Warm weather delays winter activities

Katelyn Green, Staff Writer

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Outdoor enthusiasts were put off by unusually warm weather, which continued to persist throughout December and into January. Ski mountains throughout the Northeast were forced to delay openings for several weeks.

Ski Sundown in East Hartford opened just after Thanksgiving last winter, yet was forced to delay their opening until January 9. The wave of above average temperatures kept conditions too warm for snow-making, preventing the mountain from opening during ordinarily high business times.

Even mountains further north battled warm temperatures. Despite opening on November 24, Okemo Mountain in Ludlow, Vermont lost significant snow coverage due to prevailing rains in late December.

“Ski patrol was on the few trails that were open, shoveling snow from one side of the trail to the other so that people could ski down. Luckily, we made it through the rain spells and have built up a great snow base since then,” Okemo Ski Instructor Ilya Stein said.

Mount Snow in Southern Vermont struggled after opening on Thanksgiving day. As temperatures rose in December, snow melted into a slushy consistency, making skiing difficult.

“I was able to ski during December at Mount Snow but the terrain was very limited. There were only a handful of trails open, and the snow coverage was very minimal. As a volunteer for AbilityPLUS, a program that teaches people with disabilities how to ski and snowboard, lessons were limited if not cancelled,” senior Katie Rhee said.

The financial loss due to above average temperatures was also unprecedented.

According to Snow Makers, Inc., it takes roughly 75,000 gallons of water to create a six-inch base on a 200 by 200 area, not to mention the power consumption involved. Many mountains require full-snow coverage.

“It was heartbreaking. After seeing my home mountain with very little coverage, it made me wonder how much money the mountain town were losing due to the lack of snow,” Rhee said.    

As the winter continues, winter sports enthusiasts everywhere anticipate more winter-like temperatures and hope for natural snow to continue to fall.