Agriculture, Central New York, Consumer, Environment, Sports, Weather

Hitting the Last Slopes of the Season

Skiers at Song Mountain are taking, potentially, their last runs of the season. (c) 2018 Chelsea Siegal

Click here to see my report on the 2017-2018 Central New York ski season:

Audio Transcript: Ski Season Transcript

By Chelsea Siegal TULLY, N.Y. (NCC News) — Even with the four nor’easters in March, spring is finally arriving – and so is the end of skiing in Central New York.

Song Mountain and Labrador Mountain, two popular skiing destinations in the Central New York area, opened the 2017 season on December 1, said Peter Harris, owner and operator of the mountains.

Harris said they were able to be 100 percent open since late February, but December and January consisted of artificial snow-making – almost 400 hours of it, to be exact. A typical good year for Song and Lab is being open for about 95-100+ days. The mountains are already at 93 days since they opened.

While snow making is expected in the beginning of the season, Harris has the snow guns going whenever they’re needed, saying the ideal weather for skiing is 18 degrees and sunny.

“The ski business is impacted by the weather 100 percent,” Harris said. “It can be too warm; it can be too cold. It can be too snowy; it can be too rainy.”

Drastic weather changes can quickly alter the attendance of a ski mountain. Even if the City of Syracuse is buried in snow, that won’t necessarily mean the mountains are strongly covered, and vise-versa. So, if residents don’t see any snow on the ground, they might not think to go skiing that day. Additionally, the time of year will affect the business of a mountain. During holiday weeks and most weekends, both mountains can get a total of 3,000 skiers and boarders.

Skiers are feeling the effects of this weird snow pattern at mountains in Central New York and the Catskills as well.

Matt S., an avid skier who went skiing multiple times this season at various mountains, said he instantly could feel the effects from the weird weather. He phrased it as “the tale of two seasons: the season before March and the season after March.”

“Most of the season was pretty terrible, and you might question whether these regions will continue to sustain a skiing industry due to their lack of snow,” Matt said. “But then when the sequence of storms started in March, we had as good conditions as you can expect for the area.”

Matt drove to Vermont a few times throughout the season and said they also had weird weather.

“I went out there three times and they were 100 percent open, and in between those times they were virtually 50 percent open,” he said. “You have a lot of these [ski mountains in New York] on the verge of collapse, and they’re saved by these windfall events. But how much longer can that sustain the situation?”

Matt heard of mountains like Wyndham following the model of Camelback Mountain: making the resorts year-round vacation destinations by opening water parks and ropes courses. The purpose of this, he thinks, is because these resorts have a “frigid” view of the future and need to make money.

Despite the nor’easter, Song and Lab aren’t able to project how much longer they will stay open. From now until the end of the season, both mountains are offering $10 tickets for the whole family as an end-of-season deal.