The light layer of snow Thursday morning was a blessing for ski resorts in Central New York, but it may be too soon to tell how much skiing will take place this weekend.
Song Mountain Resort opened to skiers Thursday, preparing for what is typically a busy week of Christmas.
“Wednesday night we had a nice lake effect burst — we love lake effect snow — we got maybe 3 inches of snow,” said Peter Harris, owner and operator of Song Mountain Resort ski center in Preble and Labrador Mountain ski center in Truxton. “Once the ground is white, everybody starts thinking about skiing — just having a white surface around the local area really helps.”
But a few inches of snow won’t be enough.
“We need way more than that — you really need a couple of feet — but man-made snow is more durable than natural snow, so the key is to lay down a big blanket of manmade snow on the mountain and then let the lake effect kind of cover that up,” Harris said. “That makes for some really good skiing and snowboarding.”
Like Song Mountain, employees at Greek Peak Mountain Resort in Virgil have been hard at work running the snowmaking machines, said Marketing Manager Hannah Bistocchi.
“The snowmaking is really what’s saving us right now — that, and Mother Nature has really helped us out a lot today,” Bistocchi said Thursday. “The weather has been a bummer, but we’ve been adjusting. We have a great following here at Greek and we’re very appreciative of our customers.”
Song Mountain employees were working to make more snow Thursday morning, hoping to lay the groundwork before the temperature rises again this weekend.
“It doesn’t look like there are any major snowstorms on the horizon, in fact, on Christmas Day it’s actually going to be raining,” said Bryan Greenblatt, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Binghamton.
Greenblatt’s forecast for Central New York showed temperatures in the mid-to-upper-30s throughout next week. The ski resorts’ snowmaking machines typically need temperatures in the mid-to-low-20s.
“It’s supposed to warm up, so we’ll have to shut down our snowmaking and then on Christmas we’re closed, but we’ll reopen Sunday,” Harris said. While Song Mountain is open 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Labrador Mountain’s hours of operations will be weather-dependent.
Harris suggests any hopeful skiers visit www.skiCNY.com for the daily ski report. Visitors will need to wear masks whenever inside the resort buildings, but masks are not required when outdoors.
Although the start to the new year looked discouraging, Bistocchi said she hopes the weather picks up and keeps the momentum going. As the season gets started, Greek Peak, Song Mountain and Labrador Mountain are all looking to fill a variety of openings, including lift mechanics and operators, restaurant staff and snowmakers.
Greek Peak will be open Christmas Day, and starting Sunday its hours will be 8:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. for skiing. The resort also plans to host a New Year’s Eve celebration, featuring a torchlight parade, fireworks, live music and a variety of food options.
Harris said his new mantra is “indoors is out, and outdoors is in.”
“We didn’t expect COVID to be here again this winter, but we got through it last winter and this is the perfect sport to do because you’re outdoors and distanced,” Harris said. “Skiing and snowboarding is a wonderful sport for the whole family, and it’s a recreation that you can do well into your 90s.”