Death of the ski industry? |

Death of the ski industry?

Alex Miller

When we do weather stories, we’re usually careful to use lots of qualifying language – plenty of “forecasters predict” or “snow may fall” kind of stuff. That’s because when professional forecasters tell us a storm is going to drop 3-5 inches of snow in Vail, more often than not, it doesn’t quite happen that way.So when a group of “experts” at the State of the Rockies conference last week tell us that snowpack in Eagle County could be down 57 percent in 2085 and even worse in – heh heh heh – Utah.This from the kinds of people who often miss storms happening in, y’know, 2006. Not that we’re accusing them of stupidity or incompetence – predicting weather is a notoriously difficult enterprise, and it’s never going to be exactly what they say.Even so, if there’s a lick of truth to any of this, it bears consideration. What would it be like, for instance, if the ski season went from six months to three, and the base was only 20 inches? What recourse do we have to diversify our economy if skiing is no longer king?It’s hard to think much along these lines coming off a 400-inch winter season. Maybe there’s nothing to this report; but then again, maybe there is. We’d do well to keep an eye on how the overall climate is trending over the next few decades. One ally we may have is time, so if 2090 rolls around and Vail looks like Limon, we’ve only ourselves to blame if we watched it happen and didn’t think of another leg or two for our economy to stand on.Vail, Colorado

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