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

A pickleball debacle unfolds in Lake Country

Pickleball players and frustrated residents discuss the sport court

Lightning causes three wildfires east of Osoyoos

It is believed the fires started by a lightning storm

Kelowna man found guilty of second-degree murder awaits sentencing

A Kelowna jury found Steven Randy Pirko guilty of the second-degree murder in June

Kelowna cab driver charged with sexual assault

RCMP received a report May 28 alleging a taxi passenger had been sexually assaulted by a cab driver

Trial delayed for West Kelowna man charged with murdering his wife

Kevin Costin’s trial is on hold until the Crown and defence work out a few kinks

VIDEO: Young couple found dead in northern B.C. had been shot, police say

Chynna Noelle Deese of the U.S. and Lucas Robertson Fowler of Australia were found along Highway 97

Lightning causes three wildfires east of Osoyoos

It is believed the fires started by a lightning storm

Backhoe ‘burned to a crisp’ in South Okanagan

South Okanagan fire chief said the situation could have been a lot worse

Air ambulance called to second collision on Highway 1 west of Salmon Arm

Emergency crews respond to motor-vehicle collision near Second Nations Road intersection

Crash closes Highway 1 near Tappen

The collision happened about 3:30 p.m. by James Road

VIDEO: Man found dead near B.C. teens’ truck could be linked to a double homicide

RCMP said they are looking for Kam McLeod, 19, and Bryer Schmegelsky, 18, of Port Alberni

Latest plan is to fly trapped fish by helicopter over Big Bar slide

Multi-pronged plan set in motion to freesalmon blocked by landslide in the Fraser River

Controversial anti-abortion film to be screened in the South Okanagan

Unplanned will be shown at the Penticton Landmark theatre

Okanagan-based pop star Andrew Allen is back with a new band

Singer-songwriter Andrew Allen is bringing his new band home for a concert this Friday

Most Read