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Impact of winter warm-up on businesses

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CNY/NNY/S. Tier: Impact of winter warm-up on businesses
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With temperatures topping out near 63 degrees, local ski resorts couldn't do much besides watch the snow melt. Our Sarah Blazonis is at Song Mountain Resort in Tully with more on how businesses that depend on cold weather are handling the warm-up.

TULLY, N.Y. -- Song Mountain is just about the only place snow is still visible here in Tully after today's record-breaking temperatures. But business owners say they're counting on this break from the cold to be just that: the calm before more winter sets in.

The slopes on Song Mountain were quiet Wednesday, but that's rarely been the case so far this year.

"We had an outstanding Christmas holiday. We've just come off a great, great snow making period. Snow guns operated for over 120 hours straight," said Peter Harris, Song Mountain Resort owner.

But temperatures that climbed into the 60s meant there was more melting and dripping than snow making going on mid-week.

"The ski business is a roller coaster. We're used to thaws and freezes," said Harris.

The group I Ski New York says four million skiers typically hit the state's slopes each winter. Last year's mild weather caused that total to dip 20 percent to 3.2 million. Not good news for an industry that brings about $1 billion into the state every year.

"You know, we have a payroll in excess of $40 million on top of the indirect impact, you know -- the gas stations, the restaurants, the bed and breakfasts, hotels, retail stores and so on," said Scott Brandi, president of I Ski New York.

The owner of Play it Again Sports in North Syracuse says winter sports sales make up a big part of his sales. He says the challenge can be getting people to buy equipment when they don't see snow in their yards.

“The ski areas do their best to make the snow and give you good conditions, and they do a pretty good job, and there is still skiing and snowboarding. The areas that really suffer from this kind of weather is the cross country skiing and snow shoeing," said Ronald Yackel, Play it Again Sports owner.

But warm-up or not, businesses agree - this year is already better than last.

"Compared to last winter, we're probably double what we did last year because the winter...happened. Last year we didn't have much of a winter," said Yackel.

And it looks like the rollercoaster will continue for businesses. YNN's meteorologists say it looks like we're in for another cool-down beginning tonight.

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