Ski trails melted as weekend temperatures topped 20C in some areas

Ski trails melted as weekend temperatures topped 20C in some areas

Mild temperatures, wind and rain over the weekend took a toll on ski trails across Nova Scotia.

The North Highlands Nordic cross-country ski facility in Cape North, Cape Breton, lost 30 centimetres of base and went from having 12 kilometres of groomed trails down to one.

"Lots of hard work and dedication, for sure, melted away," ski-room manager Mallory Grover said Monday.

A co-operative network of privately owned weather stations across Cape Breton recorded a record-high temperature of 20 C for nearby Bay St. Lawrence on Saturday.

Ski in, walk out

A little further south in Goose Cove, the Ski Tuonela backcountry trails lost much of its 20 to 25-centimetre base.

"We have several luge runs now," said owner Chris Law.

While overnight guests were able to ski in to Ski Tuonela village on Friday night, by Sunday they found themselves walking the four kilometres back to the parking lot on a trail Law describes as "centre-line bare."

"The centre line is grass and mud, whereas the two tracks on either side are icy. So I wouldn't recommend that anybody try skiing for another 24 hours," he said.

Ski Tuonela and North Highlands Nordic are both counting on snow in the forecast for Cape Breton overnight to give their trails a reset.

"We bounce back pretty quickly, so we're grateful for that," said Grover.

Rain and wind

The province's three alpine hills with snow-making capabilities had the benefit of stockpiled artificial snow on hand, though all were forced to close over the weekend.

"It was warm enough to play golf," said Rob Carmichael, general manager of Ski Ben Eoin, which shares its hill with the Lakes golf course.

"We did get quite a bit of rain. The base area takes the most beating with all the water running off the mountain."

Wind was the strongest factor at Ski Wentworth, about 45 kilometres northwest of Truro, with warm gusts of more than 80 km/h on Saturday cutting through the snow in open areas.

"People don't appreciate how much impact the wind can have on the snow when it's that mild. It just erodes it, basically. You can almost see it going," said Ski Wentworth owner and general manager Leslie Wilson.

'Give us a few days'

Still, most in the ski business say a January thaw is par for the course in Nova Scotia.

"Realistically, we see this every season. We know it's coming, we plan ahead for it, and then we bounce back from it, no problems," said Ski Martock's Rosie Browning.

Ski Martock and Ski Ben Eoin reopened Monday, and Ski Wentworth plans to open Tuesday.

"Just give us a few days," said Browning. "Winter comes back."