Environment & Science

Warm weather a mixed bag for local skiing

A boarder sails off a jump at Big Bear mountain.
A boarder sails off a jump at Big Bear mountain.
Big Bear Mountain Resorts

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Unseasonably warm weather is pushing daytime high temperatures into the mid 50s at local ski areas. While some resorts have been able to keep most of their operations running, others are hoping for storms to dump snow on their runs. 

The Mt. Baldy ski resort in the Angeles National Forest had one of four lifts open Thursday. Workers there have produced enough man-made snow to cover only the resort's beginner hill. 

"We have to pray for storms to bring more snow," said Raphael Garcia, an employee at Mt. Baldy Ski Lifts.

California has had little precipitation this winter despite cold temperatures. A storm last week brought some much desired powder to local ski areas, but this week has been more like summer than winter, even at higher elevations. 

Some area resorts have been able to keep lifts open by making artificial snow at night when temperatures are lower. And they've been able to keep that snow despite the winter heat wave because the December sun is low in the sky. 

“The few hours of warm temperatures during the day, combined with this low sun angle – it’s just not really affecting us that much, not the same way as it would later in the year, in March or April, when the sun angle gets higher up in the sky, and it beats much more directly down on the snow," said Chris Riddle with Big Bear Mountain Resorts. 

Riddle said low humidity has allowed the resort to continue making snow even with higher temperatures. That practice is costly, however. A spokesman for Mountain High said it costs the resort about $2000 dollars an hour to make snow.

"We would definitely prefer temperatures in the 20's and two-foot snowstorms and all that kinds of good stuff," said John McColly, chief marketing officer at Mountain High. 

Bear Mountain and Mountain High report nearly all their slopes are open.