Ellicottville, NY (WBEN) There's not much snow on the ground as we speak, and the ski season is upon us. But snow is not the biggest concern for ski resort operators.
"Natural snow is free advertising for us, but we can open with man made snow," says Jane Eshbaugh of Holiday Valley, which will open Saturday with four slopes and three chair lifts. While waiting for the natural snow, Eshbaugh is hoping for some colder air, if not now, soon. "Forecasters who dare to make a prediction say the weather will turn around as early as next week and be colder than normal with more snow than normal, so I'll go with that one," says Eshbaugh. In the meantime, there's new technology to help make snow, when it's cold enough. "It makes it easier to make more snow in less time because with the touch of a button, we can turn the guns on and turn them off," explains Eshbaugh.
Over at Kissing Bridge, Mark Halter says the magic number is 28. "We like it to be 28 degrees or lower to make snow. We can make snow with higher temperatures, but the productivity and energy used really doesn't warrant the production," says Halter. He says he's not worrying yet, he will worry come the days after Christmas. "It's like having a weekend day ten days in a row. Kids are out of school, parents are off work. They're looking for something they do and we hope to have enough inventory of snow should they decide to pursue snow sliding activities," he says. Halter says that period holds the majority of the profits for the season. "We can open in January and have a good year, but to have a great year, you need Christmas," notes Halter.