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Local ski sales, rentals moving at a glacial pace due to lack of snowfall

METRO VANCOUVER (NEWS1130) – Metro Vancouver ski shops have been seeing slow sales in recent months. This comes as mountains have been slow to open runs due to low snowfall.

At Yuho Sports in North Vancouver, owner James Kin says he’s learned to roll with the unpredictability of the weather.

But sales are down and rentals are suffering, too; he tells us only 17 people rented gear for Day 1 at Whistler, down from 50 last year.

“At the beginning of the season I [usually] see a lot of people coming in,” says Kin. “They buy clothing, goggles, new snowboards, and skis. So far, I haven’t really seen many people coming in. It’s pretty slow.”

Kin attributes that drop in business to the local mountains having few or no runs open yet due to a lack of the white stuff.

“If you see the North Shore from Vancouver, you can see mountains with snow. Until it turns really, really white, not too many people will be interested in snowboarding or skiing,” says Kin.

Relatively warm weather mixed with rain has contributed to a lack of snowfall on the slopes, although staff at Mount Seymour expect to open up some runs by mid-December.

So how are things looking in the long term for the mountain weather forecast?

“The forecast trend for the North Shore ski hills over about the next week or so is not as promising as we would hope,” says News1130 Meteorologist Russ Lacate.

“All indicators are pointing towards an elevated freezing level and a moisture-laden jetstream. That’s going to translate into more rain than snow, especially over the lower slopes,” he tells us.

“Whistler-Blackcomb is somewhat protected from that. But it’s likely only going to be the alpine elevations where you’ll see any significant snow.”

Russ says the theme of this winter is ‘El Nino’ — that means higher freezing levels.