Winter wonderland: Officials hope early snow is a good sign

Last winter wasn’t a banner year for the red barn, above, but Mount Southington is already open for business. Prices remain the same, and officials hope that the early snow is a good sign for this winter.

By BRIAN JENNINGS

STAFF WRITER

Get out your skis and snowboards kids, and punch those lift tickets. Winter is here and Mount Southington is open for business.

Winter took a vacation last year, due in part to a strong El Niño, leaving the state in a major drought. Snowfall and temperatures were a wonderland joke.

According to the National Weather Service Forecast Office, a total of just 26.9 inches of snowfall was reported for Bradley International Airport in Hartford. But winter is back, or though they say.

Listed on their website, the Farmers’ Almanac is predicting that, “An active storm track will deliver above-normal precipitation to the Southeast, Northeast, and New England states throughout most of the winter, especially February.”

Mount Southington manager Jay Dougherty hopes the forecast comes true. Dougherty is predicting a powdery-packed winter as well for Connecticut, but is looking at it from a more short-term perspective.

“Looking at the 15-day forecast has been crucial this year because we’ve gotten a lot of cold-weather opportunities here in December,” he said. “That was not the case last year, nor was it the year before.”

Not only does he expect a decent amount of snow for this season, but Dougherty said that he also expects a big turnout of people as well. He said that people feel a little gypped after last winter’s lack of snow. He hopes that brings them out early and often this winter.

Although sales were down last winter, given that the season was shorter, Mount Southington still did well on the days that they were open. Mount Southington went from 97 operating days the prior year to 63. But over those 63 days, 100 percent of their terrain was open for about 97 percent of that time.

New concrete sidewalks coming into the property were added, as well as numerous new signages. The lower floor of the Red Barn Cafeteria was redone, and the walls in what was the Alpine Eatery—is now the Mountain Room—were refinished.

No major capital improvements were done to Mount Southington coming into this winter season, but basic changes included the widening of a trail and terrain park, and Mount Southington continued to invest in new signage around the area.

“We wanted to make room for jump line in the center of the trail,” said Dougherty. “It should make for a more exciting terrain park.”

A revamped landscape should help draw more attention the slopes, but Dougherty said that social media will keep customers connected to Mount Southington. Currently, you can find Mount Southington on Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, and Twitter. They have been building up Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter for the past few years now, but Snapchat is fairly new.

“In the past, it’s mostly reached out to kids,” said Dougherty. “But most parents are on social media now as well. It allows us to have more of an instant connection with our customers. We can convey information at a quicker pace than just using our traditional website.”

One event that is popular every year and looking to be a big hit again this season is the cardboard race that the Mount Southington hosts during their winter carnival. People are encouraged to make a cardboard box into some sort of sled, ready to glide downhill in a timed race.

“They’re ranked on the looks of their cardboard box,” said Dougherty. “People have come out and made pirate ships, space shuttles, you name it.”

Hours of operation for Mount Southington during non-holiday periods during the week are from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. During the holiday periods on the weekend, they are open from 9 a.m. to 10 p.m. Night hours are from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m.

Rates for adults (13 and over) are $58 for eight hours, $54 for four hours, and $35 for nights. Juniors (6-12) and seniors (65 and older) are $48 for eight hours, $44 for four hours, and $35 for nights. Pre-school kids (5 and under) are $15 at any time.

The current conditions for Mount Southington are 12 to 24 inches of snow. Six trails are open now, which include Northstar, Dom’s Way, Stardust, Avalanche, Boomerang, and Thunderbolt. Three lifts are also open as well, which include the Northstar Double Chair, the Startdust Triple Chair, and the Stardust Triple Chair. Mount Southington will have 11 trails open and all seven lifts available for this weekend though.

Mount Southington has a total of 14 trails and seven lifts. Dom’s Way is their longest trail at 7/8 of a mile.

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