Warm weather delays start of area ski season

No longer waiting for mother nature to deliver the essential part of its business, Liberty Mountain Resort's snow machines have been working 'round the clock to blanket the mountain so the company can finally start the winter snow season.

On Thursday, the slopes at the Carroll Valley, Pennsylvania, resort — which, with its location being about 15 miles northwest of Taneytown, is Carroll County's closest ski resort — will open to the public for skiing, snowboarding and other winter sports, almost an entire month later than its standard December start.


Nearby ski resorts White Tail and Roundtop have also delayed their openings to this week.

Anne Weimer, Liberty's marketing director, said the resort opens the slopes for winter sports as soon as the air becomes cold enough to reliably make snow. Most years, this occurs around mid-December. This year, however, unseasonably warm weather has delayed the opening to a week into 2016.

"This is not a normal year for us at all. It's much warmer than it typically is," Weimer said. "We've gone into January before, but this is one of the latest starts we've had."

For snowboarder Kyle Barmoy, of Westminster, who tries to hit the slopes as often as he can, the delay has been hugely disappointing.

"It's been pretty depressing that I haven't gotten to go yet this year," Barmoy said. "I taught a snowboarding class at Liberty for eight years, so this is the first year I bought a pass of my own. I finally pay money to go snowboarding, and I miss an entire month of the season."

Barmoy said that although he has to work late Thursday, missing the opening day, he plans to hit the slopes early Friday morning to get a few runs in before the day's work.

Weimer said the late start won't affect the resort's bottom line too harshly. With the season open until March, she said, there is still plenty of time for people to get in all of the runs down the mountain that they'd like.

Liberty's snow machines throw water into the air, while the high pressure atomizes the water, breaking it into many tiny droplets that are then frozen mid-air, eventually falling to the ground as snow.

"It all depends on the air temperature. The snow we make is real," Weimer said. "We need freezing temperatures to form an ice crystal. Any time it's below freezing, we can be making snow."

This December, the daily high temperature never dropped below 42 degrees in Carroll Valley, with more than a couple of days reaching spring levels of warmth with temperatures in the upper 60s and low 70s.

Weather Underground's decade-long records show 2014 and 2015 as the only two years there wasn't at least one natural December snow in Carroll Valley. Most years had several days of natural snowfall, even if accumulation totals rarely amounted to much.

Barmoy, 22, said he's been snowboarding for the past 11 years. He said he will hit the slopes as often as he has the opportunity to.

"When I'm snowboarding, I don't have too many worries. I just get to ride," Barmoy said. "When I'm hitting the jumps and that adrenaline rush hits, it scares me every time. It's the best feeling in the world."



If you go:

When: 9 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday through Friday. 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.

Where: Liberty Mountain Resort, 78 Country Club Trail, Carroll Valley, Pa.

For more information: Call 717-642-9000.