After an early start to the season, Poley Mountain in Waterford, N.B., is closing up shop for a few days because of warm weather and rain.
But if you ask general manager Bill Anderson, it’s all part of running a ski hill in the province.
“This is New Brunswick,” he said. “They say if you don’t like the weather today, wait till tomorrow and it’ll be different.”
The forecast is calling for 13-degree temperatures and rainfall amounts of up to 35 millimetres. Anderson says they’ll lose some of the snow-pack the hill has built since they opened in mid-November, but added that these sort of temperature swings are becoming the new normal.
“That’s what’s happening with the systems in New Brunswick now is they peak,” he said.
“We get a day, you know, could be minus 20 today and tomorrow could be plus 10 and that’s just the way the trend is now in New Brunswick.”
But lurking among the quiet hills is a not-so-secret weapon that puts Anderson’s mind at ease: state-of-the art snow-making machines.
Alex Swartman, who runs the snow making operation, says that man-made snow is more resilient than natural snow and that when it’s cold enough to fire up the snow makers the crew can do a lot in a short period of time.
“You’d be surprised, you know, you get into some cold double digit negative temperatures and you can make a couple feet of snow in an hour,” he said.
“It comes down to a really, really good, hardworking snow making team and communication with grooming. You’d be surprised what we can do with some good temperatures in 12 hours.”
Swartman says the hill has been watching the weather system develop for the last week, and has even prepared for the rain.
“We have spots on the hill, we’ll make big 20 or 30 foot piles of snow and we’ll leave them for the rain,” he said.
“We’ll let it freeze up and then we’ll bust them open with the groomer and we’ll get the trials back open after.”
Anderson says he expects to be back up and running by boxing day, just in time for one of the busiest weeks of the year.
“Christmas and March Break are two thirds of your season. Christmas is a third, March Break is a third, and the rest of the year is your other third,” he said.
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