While record-breaking weekend warmth and Monday’s light, steady rain melted the ideal skiing conditions of last week, Berkshire ski areas are confident they will return after Christmas Day thanks to the man-made white stuff.
"Given the [return of] cold temperatures, we’ll be able to recover quickly, rebuild our base, and be back to mid-winter conditions all across the mountain in a few days," said Matt Sawyer, director of Ski Butternut in Great Barrington.
The National Weather Service office in Albany, N.Y., expects night-time lows to remain at or below 20 degrees through the weekend, ideal for snow-making, according Tyler Fairbank, president and CEO of Jiminy Peak in Hancock.
"By week’s end, we will have people forget we had a spring thaw," he said.
Butternut, Jiminy Peak, along with Otis Ridge and Catamount ski areas in South County plan to be open the rest of the week, with most, if not all, trails open, according to the operators. Bousquet Ski Area in Pittsfield expects to be open today, but closed as scheduled Christmas Day to groom the slopes in anticipation of plenty of skiers through the weekend and into New Year’s Day.
"We’re not looking terrible, but we need to make snow," said Bousquet General Manager Sherri Roberts. "Typically, people don’t come out until the day after Christmas."
Despite the lack of a natural white Christmas, Roberts and her skiing brethren say the two snowstorms last week that dumped more than a foot of snow on the Berkshire hills gave them a head start to the ski season they expect to build upon for Christmas week.
"Skiers are really an optimistic bunch and know we can recover from the warm weather," she said.
Fairbank called the warm spell a "blip" on the start of the ski season.
"The early snow primed many for skiing," he said. "Our advanced bookings for our programs are already up from last year."
To reach Dick Lindsay:
or (413) 496-6233.