Local ski slopes are getting ready to open this weekend with ideal weather conditions predicted.
Powder Ridge in Middlefield anticipates a Friday opening and Mount Southington will open on Saturday.
Mount Southington General Manager Jay Dougherty said staff planned to power up the snow system Monday night to be ready for the weekend. Powder Ridge co-owner and Management Director Sean Hayes said snow making began over the weekend, but production will increase in the next few days.
Both managers said the weather conditions this week are going to be great for snow production.
“It’s going to be very conducive for the ski slopes to be producing snow,” Gary Lessor, meteorologist with the Weather Center at Western Connecticut State University, said about this week’s conditions.
Lessor said an arctic front is forecast for Tuesday night, which will mean highs in the 20s and lows in the teens. Slopes need 28 degrees or lower to produce artificial snow.
Hayes said Powder Ridge will probably be running the snow machines all day Wednesday and Thursday.
Dougherty expects the first weekend at Mount Southington to be busy, “especially with the recent snow.”
He said this is an average opening date for the mountain. “We always shoot to open Dec. 1… We’ve opened as late as Jan. and as early as Dec. 1.”
This is the first season Powder Ridge is able to open for Christmas break, thanks to the ideal conditions.
“It’s a huge advantage for anyone in the industry,” Hayes said.
This weekend, about seven of Powder Ridge’s 22 slopes will be ready to use, including one or two top to bottom trails, the beginner slope, learning center, synthetic trail and tubing slope. Powder Ridge is the only mountain park with lift service tubing, according to Hayes.
Dougherty said Mount Southington will open at least six slopes this weekend. The mountain’s new snow-pumping system means more ground can be covered, with a 25 percent increase in production capacity.
Mount Southington completed various renovations over the summer and, in addition to the new snow pumps, renovated the mountain room and rental shop.
“This was a summer of renovations,” Dougherty said. The rental shop will include new racking and a more efficient layout and the mountain room will provide more seating on the main dining floor, he said.
Powder Ridge’s new synthetic trail will also prove valuable as the park won’t have to be as reliant on the weather for the necessary three feet of snow base to open a trail. Hayes said Powder RiJdge can guarantee its season to be from Dec. 15 to March 15, no matter how much natural snow the area gets.
As for the rest of the season, Lessor said there will be a few days that will warm up a bit, but the end December and beginning of January should provide good snow conditions.
Typically, this means more natural snow fall, but even it it’s dry, artificial production will be well off.
“Ideally I’d have a three to six inch snowstorm each Thursday,” and the weekends would be 35 degrees and sunny, Dougherty said. But traditionally, ski slopes are always reliant on mother nature and the weather is never always perfect, he added.