Ski resorts cheering heavy snowfall

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(Host) This week’s storm left up to a couple of feet of snow in the mountains, adding to an already-substantial snowpack.

Ski resorts say the weather has been a gift from the sky that has helped them get through the recession.

VPR’s Ross Sneyd reports.

(Sneyd) At the Vermont Ski Areas Association, Jen Butson was ecstatic when she got to work.

(Butson) “We came in this morning with oodles of inquiries from all over the region and Canada. People are just elated.”

(Sneyd) The economy may have soured, but people still like to get out to the mountains.

Early anecdotal reports from the resorts suggest that business is on par with last year’s strong season.

Butson says this year, as the economy faltered, the resorts prepared early to lure visitors with a variety of deals and discounts.

(Butson) “The marketing and PR offices of the ski areas of the state are certainly creative and also have aggressive initiatives on value. And what’s really been neat to see … is that the media and the consumers are really rising to the occasion and inquiring more and asking us more and really getting the deals out there.”

(Sneyd) If the weather holds, the ski areas could record as much business as last year – 4.3 million skier visits – and maybe even more.

The ski areas association says that level of activity spins off $1.5 billion in business at the resorts and surrounding towns.

But everyone acknowledges that if it weren’t for the snow, there wouldn’t be nearly so much business, regardless of the economy.

And that’s where the resorts have been lucky.

Up and down the spine of the Green Mountains, a Vermont version of white gold has been piling up this winter.

Scott Whittier is with the National Weather Service.

(Whittier) “We’re already at what our seasonal normal would be for an entire season, and yet … we still have March and I hate to say, April to go. We haven’t had an April snowstorm in a while, but they certainly do happen, so we’ll have to see how that pans out.”

(Sneyd) In an average year, around 80 inches of snow falls in Burlington for the entire season. The mountains typically get at least twice as much.

More snow looks like it could be on the way. The 10-day forecast includes a coastal storm the middle of next week. Depending on how it moves up the coast, Vermont could be in for another big snowfall.

For VPR News, I’m Ross Sneyd.

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