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Snow is scarce. But people are flocking to CT's ski slopes

Ayannah Brown
Connecticut Public
Mount Southington reports that skier visits have almost doubled in the past few years. This season, it had its earliest full opening ever: Dec. 28, 2022.

You’d think the warmer winter would be doing damage to ski resorts, but business is good at Mount Southington in Connecticut.

“We’re seeing all-time highs of participation numbers,” said Jay Dougherty, Mount Southington’s general manager.

Dougherty said a desire to get out of the house and find winter activities has increased tremendously since the beginning of the pandemic.

In the last few years, Mount Southington’s numbers have almost doubled in terms of skier visits. This season, the ski business was able to be completely open on Dec. 28, its earliest date ever for a full opening.

Dougherty said that in southern New England, the warm weather is always a challenge, and they’ve built their snow-making process around that.

He says while yes, the snow-making opportunities have been few and far between, they’ve been able to maximize the amount of snow they put down in a shorter period of time.

One challenge the warmer weather has presented to Mount Southington: the electric bill.

“Electric costs and water purchase have increased with the amount of snow that’s been melting,” Dougherty said.

Machine-made snow is denser than natural snow, and it’s more durable for the warmer conditions, so Mount Southington doesn’t typically have to run machines 24/7.

“It’s a warmer-than-average winter, but that’s why we never rely on natural snow,” Dougherty said.

He said many northern areas are used to relying on natural snow, but southern Connecticut ski businesses have never done that.

“For us, it’s constantly rebuilding — make snow, push snow,” Dougherty said.

This trend of higher skiing demand and attendance seems to be happening across the region, according to Adrienne Isaac, director of marketing and communications at the National Ski Areas Association.

She said that despite recent weather challenges in the Northeast, there’s been high demand from skiers and riders, and they’ve been able to keep up with it.

“When you couple that demand along with operational knowledge and millions of dollars in capital investment in your operation, you can have a more successful season, even despite those weather challenges,” Isaac said.