Saskatoon winter attractions holding out hope for snow amid warm weather

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Saskatoon winter attractions holding out for snow amid warm weather
WATCH: It hasn't been the start to winter most Saskatoon residents are used to this year with temperatures well above average. Global's Easton Hamm reports on how it's affecting some winter sports and how residents are feeling about it. – Dec 8, 2023

Saskatoon could be facing a brown Christmas as temperatures continue to stay warm, but local winter attractions are still holding out hope.

Natalie Hasell, warning preparedness meteorologist with Environment Canada, said if it were the summer right now we’d be calling this situation a heat dome.

“We’d be in cold days, maybe two or three days of cold temperatures, and then suddenly we’re in warm temperatures again,” Hasell said.

She said this is a trend that’s repeating itself.

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Hasell said even in the colder days we are sitting at higher than normal temperatures.

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“We’re not quite in wintry conditions exactly in Saskatoon at this time.”

She said we are in El Nino conditions.

“So we have warmer than normal temperatures in the pacific by the equator and because of the chain of low and highs that will be affected by those warmer temperatures, we will have warmer temperatures on average through most of the prairies, including most of Saskatchewan.”

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She said Christmas is a little far out for their forecasting abilities, but said one forecast that goes out two weeks continues to show higher than normal temperatures, adding that some of those days could see temperatures rise above zero degrees.

“People who want to do winter sports, who want things to freeze, who want snow so they can go skiing and sledding and so on might have to be patient a little bit longer because the next while does not look encouraging.”

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She said it was hard to speculate, but said she would be surprised if we got enough snow this winter to make the winter lovers happy.

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Local organizations are trying to make the best of it though, as Optimist Hill is set to open today (Friday) with three tube lanes and some terrain features.

The organization said the full park won’t be open, but they’ve had their snow machine working to get started.

Maxine Tebbe, general manager for Optimist Hill, said they were excited to have their grand opening, saying they’ve been doing a lot of last-minute work to get things ready.

“We’re still trying to get some features put out and built so that people have something to ride for this weekend,” Tebbe said.

She said they’ve been making snow since Nov. 22.

“We could really use some snow all around. We’ll take what we can get, whether it’s us making it or mother nature helping us out.”

Alan Otterbein, manager of design and development with Meewasin Valley Authority, said normally around this time of year they’d have much better ice at the Cameco Meewasin Skating Rink and would be able to open up any day now, but that’s not the case this year.

Alan Otterbein hopes to have their outdoor rink up and running by Christmas. Global News/ Slavo Kutas

“Obviously we’re not there yet,” Otteerbein said.

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He said they can’t flood if temperatures are above zero, saying the higher daytime temperatures are slowing down the freezing process.

Otterbein explained the flooding process, saying they had to put thin layers down over multiple applications, saying colder weather helps speed up that process.

He said they’d like to have the rink ready to go before Christmas, saying they’ve got the lights up.

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