Swiss Valley slopes deal with unseasonably warm weather
JONES, Mich. Record warmth, sparks concerns for local businesses that rely on the snow.
Although it doesn’t necessarily feel like winter or the day after Christmas, officials at Swiss Valley Ski and Snowboard Area want the public to know they're open for business and ready to adapt to the unseasonably warm forecast.
“I know people are surprised but we’re not because we work hard to make sure we can be open and skiing and snowboarding. It is December,” Jamie Stafne, the Swiss Valley Ski and Snowboard Area Manager said.
The "Window sill factor" is a problem Stafne said ski areas everywhere face.
“People wake up and even if they thought about skiing or snowboarding, they have a tendency to if there’s no snow on their window sill, they think there can’t be any snow in the world,” She said.
And even with the warmer temps, she said they plan for the influx of weather.
“Winters have been inconsistent and we need to adjust to that,” she said. “Our skiers need to remember; just because they don’t have snow in their yards doesn’t mean Swiss Valley doesn’t have it.”
But what goes into making and maintaining the snowy slopes?
“We worked on our base last week when we had the cold temps. We made snow, lots of it. We’re skiing that snow today,” Stafne said. “A great environment for snow making is cold temps and low humidity and we had that.”
The Swiss Valley snow-making crew is tasked with shifting the snow guns and packing the powder down to a base of 16 inches.
And unlike the snow that falls in your yard, Stafne said “it doesn’t melt as fast because it is packed down.”
Although it's pretty warm, the slopes saw about 200 to 300 people Thursday, some even wearing short sleeves and shorts.
“We’re having fun and skiing,” Shaun, Katie, Kelly O’Donnell said. “I’ve been skiing for probably 30 years and this is the warmest I’ve ever skied. So I brought the girls to experience it too. Hopefully we have enough snow to keep doing this.”
“We’re just here to enjoy the weather, schools not in session right now so it’s 60 degrees out and the snow is soft,” Nathan and Max Middlebrook said.
“We love this place, lot of memories and we’re making memories as we ski today,” Shaun, Katie, Kelly O’Donnell said.
Swiss Valley officials tell ABC57 they hope to make some more snow next week. But the temps have to be at 28 degrees or below to even make the snow.