Monday, January 9, 2012
A warm and dry winter has California’s ski resorts racing to produce their own artificial winter whiteness. Forecasters say La Niña is to blame for the otherwise bare, brown slopes.
Snow depths in California's mountains are among the lowest ever recorded at this time of year. Only two inches of snow fell at Mammoth Mountain ski resort in December, compared to more than 200 inches last year.
Meteorologist Mark Moebe with National Weather Service San Diego said La Niña is in control.
“About 80 percent of La Niñas are dryer than average years, though last year was an exception to the rule. This year it looks however, at least through here the early part of January, the La Niña forecast for a dryer than average season is holding.
The prolonged dry spell is taking a big toll on the region’s ski and snowboarding industry. Last year San Diego ski enthusiasts were in powder heaven after a record-breaking snow season, but this year, the white fluffy stuff is hard to come by. That has ski shop sales heading downhill.
“We have seen a drop in people purchasing ski equipment and cold weather equipment for local resorts," said Pete Citrano, general manager for REI San Diego. A lot of our business has been people shifting toward buying product to fly outside the state to find the snow. But yeah, we’re sitting on a lot more inventory than we’ve had in the past."
California’s 27 ski resorts generated more than $3 billion dollars last year, according to the California Ski Industry.
Moebe said the summer-like temperatures are expected to return to normal this week, but there are no big storms on the horizon.