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New England Ski Resorts Improving Snowmaking Capacity After Disappointing 2015-16 Season

The winter of 2015-16 was the warmest on record for many parts of New England, according to the National Weather Service.

For the region's ski resorts, that meant a marked lack of natural snowfall. Vermont's Killington Mountain Resort, for instance, only got 81 inches all season (way down from an average of 250 inches), while Wachusett Mountain in Princeton, Massachusetts received a pitiful 28 inches. 

That, in turn, resulted in a disappointing year for business. After an estimated 13.3 million skiers and snowboarders poured into the Northeast in 2014-15, last year got 9.3 million visitors—the lowest number in 35 years.

In case Old Man Winter turns out to be stingy again in 2016-17, many New England resorts have spent the intervening months ramping up their snowmaking systems.

After multimillion-dollar improvements, Maine's Sunday River Resort now has 2,000 snow guns. The new owners of Vermont's Magic Mountain rushed to make artificial precipitation a priority almost immediately after acquiring the ski area in August. And Wachusett's management has invested $2 million in doubling the mountain's pumping capacity in order to make powder faster.

The Farmer's Almanac is predicting a colder than usual winter with above-average precipitation. But after last year, these ski resorts aren't taking any chances.