By Shawn Russell, Staff Reporter
With fall temperatures still lingering for most of the Northeast, many winter sports enthusiasts are anxiously awaiting the cold to kick in and the snow guns to turn on at the mountains. Although the region has experienced a mild November thus far, the Farmers’ Almanac predicts another cold and snowy winter similar to last year’s, giving much needed hope to skiers and snowboarders alike.
“I expect it to cool down soon in time for snow guns and storms in December,” said Senior Simon Labbe. Labbe, an avid skier and snowboarder, hopes this year’s El Niño cycle will bring heavy snow to the region in the next coming months. El Niños, above-normal sea surface temperatures in the eastern and central equatorial Pacific Ocean, occur every two to five years. “If the El Niño cycle is a part of it and that means more snow later for warm weather now, I’m cool with it,” said Labbe.
Although Sunday River opened unusually early this year on October 19th, recent weather patterns have halted the resort’s snowmaking for most of November. During most seasons, the resort is open 7-days a week from mid-November onward, but this year is different than most. With temperatures staying above freezing in the foreseeable future, snowmakers will have to wait for mother nature’s cooperation before turning on the snow guns.
“Mother Nature has been tossing us some warm days and nights, and we’re looking forward at the temps over the coming week to make snow where and when we can,” said Sunday River in a press release. Sunday River hopes to reopen as soon as possible, giving optimism to skiers and riders throughout New England. “We are doing what Sunday River does best and making as much snow as possible, whenever possible. Winter is here, and we’ll be back to skiing in no time,” said Sunday River.
Meteorologists around the world are curious to see what kind of weather this year’s El Niño pattern will bring to winter. El Niño’s effects generally are most significant during winter months, but effects vary greatly depending on where the warm water is located. This year’s El Niño appears to be particularly strong, and predictions are indicating the country will receive above average precipitation. “Confidence continues to grow that this El Niño will be one of the strongest El Niños over the past 50 years,” said Accuweather Meteorologist Brett Anderson in a recent Accuweather news report.
Even though the warm temperatures can be disappointing for some, other students have been taking advantage of the warm November. “I’ve been skating just as much as I have been since the summer, which is cool,” said Andy Panagore, a senior ORBA major at UMF. Panagore, who works at Sugarloaf as a snowboard instructor during the season, is eager to see what December will bring to the table. “December is going to be cold but I bet we get some ‘pow pow’ because of El Niño,” said Panagore.
For those who are interested in skiing or riding at Sunday River and Sugarloaf, full-time college students can purchase a season pass for $359 thru November 30th. The pass works for both resorts, and comes with zero black-out days, as well as many other discounts and benefits related to the resorts.