Business

China Peak suffering from skimpy snowpack

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

California ski resorts are heading into the busy Christmas season missing one important thing, natural snow. Many are relying on snow-making machines to open with limited operations, including one resort in Fresno County.

Tim Cohee of China Peak Mountain says his resort wouldn't have opened November 19th, without the help of snow-machines. "If we were not making machine-made snow, we'd be joining a handful of ski resorts in California that would not be able to open for the holiday."

That's because of very little snowfall. So far this season, China Peak has seen only 42 inches.

"If you look at a year like last year, this is almost an exception in the other direction," said Cohee. "Last year we had 15-20 feet on the ground, now were sitting on snow almost all of it we made."

But thanks to cool overnight temperatures - he says the resort has been able to run it's snow guns almost every night for the past four weeks, producing enough snow to open a portion of the mountain to skiers and snowboarders.

Cohee said, "We've probably gone through right now about 15-20 million gallons of water, and that's probably going to put a couple of feet of snow on 5 or 6 of the runs."

Still, the start of the season is in stark contrast to last.

"We were hoping Mother Nature would kick in and help out a little more, but maybe later in the season."

Those that work in town say the skimpy snowpack has not only affected the slopes, it's been bad for business.

"It's been a major impact," said Linda Sinks. "It's usually really busy in here. People are usually getting a lot of equipment. As you can see that's not happening."

While the National Weather Service isn't calling for snow until after December 25th, workers here are hoping for a Christmas miracle.

"We'd like for people to come up, it's the holiday season, but I'm looking for snow," said Linda Sinks with the Hungry Hut. "For the first time in a long time, I'm actually praying for snow on the ground."

Snow on the ground, people on the mountain and shoppers spending money in their stores. In the meantime, skiers and snowboarders are taking advantage of the man-made snow, empty slopes and short lines for the lift.

Kathy Nielson from San Luis Obispo said, "It's nice not having that many people on the hill to run into you. Laughs."

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china peak, shaver lake, huntington lake, economy, business, linda mumma
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