By PAULA TRACY, New Hampshire Union Leader Staff
Thursday, Dec. 10, 2009
Nothing quite brings out the smiles around the ski industry as a big snow storm two weeks before Christmas.
Laboring in vain the past three weeks to cover miles of trails with 60 degree temperatures, the storm represented a huge boost at a crucial time to the state’s ski and snowmobile industry.
Ten New Hampshire ski areas were poised to open today with whatever they had from snowmakers until the temperatures sank and the snow began falling, yesterday morning.
The Christmas and New Year holiday often represents 30 percent of revenue for the year for a resort so the timing is excellent, operators said.
It is also a crucial time for businesses that rely on snowmobilers.
Gail Hanson of N.H. Snowmobile Association said dealers have seen an uptick in sled business with reports of this storm coming, this week.
“When it snows like this, everybody goes wild,” she said. “It’s awesome.”
Opening day for the state’s 7,000 miles of trails is scheduled for Dec. 15, but if there are more than eight inches on trails and six inches in the White Mountain National Forest, sleds are allowed.
“Snow brings a huge economic boost to the state,” she said.
However, wind was causing a problem and is expected to persist the next few days, according to the National Weather Service in Gray, Maine.
Meteorologist Dan St. Jean said the same cold front that dumped several feet in the Colorado Rockies will include westerly winds today gusting to 40 miles per hour, drifting, and some high elevation squalls.
Mount Sunapee in Newbury opened Tuesday, but had to turn skiers and snowboarders away from a powder day, yesterday, due to high winds.
“We cannot operate the Sunapee Express today due to the wind.” said Bruce McCloy, marketing director at Mount Sunapee. He said at 11 a.m. they had at least six inches on the ground with more to come.
“This weekend we expect to open South Peak top to bottom and the Sunbowl top to bottom,” representing 20 percent of the terrain.
Pat’s Peak is planning to open Friday.
Open before the storm was Bretton Woods, which turned its lifts over for the public on Nov. 14. It then closed, reopening Nov. 20th.
Cannon and Waterville Valley opened before the storm with limited terrain and were expected to have a significant increase in terrain available for the weekend, including nordic trails.