(NECN: Lauren Collins, Franconia, NH) - It's looking like winter up north with snow capped peaks all around.
“We'll always take more but at this point,” says Cannon Mountain’s Greg Keeler, “all the major routes are covered, we're still making snow, so it's been great.”
But it's taken a while to get there. Business at New Hampshire ski areas is off an average 18-to-35 percent from last year, although last year was a record setter. The die-hards are as faithful as ever, but the day-trippers aren't in the mood because they don't see snow in their own yards.
“We've had three months of snowmaking,” says Ski NH President Alice Pearce, “and we've got great conditions. And with our ski areas covering 96 to 100 percent of their trails with snow making we've got the snow.”
That snow making is a huge expense that pinches a little more when skier visits are down. The next two weeks are school vacations in Massachusetts and New Hampshire, a critical chance for the resorts to make up some of that lost business.
“The February vacation weeks are an important part of our business even in a year when we've had strong visits all year,” says Pearce.
If hotel bookings are any indication, it's finally going to be a good couple of weeks. Reservations at Woodward’s Resort in Lincoln are level with last year
“Last year was a banner year for us so we are pretty fortunate and excited to be flat to last year,” says Woodman’s General Manager Renee Blood.
But it’s still tough convincing would-be skiers to the south that they'll find something on the slopes.
NECN Meteorologist Tim Kelley, skiing Cannon this week, says “it really depends on where you are but there is plenty of snow on the mountains. I was standing this deep in it yesterday,” he says as he points to the middle of his chest.
There is one bonus to a mild winter: a more pleasant run down the hill.
“’Cause when it's five degrees, it's miserable,” says snowboarder Kara George. “At least we can feel our fingers now.”