What started out as the warmest winter in 25 years -- and one of the worst for the regional snow-sport industry -- gave way to record crowds of skiers for local resorts over Presidents' Day weekend.
The holiday weekend, typically one of the busiest of the year, helped many resorts make up some of the revenue they lost during the first month of the season, when it was too balmy to make snow. The late start may have fueled the rush to the slopes, resort owners said.
"There has been huge pent-up demand," said Lloyd Williams, vice president of Wintergreen Resort in Wintergreen, Va., where snow-making machines have created 18-foot piles of snow on some parts of the mountain. Following three weeks of prime snow-making weather, Presidents' Day weekend was the most successful in the resort's 30-year history, he said.
At Wisp resort in McHenry, Md., 24 inches of snow fell in the week leading up to the holiday, luring skiers and snowboarders in droves on Saturday, Feb. 17, which turned to be the busiest day in the resort's history, said Lori Epp, the resort's marketing director.
"The warm weather is a thing of the past -- just a blink of an eye," she said.
The recent cold spell has allowed several resorts to stockpile huge mounds of snow, which may extend their season by a few weeks, but not by much.
"Past the third week of March, people move on to baseball, golf and fishing," Williams said. "Interest starts to wane a bit."
-- Kim Hart