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How a freeze-thaw cycle extends ski season

Monday, February 25th 2019, 10:48 am - Canada: The only place it's not uncommon to see someone shovelling in shorts, or scraping the windshield in a t-shirt.

Our temperature swings can be dramatic, and that can make it difficult to plan ahead.

There is, however, a silver lining to Mother Nature's mood swings: The freeze-thaw cycle we've experienced the past few months will allow for an extended ski season.

“That thaw cycle means the base is going to set up and become a little more dense,” says AJ Leeming of Glen Eden in Milton, Ontario.

“When we blow more snow, or create more snow on top of that, we have a nice firm block underneath. This helps to refrigerate the surface above.”

Visit our Complete Guide to Spring 2019 for an in depth look at the Spring Forecast, tips to plan for it and much more

The thaw also helps manmade snow bond with natural snow. Air bubbles are removed during this process, and that helps solidfy the base.

The key to keeping the ski season going into spring is having the ability to make more snow. Water will turn into snow crystals at the freezing mark but many ski operations prefer -2°C before they fire up the snow guns.

Spring skiing is a treat, and Canadians love to do it: There are about 275 Canadian ski areas which see over 19 million visits each ski season.

With the right base, resorts have been tracking records for the “latest closing”.

During the 2017 / 2018 ski season winter lovers at Blue Mountain were able to enjoy skiing until April 30th. In that same year Mont Tremblant stayed open for skiing until April 22.

WHAT ARE SOME OF THE PERKS OF SPRING SKIING?

Here are a few:

  • Longer daylight hours
  • Warmer temperatures
  • Often discounted lift tickets
  • Fewer people and less lines

FYI

If you plan on skiing during the spring, be cautious when it comes to the sun. Sunburns on the ski hill are extremely common in March and April. It's not uncommon for skiiers to underestimate the strength of the sun as it increases and the reflection off the snow only makes it worse. Always use sun protection before you venture out.

VIDEO: GENDER-SPECIFIC SKIS ARE ON THE RISE

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