they get to the next town, the next venture, the next idea on the list. This is a Pioneer. Tom Sims was a Pioneer.

The rest of us ‘so called’ Pioneers? We are like the land developers in the days just after the first slimy, glittering rock of gold was panned out of the murky dirt by that poor soul of a Pioneer who searched so hard and deep for something shiny to prove his worth. We are the ones with clean hands, tradeshow teeth and technology, who have happened upon that Pioneers’ clawed out hole in the river. We are the second wave, who put in resorts, retailers, magazines, websites, teams, terrain parks, teasers, podiums and profit. We are too clean and too calculated to be true Pioneers. As we of the second, and many other waves of snowboarding to occur since, look down at that unnamed shiny thing in the dusty desert that was the world before snowboarding, I say we all pause today and put a name to that first Pioneer, that first burst of energy that made us think, “There might be something to do here, something to grow here”. The name of that Pioneer is Tom Sims.

I can see Tom Sims standing in the middle of that open area of the afterlife now. Feet pressed into the ground, so at to leave a mark for us in the twilight of life. His neck and body are bent down, looking into a small trickle of water, hardly enough water to require more than one step to pass over. He reaches into his pocket to grab an old piece of paper and a pen. He scribbles a note of what will become the new list, before looking up into the blown out hot sun (shoot 500@5.6 and close down two-stop, shoot Fujichrome 50 for better blue skies; he would say in analyzing the filmed image of these words). He places the paper back in his pocket and crosses the stream alone.

Thank you Tom for our time together. I feel good, like I knew that I would—because I have known you these many years. Put another Swiss Franc in the Jukebox and rest in peace my dear friend.

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16
Sep

The NOAA Climate Prediction Center’s U.S. Drought Outlook issued last week for the period ending Nov. 30 points to drought conditions lingering or intensifying over most of the United States. Exceptions include the Southwest and Southeast, where limited improvement is suggested. Note the forecasted areas of persisting or intensifying drought covers most of the major ski resorts in the Rockies and Sierras sparing only SW Colorado, Northern Idaho and Montana and the Pacific NW. Could this point to another late start for the same resorts that were short on snow last season?

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15
Sep

Team Americas won the 2012 Swatch Skiers Cup down in Valle Nevado, Chile. The competition introduced a new and unique format with a series of head-to-head contests featuring one Team America rider against one Team Europe rider in both big mountain and back-country slopestyle disciplines and two rounds of eight heats per discipline with every rider obligated to feature in a minimum of one Freeride and one Slopestyle heat.  The winner of each heat won one point for his team. Team Europe with Sam Smoothy (NZ), Mathieu Imbert (Fra), Paddy Graham (UK), Jacob Wester (Swe), Richard Permin (Fra), Sverre Liliequist (Swe) and Tom Leitner (Ger) won the 1st Big Mountain round with a score of 5 to 3 and Team America with Riley Leboe (Can), Chopo Diaz (Chi), and our own Cody Townsend, Chris Benchetler, Moment Skier KC Deane, Drew Tabke, Oakley White-Allen and Dane Tudor took the 5 to 3 win in the second. With the last Backcountry Slopestyle course closed due to unsafe snow conditions, athletes and organizers took a last minute decision to change plans and hold a tiebreak-style match with only three riders from each team on a higher venue with better snow conditions. Team Americas emerged victorious. Check out the incredible final round rides by Cody, Chopo, KC, Mathieu, Markus and Paddy in this video. What a great event – can’t wait to see the action at the next Skiers Cup which will take place in Zermatt, Switzerland, Feb. 9-16, 2013.

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14
Sep

Where is this Alpental you speak of? That’s the title of this funny short shedding light on the great skiing & riding at Alpental – known as being the most challenging of the 4 ski areas that comprise our home resort: Summit at Snoqualmie in Washington. Die hard Alpentalics are tough on our other 3 areas so don’t be offended – they’re just having fun – too much fun. We all know that the other areas offer something for every level and together, the Summit at Snoqualmie has some of the best backcountry and night skiing in the Pacific NW. Be sure to check it out for yourselves when the season gets started. Don’t miss out on their early season pass pricing which ends Thurs. 9/20. See you on the snow.

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13
Sep

Catch Absinthe Films’ “Resonance” tonight at 8pm (7pm doors open) at the Egyptian Theatre and tomorrow in Portland at the Hollywood Theatre. Stop by Evo in Seattle for tix ($10). “Resonance” features scenes with Nike and Slash Snowboards’ athlete Manuel Diaz at our own Stevens Pass. Other riders include Nicolas Müller, Scotty Lago, Brandon Cocard, Gigi Rüf, Danny Kass, Mat Schaer, Bode Merrill, Blair Habenicht, Eric Jackson, Lucas Debari, Sylvain Bourbousson & Wolle Nyvelt.

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12
Sep


Tom Sims, a former World Snowboarding Champion (1983), World Champion Skateboarder (1975) and founder Sims Snowboards and Sims Skateboards. died Wednesday from cardiac arrest in Santa Barbara, CA. Sims is credited with many of the most important innovations in both snowboarding and skateboarding including the first metal edged snowboard, the first snowboarding Half Pipe, the first freestyle snowboard, the first pro-model snowboard and first women’s snowboard. In addition to his innovations and championship competitions, Sims was a snowboarding stunt double for Roger Moore in the 1985 James Bond film “A View to a Kill.” Below’s a video looking back at the history of snowboarding as told by Sims, followed by a 1989 promo video for Sims Snowboards which starts “This is snowboarding. It’s the fastest growing sport…” -he had to explain what snowboarding was back then. How times have changed thanks to Tom Sims. His contributions to the snowboarding industry will be with us forever. RIP.




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11
Sep

Matchstick Productions, the most award-winning ski movie company in history, kicks off its “SUPERHEROES OF STOKE” 2012 MSP Movie Tour in Seattle this Sat., September 15th at Marion Oliver McCaw Hall (8pm showtime, 6:30 doors open). See trailer below. This year marked the 20th anniversary of MSP’s first ski film, “Soul Sessions & Epic Impressions,” and provided an opportunity to look back at two decades of ski films and the evolution of the sport. “SUPERHEROES OF STOKE” honors the heroes who have made the sport of freeskiing what it is today and pays tribute to the heroes who gave their lives for what they loved. The movie features an all-star cast (many will be at the premiere): Richard Permin, Mark Abma, James Heim, Sean Pettit, Jacob Wester, Cody Townsend, Ingrid Backstrom, Russ Henshaw, Eric Hjorleifson, Michelle Parker, PK Hunder, Riley Leboe, Gus Kenworthy, Logan Pehota, Sam Anthamatten, Leo Ahrens, and Aidan Sheahan. Also featuring past legends: Shane McConkey, Seth Morrison, Wendy Fisher, JP Auclair, Mike Douglas, CR Johnson, Tanner Hall, Eric Pollard, Hugo Harrisson, Sarah Burke, and many more. Let’s step out big time and show Matchstick they chose the right city to premiere their movie in. Additional information about the tour, iTunes release, and DVD/Blu-ray pre-orders can be found by visiting http://www.skimovie.com.

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10
Sep

Two-time World Champion skier Chris Davenport, or “Dav” as he’s known to friends and fans, officially joined the SCARPA family last week as an athlete ambassador. SCARPA thinks it’s a great match, and so does Dav. “I’m a product guy, a gear geek if you will. I love equipment, I love tweaking it, and I believe that you can always make a better product,” Davenport said. “SCARPA is super well respected in the world of skiing, so for me, this a chance to work with an already great line of products, but also a chance to help create something innovative and new.” Davenport is helping the SCARPA team develop a new line of SCARPA freeride boots that will be available to consumers in Fall 2013. He’s psyched with the preliminary testing he did on a recent trip to Chile. Chris Davenport is widely regarded as one of the premier big mountain skiers in the world today. Among his many ski mountaineering achievements, in 2007, Chris became the first person to ski all fifty-four of Colorado’s 14,000-foot peaks in less than one year. Earlier this year, he spent 14 days ski touring 15 of the Pacific NW’s Ring of Fire volcanoes and logging >78,000 vertical feet – check out the trip report and video below. He has had numerous first descents of peaks worldwide and has been featured in more than thirty ski films by Warren Miller and Matchstick Productions. He is also a TV commentator for ESPN, ABC sports, and Outside Television, and is an Olympic and World Cup announcer for ski racing events. If you love backcountry skiing/riding, be sure to check out his books that celebrate North America’s mountains: Ski The 14ers and Fifty Classic Ski Descents of North America.

Mt. Baker, WA 2012.05.19 Final Ring of Fire Summit from The Snow Troopers on Vimeo.

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09
Sep

With much of the nation still experiencing summer weather and NOAA reporting that the contiguous U.S. experienced the 3rd hottest summer on record (only 2011 and 1936 had higher temps) - it’s hard to think about winter. Especially as WA was nearing a record dry streak. Well, that streak just ended at 48 days (3 days shy of a record) and snow levels dropped to 6500 ft in the Cascade mountains last night. The ski season starts in about 2 months. So, that got us thinking: what’s up for this winter? We’ve had drier-than-average conditions stretching from the Pacific Northwest, through the Rockies and into the Upper Midwest. Nebraska, Washington and Wyoming each had their driest August on record. Colorado, Idaho and Oregon each had a top ten dry August. Will precip return in the form of snow? Let’s hope so after last winter when 24 states experienced below-normal precip and poor California had its driest winter ever. Fortunately, WA saw one of its best winters and we met more skiers and boarders from out of state than ever. Mt. Baker ski area reported that in March alone, they had 260″ of snowfall and 9 ft in 7 days. Yup, all over western WA, we had plenty of “reverse powder days” – when the snow falls so fast that the conditions get better as the day goes. Not so surprising considering WA’s home to the snowiest place on the planet at Mt. Rainier. And remember this deep powder day at Alpental?

Yeah, we’d like to see more of that – everywhere. But read on because below is one take on the 2012/13 winter season from Farmer’s Almanac:

“We think it will be a ‘winter of contraries, as if Old Man Winter were cutting the country in half. The eastern half of the country will see plenty of cold and snow. The western half will experience relatively warm and dry conditions….We predict that real winter weather will return to areas from the Great Lakes into the Northeast. Most eastern states – as far south as the Gulf Coast – will see snowier than normal conditions and cooler temperatures. We are “red flagging” February 12–15 and March 20–23 for major coastal storms along the Atlantic seaboard; storms bringing strong winds and heavy precipitation. But on the other side of the country, winter will continue its hiatus for another year. The forecast for west of the Continental Divide – the Pacific Northwest, desert Southwest, Pacific Coast – calls for mild temperatures and below-normal precipitation….

Get a more detailed forecast for your region in the 2013 Farmers’ Almanac!

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