While shoppers were out spending green, area snow resorts were busy this weekend making some white stuff.
Camelback Mountain near Tannersville, Big Boulder in Kidder Township, Elk Mountain near Union Dale, Blue Mountain near Palmerton and Shawnee Mountain near Marshalls Creek have all fired up the snow-making machines and have set targeted opening dates.
Others, like Sno Mountain in Scranton and Jack Frost in Kidder Township, haven't used their snow guns yet as managers waited for temperatures to remain below 40 for a few more days before the snow-making process can begin.
This week's forecast looks like decent snow-making weather.
AccuWeather.com projects highs in Wilkes-Barre at or below 41 degrees through Friday with overnight lows in the 20s. There is the chance for a dusting to as much as an inch or two of snow today. But a warm-up is projected starting Sunday and some rainfall in the forecast for next week.
For some resorts, the race is on to make as much base as possible so slopes can open soon, even if only for a while.
Big Boulder spokeswoman Heather Schiffbauer said the park could open a slope or two as early as Wednesday or Thursday. Blue Mountain is making snow on 14 trails and spokeswoman Heidi Lutz said the park could open by Saturday. Other ski areas are targeting next week.
Camelback has circled Dec. 7 on its calendar for opening day. Shawnee plans to open the next day.
Gregg Confer, general manager at Elk Mountain, said the resort has been making snow since Saturday, but the place won't open until five or six trails are in good shape.
The cool temperatures and snow in the forecast combine to allow snowmaking conditions and get the idea of skiing in the minds of potential customers.
We had a good year. Down a bit, but not bad, said Schiffbauer about last season, adding that unseasonably warm and snow-free winters in the areas that the Pocono resorts draw from impacted the totals. Those areas include Philadelphia, the Lehigh Valley and the New York City metropolitan region.
The late start to the season also didn't help.
By Jan. 17, not one of the nine ski resorts in the region had more than 90 percent of its trails open and only three had at least 80 percent open.
But a cold snap around New Year's Day was a huge boost, and resorts began making snow around the clock.
Mark Verrastro, general manager at Sno Mountain, said the resort decided to wait until a forecast cold snap in two weeks to start the process. He said the goal, as it is each year, is a mid-December opening.
Even though that was accomplished in 2011, Verrastro called the 2011-12 season the toughest I'd ever been a part of. He called it the season that wasn't.
While skiers patiently await the openings of their favorite slopes, resorts are looking to staff the lifts, equipment rental shops, food and other operations.
Thousands of part-time, seasonal positions are available, from ticket sellers to ski instructors.
While temporary, the jobs come with benefits such as free skiing.
We're ready to kick off our 49th winter season, but there are still job openings on our snowmaking team, as well as almost every other department. said Sherry Rex, vice president of human resources at Camelback. We have full-time and seasonal positions with free skiing and snowboarding for the employees, food and retail discounts and even perks for their friends and families.
Jack Frost/Big Boulder in Kidder Township is still looking to hire 175 workers to bring its complement up to 1,000. Sno Mountain still needs to fill about half of its nearly 500 positions.
Shops that sell ski equipment are also keeping an eye on the weather reports.
Sean O'Shea, manager at Country Ski and Sports in Wilkes-Barre Township, said Black Friday weekend sales were brisk and he's heard from skiers who are antsy waiting for the cold weather.
People are getting the itch, O'Shea said.
Today's possible snowfall could make them scratch more.
Check on slope conditions by visiting ski resort websites:
• Big Boulder, Lake Harmony: www.jfbb.com/snow-reports.html
• Blue Mountain, Palmerton: www.skibluemt.com/SkiBlue/conditions.aspx
• Camelback, Tannersville: www.skicamelback.com/Camelback-Mountain/Conditions/Daily-Conditions-Report.aspx
• Elk Mountain, Union Dale: www.elkskier.com
• Jack Frost, Kidder Township: www.jfbb.com/snow-reports.html
• Shawnee, Shawnee-On-Delaware: www.shawneemt.com/snowreport.html
• Sno Mountain, Scranton: http://www.snomtn.com/index.php/events/snow-report