The warmer end of autumn keeps skiers away from the slopes, shops

One local ski resort was eager to open its slopes, but the unusually warm autumn weather kept the hills closed.

Camp Fortune in Chelsea, Que., had hoped to open by now, but its assistant director said they were several weeks behind schedule.

“We hope that winter comes, and we can start the ski season very quickly,” said Erin Boucher.

Camp Fortune’s ski season can start in the second week of November and lasts until the end of April. This year, it seems to open mid December.

“Our target, which was slightly delayed, is December 10. It looks like our new target is December 16,” said Boucher.

Boucher says with optimal snowmaking conditions and consistent sub-zero temperatures, the ski center can run up to 50 snow guns at a time and get its hills up and running in two days. (Celeste Decaire/CBC)

Ottawa has experienced some of the warmest temperatures recorded this fall, and even though it’s been good for extended terrace seasonit’s not great for winter sports lovers.

Camp Fortune says not to rely entirely on natural snow to run the hills, especially early on, because there are snow guns. What it needs, says Boucher, is consistent cool temperatures.

“Ideally –10 C, or cooler. We can do it at –3 or –5 C, but then when the day heats up you have to turn the system off.”

Boucher said they would start to get “a little nervous” if they didn’t get the weather they needed, especially with the year-end holidays being their busiest time of year.

The ski shop lulls

Kunstadt Sports, a ski and winter clothing store, said the impact was also being felt.

“We started the season really well with the cold weather, and in the last week or two with the warmer weather, we’ve definitely seen things slow down,” said Freddy Allport, Glebe store manager.

Allpont hopes that once the snow starts falling, equipment sales will pick up again. (Celeste Decaire/CBC)

Allport said December and January are usually the store’s busiest months and he expects sales to pick up again for equipment once the snow starts to fall.

Where are you, winter?

David Phillips, a senior climatologist at Environment Canada, says there’s no need to worry, winter weather is coming – though not anytime soon.

“We’ll see a few more days of apparently increasing temperatures and then we’ll get something close to normal,” said Phillips.

December in Ottawa typically sees more snow than rain, says Philips, with temperatures typically hovering around –2 C for daytime highs and –9 C for lows.

Someone lifted an umbrella into the snow while walking up the stairs.
A person walks onto Parliament Hill during Ottawa’s first significant frost on November 16, 2022. Since then, it’s been over five centimeters — and 16 straight days with above-zero temperatures. (Adrian Wyld/Canadian Press)

He said the region was hit by a wave of warm air from the United States that was not intense, but didn’t appear to be stopping.

“They just come wave after wave. One leaves and another comes in,” he said. “Of course, there’s no snow on the ground because the snow on the ground would cool those warm air masses. But there’s nothing cold.”

That is expected to change in the coming days.

“Starting next week, any kind of precipitation that we get will be white matter and not liquid. Temperatures will be comfortably cool but not raw and brutal,” Phillips said. The Canadian environment is seeing snow in its long-term forecast for Wednesday.

As for those hoping to hit the slopes in the area, he says the time will come.

“Just because it’s not freezing now doesn’t mean it will be closed this winter. [There’s] plenty of time to turn cold to snow.”

Hadwin Floyd

"Coffee enthusiast. Hipster-friendly social media fanatic. Certified zombie expert. Problem solver."

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