Rain, fog and warm weather have closed ski slopes across Quebec, raising fears that the warm weather could dampen ski slope operators' hopes for a snowy season.
"We're waiting for the good weather to come back. It's tough," Charles Desourdi, president and CEO of Ski Bromont, said in an interview.
Dezurdi said Bromont had a busy few days after Christmas. Conditions were good due to the storm in Quebec on Christmas Eve. But then the temperature rises above freezing, it rains and the fog lifts.
The heat has forced Bromont to close most of its trails, leaving only the bare minimum open for the few brave hikers who stay in the holiday apartments near the mountain.
"It is abandoned," Dezurdi said on Sunday. There can be 100 people on the mountain when normally we have 3,000 or 4,000.
But thanks to the Bromont snowblowers, the season was not as bad as expected.
At night, when the temperature is below freezing, the Bromont and Quebec ski mountains are often shrouded in fog. It is a byproduct of giant snow cannons that spray fine misty water into a fine powder that coats streams.
This snow paved the way for the slopes to open before the holiday season.
Dezurdi said without snow, the season would be short and unprofitable, especially as weather trends point to a warmer winter.
"We cannot bury our heads in the sand. "For us, this is a solution for the future: it is to invest in snow production, because if we wait for nature, we can wait a long time."
Philippe Gauchon, professor and head of research on climate change-related hydrometeorological risks at the Université de Montréal (UQAM), says winters have gotten warmer in the past decade.
"What we're seeing more and more — we're seeing it this year and we've seen it in past years — is a freeze-thaw cycle that's causing problems with snow accumulation and melting," he said.
He said the prolonged heat in Quebec is an anomaly but is becoming more common.
Christian Dufour, director of marketing at Les Sommets, which owns the hills in the Lawrence Mountains, said cold November and December weather helped them get plenty of snow and open early.
But when it rained, Les Sommets closed its resorts for the day and now only a few slopes are open. Avoid using snow blowers as they speed up the melting of the snow.
Dufour said the Hills are preparing for a period of warm weather and will focus on getting more snow before other busy times like spring break.
"It doesn't bother us, we're used to it. "We'll adapt to changing weather conditions."
The warm weather covered other winter sports.
Steve Massicot, spokesperson for the Pourvoyeurs de la rivière Ste-Anne association , said the ice fishing season was delayed because warm weather and rain made the ice unstable.
"We have no choice, it's Mother Nature," she said. "When it comes to ski resorts and snowmobile trails, fishing, winter activities — rain and six or seven degrees in January, it's really not great."
A season delay can cause equipment on the St. Anne River cost more than $1 million, Massicot said.