When the coronavirus spread across the U.S. in March, spring ski vacations were cut short as resorts quickly shuttered their operations in response to the pandemic. As this year's ski season fast approaches, resorts are working hard to ensure that guests can stay safe, while closely watching forecasts to see how much snow the winter will bring.
From the Cascade Mountains in Washington state, through the northern portion of the Rockies and into the Northeast, ski resorts should be cautiously optimistic that La Niña will bring abundant snow this winter. The season is off to a promising start in terms of snow. Just last week, a number of Colorado ski resorts saw 10+ inches of snow, and combined with recent snowmaking efforts, Keystone Resort opened last weekend. The first resort in the country actually opened on October 21 in Minnesota, helped by a record October snowfall and an extended period of below-normal temperatures.
This is good news for ski resorts, part of the $20 billion U.S. ski industry. The National Ski Areas Association reported a loss of at least $2 billion last winter because of the pandemic and estimates the number could increase to $5 billion if skiers continue to stay home this season. By taking extra health and safety measures, such as limiting the number of skiers, physically distancing in lift lines and requiring masks, combined with forecast of a colder and snowier winter, ski resorts are hoping to lessen the financial impact.