Climate Change Tough on Michigan Ski Towns

March 4, 2014

WWJ CBS Detroit:

THOMPSONVILLE (WWJ) – It’s been a crazy past few winters at Crystal Mountain Resort & Spa.

Jim MacInnes, president and CEO of the Benzie County ski area, golf course and conference complex, said that this winter, there’s been plenty of natural snow — an astounding 245 inches, more than 20 feet.

But just two years ago, he noted, it got up to 82 degrees in March, killing off the ski season (not to mention northern Michigan’s fruit crops when they budded early and died when temperatures fell to below 20 degrees in May).

Friday, MacInnes appeared with Brenda Archambo of the National Wildlife Federation, Eric Keller of Clean Water Action, and representatives of the Michigan Land Use Institute to talk over the effects of climate change on Michigan’s tourism industry.

“Obviously, it’s made our business more difficult,” MacInnes said. “I look at climate as rolling dice — you never know what numbers are going to come up. This year it’s come up very nicely for us in the Midwest. But out West ,it hasn’t been so nice. Some ski areas took a long time to open, others never opened at all.”

What appears to be happening, speakers said, is that a warming North Pole is reducing the power that drives the jet stream around the earth. “So because there’s less power it stalls and meanders,” MacInnes said. “And you never know where it’s going to stall or meander. It could stall someplace that leaves you really cold, or someplace that leaves you really warm. So we have less certainty and wider weather swings.”

MacInnes said that to counter less reliable lake effect snowfall, Crystal Mountain has “invested millions in snowmaking over the years, snow guns and pipes and pumps, so that in the short time we can make snow we can really make a lot.”

Crystal Mountain is also dependent on summer weather for its golf season, and to a lesser extent its conference business. “Conferences book well ahead of time and use inside resources,” MacInnes said. Crystal Mountain added a 33,000 square foot conference center in 1994, featuring one large room that seats about 425 theater style and another slightly smaller room that seats about 300.

The only problem for MacInnes and Crystal Mountain this year has been bitterly cold temperatures. No matter how good the snow is, MacInnes said, “when it gets really cold people don’t want to ski, just like they don’t want to golf in the summer if it’s too hot.”

The aim of Friday’s press conference, MacInnes said, “was to keep awareness high about the implications of climate change and how it could affect many different areas of the tourism industry. It sure affects how much money we have to spend.”

MacInnes said the resort has made several sustainability steps, including use of LED lighting, tighter insulation, and advanced heating and cooling systems — for example, using the warm air in an indoor pool area to heat other rooms. “We all need to be thinking about reducing our carbon footprint,” he said.

10 Responses to “Climate Change Tough on Michigan Ski Towns”

    • redskylite Says:

      Time to leave the rest of Oil, gas and coal under Terra firma or sea, and move on to cleaner energy, before we wipe out untold marine species, do we really want to remain a prisoner to prices and conflicts:…/Gas-oil-prices-soar-petrol…

    • dumboldguy Says:

      Ocean acidification is not much talked about, but it is likely to be one of the most impactful things about AGW and CO2 buildup. The ocean is a CO2 sink. Scallops, oysters, clams, and abalone may be visible victims because we eat them, but the greatest weight of living things in the ocean is the phytoplankton that are at the base of the oceanic food chains. CO2 may actually be “good” for them, but the impacts on zooplankton and on up the food chain are poorly understood. Just another thing that may bite us in the butt.

      ****I’m really commenting here to point out the small “related item” in the lower left at the end of the scallop piece: “Killer climate: tens of thousands of flying foxes dead in a day”.

      All should read it—45,500 flying foxes dead from heat in ONE DAY and 1000 orphaned. They were literally dropping out of the sky. How about this, friends in Australia? Flying foxes are big enough that you could be seriously hurt by one “falling dead from the sky” and hitting you.

      • redskylite Says:

        If anyone still doubts global warming is happening down under (nudge Mr Abbott) the graph labelled “Chart showing number of days annually where Australian area-averaged daily mean temperature is above the 99th percentile for the period 1910–2013. This metric reflects the spatial extent and frequency of extreme heat across the continent. Half of these events have occurred in the past twenty years. Image: Bureau of Meteorology/CSIRO” is an eye opener in this Guardian article.

      • ClimateState Says:

        There are many more such events and it is not always easy to tie these to anomalies. If we get an El Nino we can see much more of this in the months ahead and ofc one has to suspect that these die offs are a trend which will only get worse.

  1. redskylite Says:

    Great cartoon from John Cook (sks) based on a comment from JC:

  2. […] WWJ CBS Detroit: THOMPSONVILLE (WWJ) – It’s been a crazy past few winters at Crystal Mountain Resort & Spa. Jim MacInnes, president and CEO of the Benzie County ski area, golf course and confer…  […]

  3. […] WWJ CBS Detroit: THOMPSONVILLE (WWJ) – It’s been a crazy past few winters at Crystal Mountain Resort & Spa. Jim MacInnes, president and CEO of the Benzie County ski area, golf course and confer…  […]

  4. […] 2014/03/04: PSinclair: Climate Change Tough on Michigan Ski Towns […]

  5. […] 2014/03/04: PSinclair: Climate Change Tough on Michigan Ski Towns […]

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