TRAVERSE CITY — The heavy snowfall and cold weather that elbowed its way across northern Michigan means more than just headaches for commuters and shivers for Black Friday shoppers.
It’s also a blessing for the ski industry.
Piles of fresh snow that continued to fall Monday across northwest Michigan helped catapult area ski slopes to one of the earliest season starts in years.
“I’m looking out my window right now and can see maybe 200 yards,” said Tom Kramer, spokesman for Crystal Mountain Resort and Spa. “We operate at the will of mother nature to a large degree. This will be the first November opening we’ve had since 2007.”
And, the cold and snow won’t likely end before skiers have a chance to hit the slopes during the long holiday weekend. Snowfall is expected to continue through Thanksgiving.
“Just a couple inches every 12 hours,” said Meteorologist Andy Sullivan of the National Weather Service’s offices in Gaylord. “It’s just continual lake effect and lake-enhanced snow.”
Crystal Mountain, along with almost every ski hill in the region, was running its snow guns non-stop to prepare as many runs as possible for its opening day. The resort will open on Thanksgiving day from noon to 5 p.m., a handful of weeks earlier than the past few years, Kramer said.
The Mt. Holiday Ski Resort in Traverse City benefited from the early cold and snow as well. The cold weather put work on opening the ski area two weeks ahead of normal, said Michelle Konstanzer, events coordinator for the resort.
“I’ve never seen snow like this in Holiday Hills,” Konstanzer said.
She’s lived in the neighborhood her entire life.
“When the snow comes out like this, our phones are ringing off the hook,” she said.
The resort could open Dec. 14, which is two weeks ahead of last year’s first day.