B.C. ski resorts hope for whiter winter amid low snowfall

Many ski resorts on the south coast of British Columbia are still praying for snow, following one of the worst starts to the season in recent years.
Ski resorts on B.C.'s South Coast are having one of the worst seasons in recent years 2:05

Many ski resorts on the south coast of British Columbia are still praying for snow, following one of the worst starts to the season in recent years.

Brent Curtain of Vancouver Island's Mount Washington Alpine Resort says ski runs remain closed because there's only about 20 centimetres of snow at the mid-mountain baseline compared to the 350 centimetres it had last year.

He says the resort normally boasts upwards of 4,000 daily visitors but only a fraction of them are paying for the mountain's tubing and sliding areas.

Some of the runs at Mt. Seymour were still closed over the weekend. (CBC)

Officials at Mt. Seymour on Vancouver's North Shore, where three of the main lifts are closed, say they could also use a whiter winter. Spokeswoman Emmalee Brunt says business over the Christmas holidays usually brings in 20 per cent of the mountain's revenue, and the lack of snow has dealt that number a blow.

Officials from both mountains say it's still too early to talk about how the lack of snow will affect season-pass holders, and they are hoping a few storms will change business for the better.

At Cypress Mountain in West Vancouver, the downhill runs are open, but the Nordic ski area has yet to open for the season. Snow guns have helped keep Grouse Mountain open, but the high-speed quad chair was not expected to be running on Monday.

Whistler well below average

Whistler Blackcomb is fully open, but with only 89 centimetres of snow on the ground, the resort's snow machines have been working hard to keep the runs open over the Christmas break.

So only 186 centimetres of snow has fallen at the resort in total this year, well below the 470-centimetre average for the end of December at the resort.

Nearby on the Nordic trails in the Callaghan Valley it isn't much better. Biathlon B.C. Coach Glen Ruperts says the team is training on the limited terrain that's open at Whistler Olympic Park

Rupert say cross country skiers can get away with just 15 to 20 centimetres of snow, but they would rather have more.

"We're making do with what there is. I'm definitely not skiing on my best pair of skis that's for sure," said Rupert.

This season the biathlon team has already made three trips within the province to train in better conditions. Most years they only make one.

"The athletes have to ski. That's why we're making the best of it. They have to ski or the season would be a write off."

Still Rupertus says it's "better than summer."

Cold front not cold enough

A weak cold front will  bring light rain Monday evening and through the overnight for Vancouver, says CBC meteorologist Johanna Wagstaffe.

But it will not be cold enough for any real local mountain accumulations. Instead, temperatures for B.C.'s South Coast will remain around 7 C or 8 C all week long.

Look for a mainly overcast Tuesday and Wednesday before light rain moves back in for Thursday. By the end of the week, Vancouver should get some good sunny breaks.

If you are wondering where all the B.C. snow is, you will have to head north. Environment Canada's "snow on the ground" numbers are impressive:

  • Dease Lake: 83 cm
  • Stewart: 74 cm
  • Fort St. John: 70 cm
  • Fort Nelson: 67 cm
Light rain and warm temperatures are forecast for Metro Vancouver this week, says CBC meteorologist Johanna Wagstaffe. (CBC)

With files from The Canadian Press


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