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The Winter Wonderland That Wasn't02:45
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Low snowfall totals across the country are forcing ski resorts to rely even more heavily on their  snow-making equipment. (AP)
Low snowfall totals across the country are forcing ski resorts to rely even more heavily on their snow-making equipment. (AP)

In order to ski or snowboard, a certain type of precipitation, in the form of crystalline water ice, must fall out of the sky and accumulate on the ground. It's called snow. If there is no snow, sliding down a mountain on waxed pieces of fiberglass is nearly impossible.

This winter the snowfall in the continental United States has fallen to near-record lows, which is causing problems for ski resorts and their patrons. Only A Game's Bill Littlefield spoke with Paul Walsh of the Weather Channel and asked him just how abnormal this year's snowfall totals have been.

[sidebar title="Vermont Ski Resorts Move Past Irene" width="255" align="right"] In the summer of 2011, Tropical Storm Irene caused millions of dollars in damages to ski resorts and devastated many Central Vermont communities around them. Only A Game's Doug Tribou visited the region to check on the recovery process. [/sidebar]"It's been amazingly below normal," Walsh said. "On February 2, only 19 percent of the U.S. is covered by snow, and that compares to 60 percent last year. Lake Tahoe had no snow in December, and that's the first time that's happened since the late 1800s."

Walsh added that this year's low totals are even more surprising when compared with last year's exceptionally high figures. Last year's snow might have briefly helped ski resorts this year, but Walsh says any benefit quickly wears off .

"When you have a really good, strong snow season season, it helps in terms of pre-season sales of season tickets," he said, "but as you move into the season, it becomes difficult to make up for a full year when you've got such a late start."

While America has been able to keep its shovels and boots in storage, Europe's has seen record snowfall in many areas. But Walsh says that February might bring a rebound here in the U.S.

"It does look like, for the eastern part of the country, we may see a return to more normal-type weather for a short period of time."

This segment aired on February 4, 2012.

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