Christmas comes late to Whistler 

Rain plagued some businesses while others thrived

It was the best of times and it was the worst of times for Whistler over the Christmas holidays.

It rained to the top of the mountains on Christmas Eve and it snowed every day afterwards for a total of 111 centimetres of fresh powder at the Whistler-Blackcomb weather station in just seven days.

For some, the weather decimated Christmas business, forcing them to close. For others business was booming.

"It was the best start of the season we’ve ever had," said Laura Goodwin, marketing co-ordinator for Canadian Snowmobile Adventures.

For a period of time CSA was the only snowmobile company able to operate because of its exclusive contract with Whistler-Blackcomb to use the terrain high on Blackcomb Mountain for some of its tours.

"Honestly, because we were the only company open, we were sold out," said Goodwin.

Likewise for companies such as Powder Mountain Snowcats, who could take their guests into the alpine, business was good.

Owner/operator Alberto Corso explained that his commercial tenure area is located between 4,500 and 7,500 feet. Even though it was raining in the valley, he said it was a "winter wonderland" at the top where kids could build snowmen and ride on their mini-luge.

"Because it was raining in the lower elevations and we could get families to high elevations and they could play in the snow… that picked up because there was really nothing for families to do (in the valley)," said Corso.

But while they were busy he said he noticed the phones weren’t ringing quite as much as they used to. And he worries.

He worries that the snowline may rise and affect the snow at even the higher elevations, which could impact his product.

"If it starts raining at a higher level, I’m going to be in trouble so the line it’s at right now is basically the highest it can go," said Corso.

"I’m not complaining but at the same time it’s not like the good old winters."

Companies operating in the valley were hard pressed to keep operations open, as the rain kept falling to the valley floor.

According to Environment Canada warning preparedness meteorologist Darlene Langlois, Whistler’s precipitation was on par for this time of year but the average temperatures were almost one degree above normal at 0.6 degrees instead of minus 0.3 degrees.

"When you’re right on the freezing point like that it can make a big difference whether it comes down as rain or snow," said Langlois. "In this case it came down mainly as rain."

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