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Old Man Winter hits slopes as ski resorts take advantage of Arctic blasts

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Nov. 16 (UPI) — From Pennsylvania to Michigan, a handful of ski resorts are taking advantage of the unusually cold start to November to open their slopes to the public weeks earlier than normal.

The Bittersweet Ski Resort in Otsego, Mich., is one of such resorts.

“Typically we open Thanksgiving weekend. Some years we didn’t open until the middle of December, so this is very, very early — three years in a row,” Bittersweet Ski Resort’s General Manager Victor Gayheart told AccuWeather’s Blake Naftel.

About 6 inches of snow fell in Otsego this week after very little had fallen through Nov. 10.

The dip in temperatures for the first half of November have allowed ski resorts to fire up the snowmakers to help build the snow base. Gayheart said in some areas, they have up to 3 feet of base.

“This natural snow should get people excited,” Gayheart said. The average high for the first 15 days of November for Otsego is 51 and the average low 36. For the first 15 days of this November, the average high has been 40 and the low has been 25.

For the Bittersweet Ski Resort, the base “could typically survive 45-degree days,” according to Gayheart, due to the base freezing once more as temperatures drop during the longer, wintry nights.

“With the shorter days and if it sets back up at night, we really don’t lose much,” Gayheart said.

A few states away in Palmerton, Pa. Blue Mountain Ski resort is preparing for its earliest opening in 42 years.

“This is a good two to three weeks early for us,” Blue Mountain Ski Resort’s Marketing Director Ashley Seier told AccuWeather’s Brittany Boyer. “As soon as that wet bulb temperature gets to 27 degrees, we’re ready to pump snow out.”

Big Boulder Ski Resort in Lake Harmony, Pennsylvania, had its third earliest opening on Friday after about 7 days of snowmaking starting last week, according to Pat Morgan. Moran is the Director of Freestyle Terrain at Jack Frost/Big Boulder Ski Areas.

“We’re opening one of the best products that we’ve had in quite some time as well,” Morgan said.

While the extreme cold across the Great Lakes and Appalachia is expected to retreat, temperatures across the regions are still expected to be on average 2 to 6 degrees below normal into mid-December, according to AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist Dave Bowers.

The Great Lakes over to near Appalachia has had temperatures from 6 to 10 degrees below average so far in November, according to Bowers, and most of Michigan has held temperatures 10 to 11 degrees below average.

“November has been extraordinarily cold,” Bowers said. “They probably can keep the base. If I was running a ski resort and in the Lakes, I’d be making snow any opportunity. This is really, this is quite rare.”

Not only was it rare, but a handful of cities across the Northeast broke century-old record low temperatures through the week.

Additional reporting by Brittany Boyer and Blake Naftel

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