While ski slopes benefit from late snow, impact on crops unclear

While ski slopes benefit from late snow, impact on crops unclear


Ski slopes have benefited from late winter snowfall and below freezing temperatures, but fruit crops at area farms are at risk of being damaged.

About 60 inches of snow accumulated in some parts of the state this winter, 23 inches more than average, according to Gary Lessor, meteorologist with the Weather Center at Western Connecticut State University.

Lessor said 23 inches of snow fell in February, and 18 inches has accumulated in March so far. The average amount of snow for March is about 5 inches. The average temperature in March has been 31 degrees, 5 degrees below normal.

Mount Southington General Manager Jay Dougherty said recent conditions have been ideal for skiing and snowboarding.

“We had a fantastic week,” Dougherty said. “This past weekend we were packed here.”

Mount Southington typically opens in early December and closes in late March. At this point in the season, Mount Southington is usually only open on weekends, but recent snowfall and favorable temperatures have allowed the mountain to remain open seven days a week.

“We’re already open longer than last season,” Dougherty said.

Dougherty also said trails are in conditions comparable to what skiers and snowboarders would experience mid-season.

John Lyman, owner of Lyman Orchards in Middlefield, said cold weather can pose a threat to fruit crops. Lyman said fruit buds typically burst in late March.

Last year, peach crops began to grow early because of warm winter weather before being wiped out by a late frost in April.

Lyman said cold temperatures can damage crops, but snow can protect them due to its ability to act as an insulator. Early forecasts call for periods of warm and cold weather over the next several days.

“This is a little bit of an anxious time,” Lyman said. “But right now, I’d say we’re cautiously optimistic.”

Twitter: @BryanLipiner


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