Warm winter temperatures hurting ski hillsWarm temperatures and little snow fall are hurting ski hills across Wisconsin.
By: By Maureen McCollum, Wisconsin Public Radio, Superior Telegram
Warm temperatures and little snow fall are hurting ski hills across Wisconsin.
Attendance is down at many of Wisconsin's ski hills that are fortunate enough to be open. If a ski hill in Wisconsin is open, it's covered in manufactured snow because there's been little natural snowfall across the state, most of which has melted.
Alpine Valley Resort general manager Bruce Firestone says over the last decade, they've planned ahead and invested millions of dollars into energy efficient snow makers. He says under the right weather conditions, workers are able to cover the runs in snow in a couple nights.
"The drawback to no natural snow is that it always affects how people get excited about the sport,” Firestone said. “In other words, if there's snow in the backyard on Wednesday then they think about it and come out Thursday or Friday."
Firestone says attendance has been off by more than 10 percent. Alpine Valley even had to close a couple days due to rain.
Crystal Ridge in Franklin usually opens around December 7, but still isn't open. General manager Terry Owen says the humidity from Lake Michigan and the temperature has prevented them from making snow around the clock.
Mount La Crosse general manager Darcie Breidel says making snow is an expensive venture.
"We're paying a staff to run 24 hours a day, not to mention the electricity and all that,” he said. “So, it is expensive to do, but it is a cost we'd like to be having now because we'd like to make snow around the clock."
Breidel says four of Mount La Crosse's 19 runs are open.
Managers recommend contacting hills for up-to-date snow reports.