GTA ski resorts have snow despite abnormal temperatures

Though Lakeridge has sufficient snow for its downhill runs, bare spots in the parking lot reveal the snow-starved reality at the resort. (AQ_Lakeridge3_021612)

John Tustian is still waiting for winter.

“What we really need is a blizzard. We need winter to happen, to get people in the mood,” Tustian said.

Tustian, director of outside operations at Lakeridge Ski Resort northeast of Toronto, says that natural snow only adds to the winter atmosphere on the resort. But ski resort operators have had to deal with lower than average snowfall this winter. According the Environment Canada, the Toronto area has only received 2.4 centimetres of snow this month (in February 2011 it received 45 centimetres). As well, instead of last year’s average maximum temperature of -0.9 C, this year it was +2.6 C.

According to Adam Stiles, CityNews meteorologist, the warm winter weather in southern Ontario is a result of the placement of the jet stream. He said the jet stream has been locked in the Arctic this winter

“We just haven’t seen the movement of the Arctic air that we would usually see in a typical winter season because of the placement of the jet stream,” Stiles said.

To combat the reduced snowfall, all of the alpine ski resorts in Ontario have world-class snowmaking technology, which means that even in warm winters, the resorts can operate. They have met their desired base for snowmaking, about 80 centimetres. All they need now are skiers.

Jack Lynch works for the Ontario Travel Information Centre; he does ski reports for local radio stations, such as 680 News. He said people living in the GTA occupy the largest market of consumers for ski resorts in Ontario, so when they aren’t motivated to ski, it has a huge impact.

“When you’re in Toronto, and you look outside and you don’t see snow, you’re not going to be thinking about winter recreation,” Lynch said.

Lynch explained that the operators of ski resorts hardly rely on natural snow at all. As long as the weather stays below -5 C, ski resorts can make all the snow they need.

Tustian admits that at Lakeridge it’s costly to make snow because it takes a lot of energy. However, he hopes that people will be more motivated to ski on the upcoming holidays.

“Our goal here is to make it to March break, so we can take advantage of what could potentially be a good revenue week for us,” Tustian said.