EYEWITNESS LOCAL NEWSSNOW BUSINESS
from Eyewitness News Online
Mild Winter Is Bad For Snow Business, Good For Others
Reported by: Ashley Smith
Videographer: John Tincher, Matt Durrett
Web Producer: Ashley Smith
Reported: Feb. 8, 2012 9:32 AM EST
Updated: Feb. 8, 2012 10:22 AM EST
Snowshoe , West Virginia
Sun, sandals, and snow? It’s been a mixed bag of weather this winter in the Mountain State. With record setting warmth in both December and January, snow has been very scarce especially in the lowlands. But that mixed bag of weather also brings mixed reactions.
“I think we've been blessed!” said Tyson Corley of Spring Hill, “I'm lovin it!”
“It was disappointing not to have as much snow,” said Kim Silvernagel of Patuxent River, Maryland, “There just hasn't been any to enjoy so I'm hoping it keeps snowing.”
There’s no reason to fly south to find the warmth this year.
You hear people talking about moving down south for warmer weather but it seems like it came to us!
Tyson Corley has been hitting the links all winter long. And he’s not alone.
“It's been wonderful, for instance yesterday we did more business than we did all of last winter,” said Shawnee Park Golf Course Manager Jeff Bryant.
But while this warm weather has been nice for some businesses, it hasn’t for others.
Skiing is an estimated quarter-billion-dollar industry in West Virginia. An industry that relies on Mother Nature and Old Man Winter to bring in the big bucks.
“Skiing on the east coast is always a roll of the dice you just have to pray to mother nature and hope for the best,” said Snowshoe Vice President of Marketing and Sales Mark Glickman, “We're all optimists in this business, we know it's going to get cold and when it does we know we can make a lot of snow.”
“This year's been a struggle compared to the last two winters. The weather hasn't been consistent for snow making,” said Snowshoe Director of Ski Operations Dave Huber, “we're about 86% open.”
Dave Huber is the Director of Ski Operations at Snowshoe Resort and is largely in charge of the snow making routine on the 244 acres of ski slopes. As you might imagine, he’s been very busy this year.
As of February 1st, Snowshoe has received 70 inches of snow. That’s about half of what they usually get by this point. With less natural snow, the resort is making more snow than usual. That’s an investment that doesn’t come cheap.
“We have invested millions upon millions of dollars in the last decade on snow making and keeping up to speed on that for years like this,” said West Virginia Ski Areas Association Spokesperson Joe Stevens.
Warm weather caused a delay in opening the resorts which has cost the industry some of their normal profit.
“For the delay in opening we're still down about 10%, we've made up some numbers,” said Stevens.
Fewer people hitting the slopes also means fewer people buying skis, boots, snow gear, and even gloves.
“It's a little slow right now,” said SportMart Assistant General Manager Buddie Clendenin.
Clendenin says discounts at Sport Mart in Charleston have been offered up earlier this year than in the past. Another sign of bad snow business.
So where’s winter? Taking a look at the big picture this was the setup last year: with a high pressure center parked over Greenland that was bringing the cold air and snow south into our area. This year, the high is not there which means the frigid air is moving west to east and isn’t making it quite as far south as it was last year.
The result is record warmth and not a lot of snow.
While most of us are enjoying the mild winter in our neighborhoods, you don’t have to go very far to find a winter wonderland in Snowshoe.
“That is our biggest challenge right now is convincing people in the metro areas that the daffodils are blooming in January and February and there's snow on the mountains,” said Stevens.
“There's still skiing out there you just have to get away from this nice valley weather for golf and get into the ski resorts and ski,” said Clendenin.
So if you are a winter weather lover, there are plenty of places to get your gear and hit the slopes without going too far.
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