PRINCETON (CBS) – As David Crowley, Jr. surveys the family business, better known as the Wachusett Mountain Ski Area, his thoughts are occupied.
“Usually I don’t check the weather forecast,” he says, but this season he’s “been checking hourly.”
The few patches of snow on the ground here now are man-made. They were produced during those few cold days we had after Thanksgiving. But so far, that’s it.
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“Basically every window we get, we’re ready to turn on the guns and start producing snow,” Crowley adds.
In a perfect world, Wachusett’s trails would already be covered in snow – and skiers and snowboarders – by now.
“This isn’t unprecedented but it is frustrating. Everyone I run into is asking me how I’m doing, and if it’s just doom and gloom. But you know, we’re upbeat around here,” Crowley says.
That optimism isn’t entirely misplaced. Last December was also kind of a dud when it came to snow, but then after the first of the year, things changed quite a lot. Standing on his grassy and muddy base camp, Crowley almost struggles to recall how snow-covered this area was just a few short months ago. But he’s convinced those days will soon return.
“It’d be great if we could be open right now, but we have to take what we’re given,” he says.
Lost days in December, especially during Christmas week and the school vacation period, come at a significant economic cost. But Wachusett, like all ski areas in southern New England, is at the mercy of Mother Nature – and if she won’t do all the work, Crowley says, she can at least assist with low temps: “If you see any cold weather in the forecast, anything below 32, just assume we’re making snow.”
The goal is for a snowy spring to extend the ski season, so this resort and others like it can make up for what they’re losing now.
“Under ideal temps, we can open up a trail a day,” Crowley explains. “So it’s not hard for us to rebound here.”