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

QUIZ: Test your knowledge of Victoria Day

How much do you know about the monarch whose day we celebrate each May?

Forestry Ink: BC and Canadian pulp industry doing better

Regular columnist Jim Hilton looks at what is happening in the pulp and paper industry

Cottonwood House Historic Site opens with limited service for 2019

Capital upgrades are taking place at the site, but it’s still open to walkers, hikers and picknickers

Quesnel kung fu dojo holds tourney

Three clubs exhibited their skills for family, friends and instructors

West Quesnel’s West Village Community Garden hosting Plant Day May 25

Community members invited to come help plant vegetables and learn about the garden

UPDATE: B.C. pilot killed in Honduras plane crash

The crash happened in the Roatan Islands area, according to officials

Raptors beat Bucks 118-112 in 2OT thriller

Leonard has 36 points as Toronto cuts Milwaukee’s series lead to 2-1

‘Teams that win are tight’: B.C. Lions search for chemistry at training camp

The Lions added more than 50 new faces over the off-season, from coaching staff to key players

Rescue crews suspend search for Okanagan kayaker missing for three days

71-year-old Zygmunt Janiewicz was reported missing Friday

B.C. VIEWS: Reality of our plastic recycling routine exposed

Turns out dear old China wasn’t doing such a great job

Carbon dioxide at highest levels for over 2.5 million years, expert warns of 100 years of disruption

CO2 levels rising rapidly, now higher than at any point in humanity’s history

B.C. residential school survivor’s indomitable human spirit centre of school play

Terrace theatre company plans to revive Nisga’a leader Larry Guno’s Bunk #7 next year

B.C. ferry stops to let black bear swim past near Nanaimo

Queen of Oak Bay brakes for wildlife in Nanaimo’s Departure Bay

Mother dead, child in critical condition after carbon monoxide poisoning at Shuswap campground

The woman was found unresponsive insider her tent and the youth was taken via air ambulance to hospital

Most Read