While the East Coast has been bombarded with a series of frigid storms, some so severe that the entire east coast has been referenced as an ‘arctic vortex’, the West Coast has been experiencing one of the most severe winter droughts in nearly half a century.
California specifically has been experiencing it’s driest year on record, with dropped snowpack levels at about 15% of the season average, causing skier visitation numbers to drop by as much as 45% from last year.
Due to this extreme drop in attendance, lift owners have resorted to offering some awesome offers to entice visitors. Some resorts are offering two-for-one ticket deals, $1 beers, and free snow tubing for season pass holders.
Resorts have also been trying to combat the lack of natural snow fall by producing artificial snow with snow makers, a very expensive investment costing each resort anywhere from $5-$15 million in equipment.
These snow machines are effective in keeping 80% of the primary runs open, however, for the more experienced riders, these primary runs aren’t cutting it; they prefer the challenge of back-country riding. However, getting fake-snow to the back-country areas is nearly impossible, leaving the experienced riders with a very ‘vanilla’ ski experience.
Although many avid skiers and snowboarders prefer ‘the real stuff’, they are definitely grateful for whatever the mountain can provide, whether it’s real or fake snow, because everyone is suffering during this drought.
Conditions have been so bad recently that the owner of Mammoth Mountain, one of California’s most popular ski destinations, has been forced to impose a 25% pay cut for all of the resorts year-round staff throughout February.