A warm weekend on Wisconsin's slopes

Skiers have to rely on man-made snow -- for now

Published On: Dec 02 2012 11:50:43 PM CST
MOUNT HOREB, Wis. -

Some ski slopes in Wisconsin are opening for the winter season, even though the temperatures are making it look a lot like spring.

With forecasts close to record highs in the beginning of December, Tyrol Basin in Mount Horeb is stocking up on snow whenever possible.

"Make as much snow as we can every chance we get," said ski and snowboard area manager Don McKay.

McKay said that when the temperatures drop below freezing (preferably less than 28 degrees), the snow machines cover the six runs he has open at Tyrol Basin. He claims on average that the snowfall is between 12 and 18 inches, giving it room to melt.

During the early season, which lasts until the end of December, Tyrol is only open two nights a week and weekends to keep wear and tear down on the tracks.

"Every time you groom the snow and prep it and have people out playing on it, that stirs it up, mixes in the warm air, and makes it melt faster," McKay explained.

McKay added that there is a noticeable difference between man-made snow and natural snow. He points out that most of the snow that comes from the machines is not the powdery consistency that some boarders and skiers might prefer.

"If you can get a couple inches of natural snow on top of a base, makes for great skiing," McKay noted.

McKay said the current temperatures shouldn't cause skiers who prefer natural snow to panic.

"One thing they say about Wisconsin winters," McKay said, "if you don't like the weather today, wait 'til tomorrow. It'll be different."