Ski centers wrestling with weather 180s
By Jay Braman Jr.
Most people in the region know that when the thermometer goes down into the single digits, it means higher home-energy bills, but for area ski centers, really cold weather means money.
That’s because they make snow, not heat.
Snow making, which has become more and more important to ski areas as climate change messes with natural snowfall totals, can be an expensive process.
At Belleayre Mountain, General Manager Tom Tar says snowmaking is one of the biggest expenses Belleayre has. He would not say specifically what it costs, but did say that he was happy with the recent blasts of super cold that dropped in from the arctic.
“The colder it is the cheaper it is to make snow,” he said.
The diesel powered machinery just doesn’t have to work as hard to churn out the flakes, Tar said, adding that Belleayre cranked everything up starting late last week with the first wave of single digit/subzero temperatures.
The cold is a double edged sword. Tar said it kept some skiers away this past weekend.
He described overall attendance this season as being good though.
Due to such a good job with snowmaking and having been blessed with a couple bountiful natural snowfalls, Belleayre was unaffected by the unseasonably warm temps that came between the cold snaps.
Not worried about snow
“As far as losing snow, we’re not concerned,” he said on Monday when the temps were in the 40s. “We even have snow in the woods between trails up here.”
Over in Roxbury, Plattekill Mountain is faring just as well.
Sixteen inches of new, natural snow blending in with snowmaking allowed operators Lazlo and Danielle Vajtay to open up 36 trails for this past weekend.
Conditions were so good at Plattekill last weekend that Harvey Road, a writer at nyskiblog.com, wrote up a report on his birthday visit to the Vajkay’s facility on Friday.
“The longer I live and the more I ski, the more I know that there is no place like Plattekill,” Road wrote. “Skiing that beautiful snow with no competition, and sharing a beer at day’s end, was the perfect birthday gift for me.”