hgazette.com, Haverhill, MA

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January 18, 2012

Unusual winter warmth hurts local ski complex

It's been a tough winter for snow lovers.

An unusually warm winter has resulted in very little snowfall in Haverhill and the rest of New England. But for those looking for their fix of the wintry mix, the city's lone ski complex is ready.

After a delayed opening to the season, Ski Bradford on South Cross Street is up and running. The snow on the slopes is mostly man-made, but still feasible to ski on.

One of the biggest problems for Ski Bradford hasn't been the lack of snow on the ground, but the abnormally warm conditions. One day in early January, the weather approached 60 degrees. The warmth makes it difficult for workers there to be able to make snow.

"We've only had a few nights recently where we've been able to actually make snow," said Ski Bradford owner Neil Sawyer before the recent low temperatures of the past week.

The temperature must be less than 28 degrees for the snow machines to function properly. When the weather cooperates, Sawyer and his crew make snow at night and then spray it all over the hill so skiers can have a fresh batch of snow by the morning.

"We're basically snow farmers," Sawyer said. "The colder it gets, the more we are able to make."

Snow can be made at 28 degrees, but that is not the best condition. Sawyer said the most preferable temperature is about 15 degrees. Through the first week of January, the temperature rarely dipped below 20 degrees, causing Ski Bradford to have to make snow at a warmer temperature than the crew would like.

Ski Bradford has had trouble getting people's minds on snow. When the weather is warm and pleasant, snow is typically the last thing on the casual skier's mind. The majority of skiers there have been high school ski teams practicing after school on weekdays. Sawyer estimates that while in the morning the slopes are quiet, more than 1,200 young people visit Ski Bradford later during a regular school day.

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