Going into the winter of 2011-12, the Farmer’s Almanac predicted a wickedly cold and snowy season for New England. “Clime and punishment” was in the forecast, with above-average snowfall and below-average temperatures on deck.

In late October, just before one of Maine’s few significant storms this season, NOAA reported that a La Nina pattern cooling the Pacific would make for “excess snowfall” — basically, snow that rivaled our stellar last season. So what the heck happened?

Earlier in March, temperatures in Maine — not just in coastal Maine, but in ski country — pushed north of 80 degrees. Keith Carson of WCSH-6 reported that this was Portland’s second-warmest winter ever. Snowfall totals for the winter are in the low double digits.

Despite the lack of precipitation, the mountains of Maine and New England have put together a fantastic season of skiing. In 40-plus days on the hill, I’d be pressed to find a bad one in the bunch. A mix of a few cold nights, and tireless groomers and snowmakers made for good conditions everywhere in Maine.

From before Christmas to after February break, there was good skiing statewide. Many resorts had to make snow a bit later into the year than they’d like, but the work paid off with a solid base that stood up to high temperatures.

Thankfully, serious skiers and riders are optimists, and many still made trips to the resorts. Reservation numbers throughout the state held steady for President’s Day week (one of the biggest vacation weeks of the season), and a number of New England resorts reported above-average or record-breaking weekends.

There’s still reason to hold out hope for the rest of the season, too. The snowiest months in the western Maine mountains are historically March and April; a fact longtime skiers remember from a sign on one of the top towers of the Superquad.

Whether we tough it out on the snow we have or get blessed with a late-season storm, spring has most definitely sprung. It’s time to remember all your spring skiing best practices.

• Stick to the groomers for the first few runs. Despite the warm daytime weather, temperatures drop overnight and turn yesterday’s corn snow into today’s cement. After a few hours, things will soften up.

• Stay centered on your skis. Good skiers usually have their weight forward, but it’s better to stay over the center of your skis in wet, slushy snow. Bring out the wider skis, too, to help you float on top of the snow. Warm weather wax will keep the gear happy.

• Dress in layers. You’ll be happy that you have the parka at 8:30 a.m., but by the time the mercury hits the 60s, you’ll want to shed the extra gear.

• Beware the bare spots. With snowpack slipping, brown patches of ground are showing up all over the place. Watch for slopes with eastern and southern exposures to lose snow first, and check landings before you leap.

• Water and sunscreen. As one perpetually dried-out, goggle-tanned skier to another, I urge you not to forget to slather on the sunscreen and drink lots of water. It’s an easy thing to forget, and you might not notice the sunburn until it’s way too late.

Keep your fingers crossed for a late-season storm to spruce up the slopes.

If it doesn’t come, don’t lament. There’s still plenty to do in the mountains, and — despite the boats and golf clubs on the coast — still snow to do it on.

Just don’t forget the sunscreen.

Josh Christie is a freelance writer and lifetime outdoors enthusiast. He shares column space in Outdoors with his father, John Christie. Josh can be reached at: [email protected]

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