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'A little behind schedule': Mild weather pushes back start of seasonal recreation

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While some people are welcoming the warm weather Winnipeg has seen and continues to see, those looking forward to the typical frosty forecast may have to wait a little bit longer.

According to Environment and Climate Change Canada (ECCC), there aren’t any flurries in the forecast that could stick around anytime soon. Meteorologists point to the weather phenomenon El Nino for the not-so-wintery weather.

“For western Canada, El Nino events tend to give us warmer than average and drier than average winters,” said ECCC meteorologist Terri Lang.

These kinds of winters aren’t ideal for many businesses and recreational facilities across Manitoba that rely on cold conditions to operate. These include ski and snowboarding resorts, snowmobile race tracks and community centre ice rinks.

Scott Street has been the operations supervisor at the Corydon Community Centre’s three sites for 16 years. According to Street, by this time of the year, the facility’s outdoor rinks should be nearly ready to open to the public.

“We’re a little bit behind schedule right now,” Street said. “We’re not getting that quick freeze that we like.

“It’s a bit of a losing battle some days.”

A quick freeze and some flurries are just some of the key conditions Holiday Mountain Resort in La Rivière, Man. needs before starting its ski and snowboard season in less than two weeks on Dec. 15.

“This is our snowmaking period and so we’re not able to make snow,” said general manager Abe Sawatzky. “So it’s preventing us from opening as early as we’d normally like.”

In Beauséjour, Man., the Canadian Power Toboggan Championships (CPTC) are expecting more than 100 racers this weekend. Organizers say that while they don’t need snow, they require below-zero temperatures to run the race.

“Every year, it brings a different element,” said Jared Black, CPTC president. “We can’t control it, right? So we just try and do the best that we can.”

Street said the lack of open outdoor rinks limits indoor ice availability and overall recreational activity, and can even put a financial strain on community hockey clubs.

“We are quite busy inside,” Street said. “There’s so many teams and they like to use the outdoor ice. For one, it’s a lot cheaper.

“It’s been a strain on the system for sure.”

For people looking to lace up their skates and hit the city-run rinks, the public works department told CTV News it hopes to have its outdoor amenities up and running soon – just in time for the holiday season.

In regards to whether Winnipeg will see a white Christmas, Environment Canada says it’s still too soon to say.

“We consider a white Christmas to be with two centimetres of snow on the ground at a weather station that's measured. If it's less than two centimetres, it's considered to be a brown Christmas,” Lang said. “If there's two centimetres of snow on the ground and it's snowing on Christmas Day, it's considered to be a perfect Christmas.”

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