Record breaking US winter sees resorts close early

Drought and lack of snow hits tourist industry and production of hydroelectricity in California.

A record breaking winter in the US
Many parts of the US have seen too much snow this winter, but some ski resorts have not seen enough [AFP]

The winter of 2014/15 will go down as one of the most remarkable ever in the United States. Over the past months, we have seen heavy snow and record low temperatures across much of the country.

There have been floods at times, and despite the official arrival of spring there has been a noticeable lack of tornadoes so far. Out to the west, California is struggling with record-low snowfall.

Sugar Bowl is a ski and snowboard resort near Norden, California, along the Donner Pass of the Sierra Nevada, located 75km west of Reno, Nevada.

The drought and lack of snow has forced the resort to call an early end to the season.

Peter Avedschmidt, Sugar Bowl’s marketing manager, said: “Looking at skier count, looking at snowfall and conditions, and right now we’re still open from top to bottom … but we don’t have all of our terrain open and so you just have to close a little early.”

Nearby, Donner Ski Ranch is also being forced into an early shut down. All across northern California more than six ski resorts have now closed early, at least five weeks ahead of schedule.

The drought and lack of snow has inevitably affected the production of hydroelectricity. The snowpack in the Sierra Neva is about 12 per cent of the average.

Robert Weisenmiller, chairman of the California Energy Commission, says it will force the state to increase its use of fossil-fuel-burning power plants. They will also seek to import more electricity from other states not hit as hard by drought.

There is some rain forecast across northern parts of California this week. It will be heaviest around the border with Oregon where up to 50mm of rain is expected to fall.

There may even be a dusting of snow over the highest ground by Wednesday.

Forecasters are predicting that 15cm of snowfall is possible. Welcome as it might be, it will arrive far too late for many.

Source: Al Jazeera