Unseasonably Warm February Forces Maryland’s Only Ski Resort to Close Early

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Photo via Wisp Resort/Mountain Cam

Forget what Punxsutawney Phil said: For Wisp, Maryland’s only ski resort, winter is over.

Management for the Western Maryland-based lodge and resort posted a message on their website last night saying the “the historic, unseasonably warm rainy weather” has made for poor conditions for all types of winter sport this month.

“Snow tubing, ice skating and skiing conditions have deteriorated to a degree that we must close for the season,” they wrote in a separate post on Facebook.

With no more winter weather in sight for the next several weeks and forecast highs in the upper 50s with rain expected, management at the McHenry, Md.-based resort decided enough was enough.

Wisp spokeswoman Lori Zaloga said the situation is very uncommon. They had already tried to rebuild the snowpack twice, she noted.

“This is extremely rare,” she said. “In my general manager’s 40 years of being with the resort, he’s never seen a closure in February.”

The recent warm weather in Baltimore has been impossible to ignore. Last week brought multiple days with high temperatures near 70 degrees. The early spring climate gave sunbathers, kayakers and other lovers of warm weather plenty, but produced little to enjoy for the ski resort’s staff and its season pass-holding customers.

Only weeks ago, Wisp posted pictures on Facebook that showed snow was indeed falling. The photos from early February featured what we’d expect around this time of year: a snow-covered mountaintop after seven inches of snow fell, with additional powder being produced by the snowmaking machines.

Unfortunately, it all dried up in the last few weeks. Wisp’s website today says its snow base is exactly zero inches with no machine-powered snowmaking in the forecast.

The resort operated for 72 days this winter, from Dec. 16 through yesterday. They’ll continue running the Mountain Park area’s ropes courses, archery and other activities on weekends, staff said. Season pass holders unfortunately won’t get a refund or any other deals, but they can continue to access those other activities for the rest of the season, according to Zaloga.

“Thanks to all who have done a stellar job in making the most we could out of a difficult season,” Wisp management wrote in their online message.

Wisp isn’t alone in its predicament. Liberty Mountain Resort in Carroll Valley, Pa., is also closed for skiing, snowboarding and tubing due to the warm weather, according to its homepage. For those seeking a chance to hit the slopes before spring officially arrives, Roundtop and Whitetail in Pennsylvania are both still up and running.

Ethan McLeod
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Ethan McLeod

Senior Editor at Baltimore Fishbowl
Ethan has been editing and reporting for Baltimore Fishbowl since fall of 2016. His previous stops include Fox 45, CQ Researcher and Connection Newspapers in Northern Virginia. His freelance writing has been featured in Baltimore City Paper, Leafly, DCist and BmoreArt, among other outlets. He enjoys basketball, humid Mid-Atlantic summers and story tips.
Ethan McLeod
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