El Nino to affect local ski areas

HOUGHTON — Weather experts are predicting a warm winter.

With ski season just around the corner, and very little snow to ski on, many are wondering how this unusually warm weather will affect local ski areas.

Weather reports are predicting what’s called an El Niño. Historically, this has meant higher temperatures and less precipitation.

The last El Niño experienced in the midwest was in 1998. That year, Mont Ripley only had a 30 day ski season. The 1998 El Niño was the main reason why the ski area created a snow making system.

Mont Ripley General Manager Nick Sirdenis said, “I’ve never seen winter not come, o it will come. It just is sometimes it comes a little later. The snow guns are all out waiting for the weather. We make a very high quality type of snow. We have the greatest water in the world for making snow…Lake Superior and the canal.”

Since they started making snow themselves, Mont Ripley’s average ski season has nearly doubled from 56 days to 108.
There may be an advantage of being a ski are so far North during the El Niño year.

Sirdenis said, “We probably will have better chance of seeing snow making temperatures and snow than our competitors in the South. Sometimes I’ve seen where people can’t get their skiing in down South so they come North.”

For those who might not see snow in their area, that doesn’t mean you can’t go skiing. There are many ways to check the weather and conditions at Mont Ripley.

Sirdenis said, “Or website number one [www.SkiMontRipley.com] Our snow conditions are on there… we have a Facebook page. And we have 2 weather cams that you can actually see what’s happening at the moment. So if you don’t trust what we’re saying you can see it for yourself.”

It seems that, despite the El Niño year, Mont Ripley is ready to deliver another great ski season in the Copper Country.