After a month of frigid temperatures in the Rockies, an Environment Canada forecast for colder than typical weather in March is good news for ski resort operators hoping to extend the season with packs of spring skiers. Beat Feuz, of Switzerland, soars down the course during the men’s World Cup downhill ski race in Lake Louise, Alta., on Saturday, Nov. 24, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Frank Gunn

Canadian ski resorts upbeat despite extreme weather experiences this winter

The bitterly cold weather has been seen to varying degrees across Canada

After a month of frigid temperatures in the Rockies, an Environment Canada forecast for colder than typical weather in March is good news for ski resort operators hoping to extend the season with packs of spring skiers.

Meanwhile, in Ontario and Quebec, ski resorts are coping with high winds and snow this week after rain dampened activity for some over the key Christmas holiday season.

Through the first 24 days of February, mean temperatures at Banff National Park — home to Norquay and Sunshine Village ski areas — averaged minus 17.9 C, about 10 degrees colder than historic norms, according to Environment Canada.

The bitterly cold weather has been seen to varying degrees across Canada and resulted in unusually big February snowstorms in Vancouver and Victoria, said David Phillips, chief climatologist for Environment Canada.

He added March is also looking like a cold month.

“Clearly what that means is that the ski season will continue, with the attractiveness that the sun will be high in the sky and there longer, but the snow you’ve got now isn’t going to disappear,” he said.

In west Calgary, the Canada Olympic Park ski hill was closed for three days in early February because of skier safety concerns due to extreme cold, but it is heading for a season-long skier count at least on par with last year.

“Last year, we had a horrible Christmas holiday season because it was so cold and we had closures,” said communications senior manager Dale Oviatt.

“This year we had the great holiday season, and then this cold snap has certainly hurt us. We have to hope we get some warmer weather over the next five weekends that we’ll be open.”

He said COP budgets for 10 closed days due to weather per year. In Calgary, where warm chinook winds from the West can turn a hill of snow into a flowing river in a few hours, the closures are often because of warm weather, not cold, he added.

READ MORE: Back country adventure near Big White takes scary turn

Meanwhile, extreme winds forced Mount Saint Louis Moonstone, a ski area about 145 kilometres north of Toronto, to close on Monday.

The high winds from the west lasted a day and a half and raised concerns that the chairs could sway enough to hit the lift towers, general manager Robert Huter said. He said roads were also in poor condition.

At Mont Tremblant in Quebec, similar gusts forced the closure of one of its 14 lifts on Monday, said marketing director Jean-Francois Gour.

Both Huter and Gour said a busy Christmas period and good skiing weather on weekends suggest this season will be as financially successful as last year.

“This has been a really good season for us. We’ve been receiving more snow compared to the last year. We’ve had some rain, but have a great snow-making capacity,” said Gour.

Christopher Nicolson, CEO of the Canada West Ski Areas Association, said he expects this to be a “solid year” if the western hills are busy during March — his 92 member ski hills saw a record number of 9.5 million skier day visits last year.

“Most areas had snow for Christmas time, so that gave the industry a good start,” he said.

“The cold weather has certainly had some impact but hopefully it will be a delay in terms of visitation, while keeping winter top-of-mind in the urban markets.”

Both its western and eastern ski resorts are having an “amazing” season, says Matt Mosteller, senior vice-president of marketing and resort experience of Resorts of the Canadian Rockies.

He said the Calgary-based company is experiencing a significant increase in longer vacations from U.S., European and Australian skiers attracted by reports of deep snow at resorts like Fernie and Kicking Horse in B.C. and Mont-Sainte-Anne near Quebec City.

“February in Western Canada has been still strong despite the cold and that was most likely due to massive snow storms during this time,” he said in an email.

“The East was different and, while it experienced some rain, it mostly happened mid-week and snow would return for weekends.”

Dan Healing, The Canadian Press


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

Vandals break windows in Port Alberni heritage train cars

Damage in the thousands of dollars, says Industrial Heritage Society

Fire destroys mysterious travel trailer in Port Alberni alley

Port Alberni Fire Dept. security cameras capture start of fire

Port Alberni wants to bring back bed races for annual Salmon Fest

Veteran racer recalls thrill of racing a handcrafted bed through city streets

Semi-truck crashes on Hwy. 4 between Port Alberni and Tofino-Ucluelet

Drivers heading in or out of Tofino-Ucluelet Friday afternoon should expect delays

Port Alberni city council reveals 2019-2023 strategic plan

Strategies include revitalization, truck route, public safety

VIDEO: Langley Ribfest met with protesters

Groups that oppose the event for various reasons plan to be on site each of the three days.

Canadians killed in Afghanistan honoured during emotional dedication ceremony

One-hundred-fifty-eight Canadian soldiers died during the mission

It’s snow joke: Up to 30 cm of snow expected to fall in northeastern B.C.

Alaska Highway, Fort Nelson to be hit with August snowstorm, according to Environment Canada

‘I’m just absolutely disgusted’: Husband furious after B.C. Mountie’s killer gets day parole

Kenneth Fenton was sentenced to prison after he fatally struck Const. Sarah Beckett’s cruiser

Sea-to-Sky Gondola in B.C. likely out of commission until 2020

Sea to Sky Gondola carries between 1,500 and 3,000 people every day during the summer season

Helicopter-riding dog Mr. Bentley now featured on cans of new B.C.-made beer

Partial proceeds from every pack go to Children’s Wish

PHOTOS: Weapons seized at Portland right-wing rally, counterprotests

Not all who gathered Saturday were with right-wing groups or antifa

Ferries employees participating in Denman Island cleanup for plastic-shedding ferry

The cleanup comes a few weeks after one organized by residents of the Island

Discussion on grief and loss between Stephen Colbert, Anderson Cooper goes viral

The exchange includes emotional question from Cooper, and outlook on grief as a child

Most Read