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Warm Weather Presents Challenges for Snowmakers

AFTON, Minn. (WCCO) — At the Afton Alps ski hill, you would think winter has arrived in full force.

It’s not because of Mother Nature, it’s because of snow makers like Ken Speltz. Speltz and many others are working hard to keep runs packed with fresh powder and said it’s been “challenging.”

“The unseasonably warm temperatures the late start, it’s been a tough struggle to get things open,” said Speltz.

While the rest of Minnesota is enjoying the warm weather, Speltz and others are busy grooming runs. The above freezing temperatures are also causing a problem. Snow making has to be put on hold until the temperature goes back down.

“We need it to be between 29 or 30 before we can get started again,” said Speltz.

NewsRadio 830 WCCO’s Edgar Linares Reports

Speltz and his crew are usually done making snow by the middle of January. He said this year it’s going to be more like February. Also the cost to run all 76 of their snow guns is expensive.

The manager at Afton Alps said business is down 25 percent because of the warm weather.

“The skiing is good but the numbers are a little shy,” said Amy Reents, Afton Alps manager.

She said many skiers are holding off until there’s a good amount of accumulation.

“A lot of people when they’re in their yard and its 50, and their grass is still partially green… you just don’t think of it as a time to go skiing,” said Reents.

Reents said last year’s snowfall was the best they’ve had in ages.

“Last year was definitely not the norm either. We’ve had both ends of the spectrum here now,” said Reents. “We enjoyed the fruits of mother nature last year.”

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