BIG BEAR LAKE, Calif. — The first snowfall of the winter season is not forecast until next weekend, yet Wednesday, there was snow on the hill at Snow Summit ski resort in Big Bear.
Justin Kanton said the resort began coating the slopes with artificial snow last week in preparation for Thursday’s opening.
What You Need To Know
- Snow Summit ski resort opened for its winter season Dec. 2
- Annual snowfall in Big Bear is shrinking by the year and ski resorts like Snow Summit are having to rely on snow making machines
- Scientist predict the Sierra snowpack could all but disappear in the next 25 years
- The Sierra snowpack could experience what they are calling 'episodic low-to-no-snow winters' in the coming years
This year, the ski resort opened a little late compared to its 2020 winter season which opened mid-November. Kanton said even artificial snow is contingent upon weather conditions.
“We have to have low enough temperatures, low humidity, preferably a little wind like today. Hopefully mother nature helps us out, too,” Kanton said.
Annual snowfall in Big Bear is shrinking by the year and ski resorts, like Snow Summit, have to rely more on snow making machines.
This is just another deleterious impact of climate change.
“From our prospective, manmade snow is more controllable and reliable,” Kanton said.
At Goldsmiths ski shop, Dallas Goldsmith is hoping this is not the last of their golden age. His family has successfully owned the shop since the 1980s.
As of now, they are on track for another busy winter season.
“But when I see [ski resorts in] Denver, Oregon and Utah not getting opened on time [due to no snow] it’s definitely a red flag in my mind," Goldsmith said.
The Sierra snowpack is a major water source for California, but that snowpack could all but disappear in the next 25 years.
Scientists from the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, who are working with a number of climate models, found the Sierra snowpack could experience what they are calling 'episodic low-to-no-snow winters' in the coming years. In addition, with the intensifying drought, Goldsmith believes there will eventually be less water to make artificial snow, ultimately trickling down to his bottom line.
“I do think we’ll evolve with it, but I do think it’s something that is real,” Goldsmith said.
So as the climate continues to change, so will the ski industry.
“It’ll effect the entire industry and so how we deal with that is what we’re looking to address now," Kanton said. "Moving forward whether that’s more efficient snow making processes, whether it's synthetic materials, different tools to make sure our snow last longer.”