While the sunshine and warmth over the last three days around Regina have been good for outdoor hockey players and downhill skiers alike, meager snowfall over the last two months has left cross country ski trails thin and bare.
“We’re skiing, but we’re on a very thin base. There’s not a lot we can do to repair or renovate it, because we don’t have much snow to work with,” Regina Ski Club coordinator Gregg Brewster said.
“This (season) is fairly rare. We usually have a pretty good snowfall by Christmas time. And this year we don’t,” he said. “In my 19 years (with the club), this has probably been the worst snow conditions that I’ve seen at this point in the season.”
Data from Environment Canada shows that November and December were among the drier those months have ever been, going back 132 years, according to meteorologist Terri Lang.
She said Regina received 8.2 mm of precipitation in November; it normally gets 14.2 mm in that month.
December was drier: 5.5 mm or precipitation fell in the city, and normal conditions would see 15.7 mm.
Lang explained the weather agency doesn’t track snowfall specifically; she said 1 mm of precipitation is equivalent to about 2.5 to 3 cm of snow in the Regina area, based on its climate.
“If we can get by with 3 or 4 cm of fresh snow every week, that would just be nice,” Brewster said.
Cross country trails can usually survive a week to 10 days without any snow, he said. “But once we get onto that two-week stretch, there’s so much ski traffic that we need to renovate again.”
He said it’s rare that a ski club can afford to make snow the same way downhill ski clubs do, because of the cost of the equipment and the texture of the snow, which resembles ice more than natural snow.
“You can’t even consider making snow unless you’ve got a half a million dollars,” Brewster said. “And a downhill club has much a smaller area to cover than a cross-country trail; they don’t have to make as much snow as we would.”
Lang confirmed large swaths of Saskatchewan are seeing little to no snow cover so far this winter.