Adaptation to climate change at Northwestern North Carolina ski resorts

From the local paper (Changing climates means changing ski season):

Snowfall in the High Country is around 25 percent less than the long-term average, according to data from local meteorologist Ray Russell of Ray’s Weather Center. However, local ski resorts only need to maintain cold temperatures for a successful season.

Kimberly Jochl, vice president of Sugar Mountain Resort, notes how the resort is constantly investing in new snowmaking infrastructure. In order to make artificial snow, temperatures need to be at or below freezing.

According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, average global temperatures have risen nearly two degrees from 1901 to 2020. Although temperatures have been changing, Russell notes, “They can put so much snow on the slopes on a cold day that it mitigates a lot of the problems of climate change.”

“It’s a real science, it’s a real craft,” says Jochl of the specifics in snow making. Even if temperatures are not freezing but the humidity is low enough, there is a factor called wet bulb, a condition in which makers can still be able to blow snow at temperatures slightly above freezing.

This season, Sugar Mountain was able to open on November 15 after 24 hours of cold temperatures and snow blowing. “Weather is our friend. We work with Mother Nature as much as we can,” said Jochl.

“It’s amazing how much snow they can make now compared to 30 years ago,” said Russell.

Jochl notes how the majority of this season has [not] been cold and snowy with some warm spells here and there. Overall though, Jochl notes how this season has been a success due to the cold temperatures allowing the mountain to blow snow.

According to Russell, one of the most significant climatological aspects that is changing is the “false spring” that has been coming in late February or early March, where a warm spell comes in and, in essence, tricks crops and plants into thinking it is time to bloom.

Even when there are warm temperatures, the resort still often attracts skiers and visitors.

“The climate makes or breaks a ski business,” said Jochl, adding that the team at Sugar works hard to “squeeze every snowflake out (that) they can each season.”

Although temperatures fluctuate globally, technology is advancing alongside it to keep ski resorts in North Carolina booked and busy.

I added the [not] above because this season has not been cold and snowy. Jeezus folks, that confuses the whole article. 

You can see the snow totals at Ray’s Weather

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