LAKE TAHOE, Calif., Nov. 24 (UPI) -- Visits to ski resorts in the western United States are suffering as regional droughts and climate change cut into their already shrinking seasons.
"This is a very serious and as strategically significant a topic as you can get," Andy Wirth, president and chief executive of Squaw Valley in Lake Tahoe, Calif. told the New York Times.
Squaw Valley and neighboring resort Alpine Meadows have spent $8 million producing artificial snow since 2011 in the face of falling snow totals and rising temperatures.
"From a business perspective, I'm a farmer," lamented John Rice, general manager of nearby Sierra-at-Tahoe.
"I'm not in the ski business. I farm snow."
"I don't know of anybody in the industry who is saying that climate change is not an issue for us," echoes Bob Roberts, president and chief executive of the California Ski Industry Association.
"If you're below 6,000 feet, it's a real challenge."
Drought and climate change aren't exclusively hindering winter sports in California. Although still early in the current season, in March, Oregon's Mt. Ashland officially made it through the entire 2013-2013 ski season without ever opening once, a dubious feat never achieved in the 50-year history of the resort.
"It seems like every time we get some snow this year it's followed up by pineapple express coming in with some rain, or really warm temperatures, or a combination of both," Mt. Ashland general manager Kim Clark told Oregon Public Broadcasting in March.
"When we get some snow, we get our hopes up and our enthusiasm up—and then the weather changes on us."