An early season snow got the Midstate buzzing. Would this be a long, cold winter with more shots of plowable snow to follow?
December was a winter lover’s disappointment, with only a trace of snow officially reported at Harrisburg International Airport.
Along with no snow came warm weather, too, an early-season blow to the local skiing and snowboarding industry.
“We made snow back in November and early December, but then it got warm so we stayed off of it so it would stay on the hill,” Roundtop Mountain Resort spokesman Chris Dudding said. “Then, as soon as it got cold around Christmas, we started to push it out and use it again.”
A Climate Matters study shows that 38 states have seen the winter season shrinking, and this year seems to be another example of the winter season starting slow. This means the cold air is not around for long and there is not as much snow across the country.
Winter on average is the fastest warming season compared to spring, summer, and fall in Pennsylvania since 1970.
A 2018 report on the changing winter season and its impact on recreation shows nationwide, skiing, snowboarding, and snowmobiling make up a $20 billion industry.
During years with lower than normal snow amounts, on average over $1 billion and 17,400 jobs were lost.
So, when winter goes downhill, fewer people are able to enjoy the slopes.
To combat this problem, Roundtop Mountain produces as much manmade snow as possible when cold, dry air sets in. Last week’s extreme cold snap was a golden opportunity.
“We were able to make eight to nine inches of snow each night, so we can bounce back pretty quickly. Without snow-making, skiing in this region would not exist. It is all about snowmaking,” Dudding said.
Between snow-making and natural wintry weather, Roundtop continues to thrive despite the changes in our local winter season.
While winter may be starting slower on average, recent late season snows have been a welcome added bonus.
“We have had more natural snow in March, more snow making opportunities in March which are not always there,” Dudding said. “We have noticed the last couple of years, Marchs have been very strong. We are probably running a week or two weeks later than we have in the past.”
All in all, Roundtop is dealing with ways to mitigate any losses that could come from warmer than average weather or lower amounts of snow across the winter season.
A shrinking winter season also has a positive impact on industries that need to work outdoors and agriculture, too.
For now, we will continue to see some mild days over the next few weeks, but as mentioned before, late-season snow can still happen even as warm air tries to take over.
The winter recreation season is not over yet in the Midstate.