Cold Forces Ski Resorts to Close Early

HERRICK TOWNSHIP -- With the wind chill, the temperature was below zero all day on top of Elk Mountain in Susquehanna County. That didn't stop Ryan Whitson of the Mid-Atlantic Masters Ski Racing Association from competing.

"I think it was about -4 up at the top and pretty windy up there, and most of us were in a GS suit, you know, like tight spandex, pretty much the only thing under there is a layer of thermal underwear," said Whitson.

With such frigid cold in the air, Whitson says he had friends looking out for his safety.

"Luckily, we have a lot of good friends that will shuttle jackets up and down, so you don't have to go without your jacket and pants on too long," Whitson said.

Whitson's friends aren't the only ones at the resort concerned for his safety. Elk Mountain is, too, and that is why the ski resort decided to close just before sundown.

"It's obviously very cold and at night it's just too risky to risk our staff and also to risk the general public to get hurt, so we've been closing at 4:30," Gregg Confer, Elk Mountain's vice president and general manager told Newswatch 16.

Confer said he considers a lot of factors when he decides to close early, but the safety of his guests and staff is most important.

"As the general manager, it concerns me when people can get hurt, and that's what I'm trying to prevent, so that's why I made the decision to close," Confer said.

The same goes for Montage Mountain in Scranton. The slopes were empty and the resort closed after 4:30 p.m. due to the sub-zero wind chill.

The webcam at Blue Mountain near Palmerton showed an arctic scene. The ski resort in Carbon County closed early as well.

Closing the slopes for the cold isn't common for Elk Mountain whatsoever.

Jeremy Longoria was on a ski trip with friends and agreed with the resort's decision to close early.

"I was at Blue Mountain on Thursday, and they closed at 4:30, and I think that's the right move because it's not safe for the workers, so yeah, I say it's the right move to close at 4:30," Longoria said.

Newswatch 16 checked with ski resorts in the Poconos. They were staying open despite the freezing conditions.

All the resorts plan to return to normal operating hours Sunday.

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