BENNINGTON — Barely a week after giving a gift of unseasonably warm weather, Mother Nature has reminded Southern Vermont residents who's in charge by bringing cold air and snow to the region.
And ski areas and winter sport enthusiasts who had their season delayed couldn't be happier with the arrival of cold air and snow right before the holiday weekend.
"It's going to be a white New Year's, that's pretty much guaranteed," Myra Foster, marketing manager for Stratton Mountain Resort in South Londonberry, told the Banner Tuesday.
Abnormally warm temperatures this month slowed much activity at Southern Vermont's four ski areas — Bromley Mountain in Peru, Magic Mountain in Londonberry, Mount Snow in West Dover and Stratton. The destinations reported having fewer trails open and some reported taking the time to do some housekeeping.
But things changed this week when Bennington and Windham counties received two to four inches of snow with temperatures in the 20s and 30s.
It's one step closer to conditions for having perfectly packed powder, which according to Foster are temperatures below 20 with low wind and humidity.
At Stratton, snowmaking started right after Thanksgiving weekend to make a solid snow base and nine trails were opened, Foster said. By Tuesday, 12 of 97 trails were open, each with a snow base depth of one foot. The mountain reported 92 of 160 acres of skiable terrain, and four of its 11 lifts, were open, according to the mountain's daily "snow report."
More trails along the 3,875-foot mountain are expected to open this weekend, with man made snow aided by natural snow, Foster said.
Three of Bromley's 47 trails were open this week, according to Marketing Manager Janessa Purney, with a few more soon expected to open. She said Bromley's learning center has opened for ski lessons and visitors seem to be having a good time. She said they're hoping for colder weather and more snow so they can open additional trails.
"This time last winter, we were already there," she said. "We had a lot of natural snow and it was cold for a long time."
As of Tuesday, Bromley had opened three of its nine lifts along the 1,950-foot mountain. Trails had a snow base depth between six and 15 inches, according to the mountain's daily snow report.
Warm weather led Magic Mountain, which relies heavily on natural snow, to delay opening any of its 43 trails until Friday. The ski area's website reported Tuesday four inches of snow at the mountain's 2,850-foot summit.
There were hopes snowmaking would start Sunday night, according to a post made by the ski area's Facebook page, but it was delayed because of a blown electrical transformer.
"On the bright side, this warm weather will allow us to complete our upgrades to the Shed Deck and the Black Line Tavern's refurbishment ahead of schedule," the ski area announced on its website.
Mount Snow's snow guns were producing powder until about 2 p.m. Tuesday and are expected to start again Thursday night, according to the mountain's snow report.
Mount Snow reported nine of 85 trails being open with base snow depths between six inches and one foot. Seven out of the mountain's 20 lifts were open. Four inches of natural snow had fallen near the 1,900-foot base and six inches near the 3,600-foot summit.
Contact Edward Damon at 413-770-6979