Let it snow, ski hills ask, as erratic weather takes toll

Snow, rain, cold temperatures, warm temperatures — New Brunswick ski hills have seen it all this winter.

Crabbe and Poley ski areas see a drop in numbers this winter

Crabbe Mountain has seen an assortment of snow, rain, and cold and warm temperatures this season. (Shane Fowler/CBC)

Snow, rain, cold temperatures, warm temperatures — New Brunswick ski hills have seen it all this winter. 

Now they're hoping a snowstorm will give them a lift.

Both Crabbe and Poley ski hills say they've seen a drop in attendance this year because of the ever-changing forecast.

"It's the nature of the beast right now," said Bill Anderson, general manager of Poley Mountain, 10 kilometres southeast of Sussex.

"We went from record minuses to record plus."

Both ski hills started off strong over the Christmas break, with a combination of natural and man-made snow packed on the slopes.

"We were flying [and] we were wide open for Christmas break," said Jordan Cheney, general manager of Crabbe Mountain, 54 kilometres northwest of Fredericton.

Temperatures start to fall

But throughout the holiday season and into early January, temperatures started to drop — and so did the number of visitors at Crabbe.

"People are a little more reluctant to get outside," Cheney said. "That –35 windchill made that –15 to 20 seem warm."

This profession relies so much on weather.-Bill Anderson, general manager of  Poley  Mountain

Then there was all that rain last weekend.

Cheney said rain makes things difficult for groomers, especially when it hardens the snow.

The rain has closed many of the skill hill's trails, including all of the tree runs.

"It shrunk the snow base but there was still full coverage," he said. "We're one storm away from being wide open again."

Right now, he said, 50 per cent of the trails are open, although Crabbe's website says only nine of 35 trails are open.

Like Crabbe, Poley Mountain has seen a drop in visitors because of the weather.

"We're waiting for another good snowstorm, and we'll be back up to 100 per cent."

Anderson said the rain took a lot of snow from Poley Mountain too. As of Friday morning, the skill hill's website reported  only six trails open out of 33.

"All of a sudden, bang, it's gone," he said. "It's money taken away because they've already made that product."

The ski hills will continue holding out for more snow. There is some snow here and there in the forecast over the next week, including about five centimetres expected in both areas on Saturday and more on Tuesday.  

"This profession relies so much on weather," said Anderson.