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Maine Lakefront Property
Our Maine lakefront experts are standing by to help you. Views and news about Maine lakes and lakefront homes See why the Mr. Lakefront team provides superior information and unsurpassed service Read the latest news about lakes and ponds across the state Educate yourself about buying lakefront property Find information about hundreds of Maine lakes and ponds Browse available Maine lakefront properties

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Hot Weather a Killer for Ski Resorts

March 26, 2012 - Newry Skiers stripped down to shorts and bikini tops to keep cool Wednesday as they got in some of the final, slushy runs of a disappointing season.
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An unprecedented spell of record temperatures, soaring into the 80s, had New England skiers dodging dirt patches and exposed rocks as melting snow spelled potentially millions in losses for those who make their living off winter tourism and sports.

"It's like 'swinter' -- summer and winter combined," said 15-year-old Allie Ward, who wore only a bikini and boots during a break from skiing at Sunday River. She was joined by a sunburned friend. Both girls had come from North Shore on Canada's Prince Edward Island.

A year after ski resorts reported a record 60.5 million visits, this season opened with early snow and high expectations. But optimism was short-lived as Christmas arrived with little or no snow. And the trend carried through the winter.

Only three of Maine's 22 ski areas were open Wednesday. Sugarloaf, the state's tallest ski mountain, tried to put a good face on the warm temperatures, tweeting this week about sun-drenched "slushy goodness" on its slopes.

In the end, the December-to-February period was the fourth-warmest in the continental U.S., and was one of the three warmest on record from Washington, D.C., to Caribou, Maine, said Jessica Rennells of the Northeast Regional Climate Center at Cornell University in Ithaca, N.Y.

This week, the warmth has made history.

In Bangor, the temperature surged to 83 degrees on Wednesday, smashing the record of 64. In neighboring New Hampshire, the capital, Concord, was in a summer-like spell that had never been seen in 144 years of record-keeping.

"There's only five days in March where the record was 80 or higher in Concord. And we're going to do that five times in a row this week," said John Cannon of the National Weather Service. "That's unprecedented."

And that means millions of dollars in lost revenue for ski resorts, retail stores and hotels. Cross-country skiing and snowmobiling also have suffered.

Skiers have to be wary because of the changing conditions.

"The biggest challenge is, there's a lot of dirt and exposed rocks. You have to pick your way down the mountain and avoid the obstacles," Kevin Gray of Eliot said after skiing a few runs at Sunday River.

In the Northeast, larger resorts like Sunday River and Sugarloaf and Vermont's Killington usually stay open well into April, and sometimes even May.

And they remain optimistic that they can hold out for several more weeks, pointing to a cooler forecast this weekend that gives a glimmer of hope that the little snow that's left won't melt.

"I don't know that any one of us have seen a week of 70- to 80-degree heat in March, but I wouldn't say it's a killer," said Sugarloaf spokesman Ethan Austin. "We're definitely not packing it in yet."

On Wednesday, 15-year-old Sydney Warren said she was grateful that she and her friend, Allie Ward, brought swimsuits for their weeklong ski vacation, thinking they would be used for the resort's swimming pool. But she needed some sunscreen, as well.

"I didn't think I'd be in a swimsuit out here. But I'm glad I can be," she said, with a sunburn on her face and shoulders. "I'm burned to a crisp."

Clarke Canfield, Portland Press Herald, March 2012


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