Though the calendar said winter began on Dec. 21, for Northeastern Pennsylvania ski resorts it started Wednesday with the season's first measurable snowfall.
The storm dumped up to 10 inches on some ski mountains and led to people lining up before the lifts began operating Thursday morning at Camelback Mountain near Tannersville, said Brian Czarnecki, vice president of marketing and sales at the Pocono resort.
Czarnecki offered some ski industry words of wisdom that Confucius would be proud of: Any week is good to have snow. A holiday week is great.
With the snowfall happening in the days between the Christmas and New Year's holidays, resort officials said more people are off from work or school and able to head to the mountains. The snow puts those people who might not have been planning a ski outing in the mood.
Until the marketplace gets snow in their backyard, they don't believe it's winter, Czarnecki said.
Camelback has been able to more than double the number of slopes open over the last week from five to 11, and the goal is to get to 17 or 18 by New Year's Day. That would be about half of the mountain's 34 trails.
Sno Mountain in Scranton will open today with six of its 24 trails. General Manager Mark Verrastro said he anticipates large crowds, as most opening days would draw.
The recent snowfall, however, will only drive up those numbers. People see it and it immediately gets them in the mood, said Verrastro. It's great for every ski resort.
Sno Mountain's opening will mean each area ski resort is operating to varying degrees. Only Big Boulder, which was the first to open in the state this season, will have half or more of its trails open.
Jack Frost, Shawnee Mountain, Ski Big Bear and Camelback will have almost half open, while Blue Mountain and Elk Mountain will have only a third – or fewer – open to skiers.
Heidi Lutz, a spokeswoman at Blue Mountain, near Palmerton, said the resort got 3 inches of snow Wednesday into Thursday and that is a perfect amount. Too much snow, she said, could cause people to get stuck in their homes or worry about driving conditions.
While Thursday was busy, she expects today will be even more so.
She said, We love when Mother Nature lends a helping hand. And she will continue to do so over the next week with temperatures at or below freezing most days – perfect weather for snow machines to continue to cover the slopes with the white stuff. And to help in the process, AccuWeather says 1 to 3 more inches of snow is expected for Saturday.
To see trail conditions at area ski resorts visit:
Big Boulder, Lake Harmony: www.jfbb.com
Blue Mountain, Palmerton: www.skibluemt.com
Camelback, Tannersville: www.skicamelback.com
Elk Mountain, Union Dale: www.elkskier.com
Jack Frost, Kidder Township: www.jfbb.com
Shawnee Mountain, Shawnee-on-Delaware: www.shawneemt.com
Ski Big Bear at Masthope Mountain, Lackawaxen: www.ski-bigbear.com
Sno Mountain, Scranton: www.snomtn.com