Warm weather in New Brunswick forcing ski hills to close, increasing forest fire risk
Mild weather has left many areas of New Brunswick with no snow on the ground, leading to some sooner-than-anticipated winter closures and the possibility of an early forest fire season.
One victim of the unseasonably warm weather is Poley Mountain’s ski hill in Sussex, which was closed Thursday in the middle of the province’s March break for students.
Closing the hill once in a while because of mild temperatures is not rare, but it was also closed three days in a row last week due to fluctuating temperatures.
“You know we were here one morning [it was] minus-32 with the windchill. By the next morning it was plus-15,” general manager Bill Anderson said.
Anderson, who has been at the ski hill for about 40 years, said snow-making patterns are a good indication of how strange the weather has been.
“Normally we don’t make snow by Feb. 15, but this year we made 150-160 hours since then,” he said.
While ski hills are closing, golf courses are getting set to open their doors earlier than usual. The Carman Creek Golf Club in Fredericton is hoping to start letting people hit the links by April 1.
The lack of snow so late in the winter could have other drawbacks. There is less snow in forested areas, which is raising concerns about forest fire season.
Roger Collet, a forest ranger the Department of Natural Resources, said there is no danger right now, but the situation is completely weather-dependent.
“The fact that there’s less snow in the woods may impact it a little earlier, as long as we don’t get any other precipitation,” he said. “Rain can be just as useful as snow as far as preventing forest fires in this early season.”
Grass fires are also frequently a problem, which Collet said he does not understand.
“We’re really not sure why people like to do it,” he said. “I guess they feel it cleans things up, but there’s really no benefit to it at all.”
Anderson said at the ski hill, they have learned not to fight Mother Nature.
“We just have to do the best we can and we’ll keep making snow and we’ll see what happens,” he said.
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