Eastern Canadian ski resorts wait for snow as it piles up out west

CALGARY -- A reversal of fortunes is afoot in Canada as the snow continues to pile up at western Canadian ski resorts while the grass is still on display on slopes in the east.

See Full Article

The conditions are in contrast to the past couple of years when warm winters wreaked havoc at many western ski resorts while frigid and snowy conditions in the east ensured hills packed with skiers and snowboarders.

Blue Mountain ski resort in Collingwood, Ont., north of Toronto, was all set for a Nov. 27 start date, but the snow just didn't show up -- and hasn't in other parts of Ontario and Quebec either.

"We were all ready for the 27th; nature was not," said Tara Lovell, public relations manager for the resort.

This year could be the latest season opening for the resort ever, said Lovell, pushing past the Dec. 26 opening in 2001.

Blue Mountain has responded by reopening some of its summer activities like the rope course, zip line and climbing wall while still offering its usual holiday activities like live music, fireworks and wagon rides.

"Santa is still there with or without the snow," said Lovell.

The conditions are in stark contrast to free-falling snow in the West.

"B.C. in general has had an unreal opening start," said Cynthia Thomas, communications manager for the Canada West Ski Areas Association. "It was really amazing we had so much snow in November because I think it really mitigated those fears from last season and helped people get over that and book for this season."

The heavy snowfall is being welcomed at Mount Washington on Vancouver Island, which was forced to close early the past two seasons due to lack of snow.

"The conditions have just been outstanding," said Don Sharpe, director of business operations for the resort.

Mount Washington has already had over 300 centimetres of snow in December, allowing it to open its more technical terrain after a two-year hiatus and attract more skiers.

"There are a lot of people out that have been holding off for a couple years, I think we're starting to see them all pretty pumped about what we have going on," said Sharpe.

In the Rocky Mountains, the snow is also falling fast to the relief of resorts like Castle Mountain that were also forced to close early last year.

And so far, Alberta's economic downturn doesn't seem to have had an impact on the ski resorts, with Sunshine Village near Banff, Alta. showing a 10 to 15 per cent increase in ticket sales, says Lindsay Gallagher, marketing co-ordinator for the resort.

She said more Albertans are staying closer to home this season rather than travel for vacation, helping to boost season-pass sales. American travellers taking advantage of the low Canadian dollar are also helping to boost attendance.

"We've seen definitely more Americans visiting, and over this Christmas break I'm sure we're going to see a lot of them coming up to take advantage of the 25 per cent off," said Gallagher.

With its high elevation, Sunshine hasn't had to invest in snow-making equipment, but Mount Washington is bringing in a few snow guns later this week as the start of a planned investment to make snow when needed.

Ontario and Quebec resorts have often had to rely on snow machines early in the season, and have invested heavily in them.

Mont-Tremblant, north of Montreal, has 15 runs open despite zero natural snow accumulation thanks to more than a thousand snow guns at the resort, said Annique Aird, vice president of marketing and communications for the resort.

She said snow machines cover 75 per cent of the runs, but to successfully make snow, resorts need temperatures to dip to at least -2C, or ideally closer to -5.

The weather forecast is predicting somewhat lower temperatures for eastern Canada in the next couple of weeks, but one of the strongest El Nino systems on record could mean warmer and dryer conditions continue into next year, said meteorologist Kirk Torneby.

"Historically speaking, it usually means warmer-than-normal winters and more or less dryer winters as well," said Torneby.

He said already Ontario and Quebec have experienced higher than normal temperatures thanks to the weather phenomenon, but adds that the effects are strongest between January and March.



Advertisements

Latest Canada & World News

  • New earthquake, magnitude 6.1, shakes jittery Mexico [Video]

    World News Toronto Sun
    MEXICO CITY — A strong new earthquake shook Mexico on Saturday, toppling already damaged homes and a highway bridge and causing new alarm in a country reeling from two even more powerful quakes this month that together have killed nearly 400 people. Source
  • NFL responds to Donald Trump's call to fire players who take a knee during anthem

    World News Toronto Sun
    HUNTSVILLE, Ala. — President Donald Trump says National Football League owners should fire players who kneel during the national anthem. And he’s encouraging spectators to walk out in protest. In an extended riff during a freewheeling rally speech in Alabama Friday night, Trump also bemoaned that football games have become less violent. Source
  • Soul singer Charles Bradley dead at age 68

    World News CBC News
    Singer Charles Bradley, seen here performing in June in Pasadena, Calif., has died according to a tweet from his official account. Source
  • New Zealand PM wins most votes but needs help to form gov't

    World News CTV News
    AUCKLAND, New Zealand -- Prime Minister Bill English's National Party won the most votes in New Zealand's general election on Saturday but not enough to form a government without help from other political parties. That means New Zealanders may need to wait for days or even weeks to confirm whether English will retain the top job as the various parties try to negotiate with each other to form a coalition. Source
  • McCain's choice: Ailing senator plays spoiler again for GOP

    World News CTV News
    WASHINGTON -- John McCain faced a choice that balanced friendship, party loyalty and his convictions. He made the decision some of his closest advisers expected. Looking at the twilight of his career and a grim cancer diagnosis, the Republican senator from Arizona who prides himself on an independent streak could not be moved to go along with a last-ditch GOP push to overhaul the nation's health care system. Source
  • New earthquake, magnitude 6.1, shakes jittery Mexico

    World News Toronto Sun
    MEXICO CITY — A strong new earthquake shook Mexico on Saturday, toppling already damaged homes and a highway bridge and causing new alarm in a country reeling from two even more powerful quakes this month that together have killed nearly 400 people. Source
  • Earthquake in North Korea briefly stokes nuclear fears

    World News CBC News
    A minor but mysterious earthquake in North Korea on Saturday, close to where the country recently conducted a nuclear test, briefly set off concerns it might have been caused by an explosion, though South Korean officials tried to allay those fears. Source
  • Donald Trump tells Warriors star Stephen Curry that White House visit is off

    World News Toronto Sun
    SOMERSET, N.J. — President Donald Trump says if a basketball player doesn’t want to visit the White House to celebrate an NBA title, then don’t bother showing up. Trump responded Saturday on Twitter to Golden State Warriors star Stephen Curry, who has made clear he’s not interested in a traditional White House trip. Source
  • 'Get that son of a bitch off the field': Donald Trump says NFL should fire players who kneel during anthem

    World News Toronto Sun
    HUNTSVILLE, Ala. — President Donald Trump says National Football League owners should fire players who kneel during the national anthem. And he’s encouraging spectators to walk out in protest. In an extended riff during a freewheeling rally speech in Alabama Friday night, Trump also bemoaned that football games have become less violent. Source
  • People flee homes and hotels as earthquake aftershocks hit Mexico

    World News CBC News
    Alarms sounded in Mexico City as a new earthquake struck Saturday morning, prompting people with fresh memories of this week's devastating tremor to flee homes and hotels. The quake was much weaker than the magnitude 7.1 earthquake that hit on Tuesday, killing at least 295 people and knocking down buildings across the capital. Source