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Castle Mountain Resort hopes to rebound from ski season cut short

CASTLE MOUNTAIN – Southern Alberta’s most popular ski resort is open for business, which is especially welcome news for powder enthusiasts.

Last season Castle Mountain Resort was forced to close in February due to a lack of snow and unseasonably warm temperatures.

“Last year was such a terrible year,” general manager Brad Brush said.

The resort closed for the season on Feb. 16, after only 245 centimetres of snow fell on a hill which usually receives around 900 centimetres during the ski season. The early closure led to layoffs and nearly 1,000 season passes had to be compensated.

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A lack of snow caused Castle Mountain Resort to close on Feb. 16, 2015. Dani Lantela / Global News
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A lack of snow caused Castle Mountain Resort to close on Feb. 16, 2015. Dani Lantela / Global News
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A lack of snow caused Castle Mountain Resort to close on Feb. 16, 2015. Dani Lantela / Global News
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A lack of snow caused Castle Mountain Resort to close on Feb. 16, 2015. Dani Lantela / Global News

This season’s opening weekend saw a return to the white conditions outdoor enthusiasts are used to. Brush described the top and mid-mountain snow packs as the best opening conditions the hill has had in three years.

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“It’s feeling great,” Brush said. “It’s like full-on winter conditions up in the bowls, up higher. Everyone is coming down with smiles on their faces.”

However, those who keep an eye on the weather see a trend that could threaten the ski season once again. The entire northern hemisphere is expecting a powerful El Nino this winter which causes warmer than normal temperatures.

“That’s a powerful global weather force,” University of Lethbridge professor of geology, Dr. James Byrne, said. “It certainly brings us very warm winters and that’s what we’re seeing this year, in this winter certainly.”

Brush has studied the weather projections himself and isn’t too worried about what an El Nino will bring.

Snowboarders enjoy very good early season conditions at Castle Mountain Resort. Blake Lough / Global News

“It’ll mean warmer than normal temperatures, but, only a couple degrees warmer. Last year was six to eight degrees warmer,” Brush said. “So, just being a couple degrees warmer almost makes it more pleasant for skiing. We’re expecting average to above average snowfall, but not below average.”

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