Warm weather: a blessing, curse to Dubuque Co. ski resort - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Warm weather: a blessing, curse to Dubuque Co. ski resort

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Sundown Mountain Resort may have snow on its slopes, but the Dubuque Co. countryside is brown. Sundown Mountain Resort may have snow on its slopes, but the Dubuque Co. countryside is brown.
DUBUQUE COUNTY (KWWL) -

Unseasonably warm weather is taking a toll on local ski resorts, but these high temperatures are also drawing some people out to the slopes.

Sundown Mountain Resort in Dubuque County had a full parking lot Saturday afternoon.

Chris Weidenbacher and Kaleah Driscoll are season pass holders at Sundown.

On the slopes Saturday, they said they are enjoying this warm weather.

"It's great," Weidenbacher said. "You don't have to bundle up as much, and it's not freezing cold all the time."

It's not just die-hard season pass holders that agree.

Tiffany Hayes was skiing at Sundown Mountain Saturday with a tour group from St. Louis.

"When we left St. Louis, it was 68 degrees, so this is quite a change, but not as bad as I'd thought it would be," she said.

As a first-time skier, Hayes said the warm weather was helpful.

"I think today is a lot easier for me. I'm not really a cold weather person, so the warmer temperatures make it really nice to be out here," she said.

The lack of snowy weather, however, has impacted Sundown Mountain's business, general manager Mark Dietz said.

"Last year, there was sometimes an issue of too much snow and people couldn't get here, versus this year, where there is no snow," Dietz said, "so compared to last year, which was a record year, through January, we're actually about 20 percent down right now."

He said the number of season pass purchases grew this year, but day pass sales are down.

The snow currently on Sundown's slopes has all been manufactured, which takes resources, too.

"Right now, we've pumped somewhere in the neighborhood of about 23 million gallons of water," Dietz said. "Our usual is about 33 to 35 gallons for the whole year, so, yes, we've pumped a lot of snow that we've actually given back to the river this year, again, because of the warm weather."

Amount of snow aside, Sundown Mountain, as well as Chestnut Mountain in Galena, Ill., are helping market the tri state area as a winter tourism destination, according to the president of the Dubuque-area Convention and Visitors Bureau Keith Rahe.

"You know, both facilities do have snow, and they're open," Rahe said. "They're open for business, so that is something we'll continue to market as -- Dubuque and Galena -- as a destination for the downhill skiing and such."

Dietz said almost all the runs at Sundown are now open. Only one has yet to be finished. He said good snow-making weather is in the forecast this week.

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