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Despite lack of snow, Ellicottville is hardly panicking

WBFO file photo

Many Western New Yorkers aren't exactly upset that the first significant snowfall of the season has yet to arrive. Chances are, they're not in the business of running a ski resort. But while officials at a popular Western New York skiing destination wonder when they'll finally get to open their season officials in the village where it is located say the lack of flakes is not harming their local economy at all.

Buffalo has already broken the record for latest measurable snowfall, according to the National Weather Service. South of the city, in Ellicottville, officials at Holiday Valley are also waiting for Mother Nature's first delivery of snow accumulation this fall. While the resort has been making some artificial snow, marketing director Jane Eshbaugh told WBFO the weather is still not cooperating fully and, thus, they still await this season's opening day.

"We've had some nights... we didn't make snow last night but made it the night before," Eshbaugh said. "We've had a lot of temperature inversions, which means we can make more snow at the bottom of the hill than at the top. It definitely needs to be below freezing."

This year is not the latest Holiday Valley officials have waited to officially open a season, Eshbaugh noted. She said in the year 2001, ski season didn't begin until December 22.

"We were a little nervous at that time," she said with a laugh during a telephone interview with WBFO. 

Yet elsewhere in Ellicottville, officials are hardly worried about what the lack of snow is doing for the local economy. Brian McFadden, executive director of the Ellicottville Chamber of Commerce, says the local shopping district has enjoyed brisk business.

"We've just come off two record weekend for our merchants' sales, Christmas in Ellicottville and the Christmas Stroll," said McFadden. "We've had merchants talking to us that it's as big, saleswise, as Fall Festival here."

McFadden says Ellicottville is more than just a skiing town, and told WBFO that the numerous smaller shops are a popular draw among consumers looking to get away from the big "box stores."

Holiday Valley isn't entirely closed until the snow arrives. The Sky High Mountain Coaster is still open for business, Eshbaugh said. 

But ski officials are hopeful that the weather will turn more favorable in the near future so they can welcome skiiers for what is considered their busiest time of year.

"Christmas week can be our busiest week," she said.

Michael Mroziak is an experienced, award-winning reporter whose career includes work in broadcast and print media. When he joined the WBFO news staff in April 2015, it was a return to both the radio station and to Horizons Plaza.
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