Frigid Temps Force Snowbowl to Postpone Opening Day - ABC FOX MONTANA NEWS, WEATHER, SPORTS - KTMF/KWYB

Frigid Temps Force Snowbowl to Postpone Opening Day

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MISSOULA -

Frigid temperatures kept skiers and snowboarders off the slopes at Snowbowl, after officials announced they postponed their season opener Friday morning.

Snowbowl Mountain Manager, Pat McKay, said he got a rude awakening at 5:30 this morning, when he caught sight of the thermometer while starting up the chair lifts.

"The temperature itself was about 10-12 degrees below, with it had to be at least a 20-mile-per-hour wind or more," he said.

McKay said that put the temperature at about 40 below zero at the top of the mountain, conditions he said cause too many hazards at a commercial ski area.

"We've worked really hard all season, all fall, and really pushed hard to get the mountain open, so it's kind of disappointing," he said.

McKay said frigid temps can freeze fluids in their heavy machinery.

"A lot of that stuff, in the brutal cold, it don't like to function properly."

This slows down their ability to groom runs, repair equipment and even respond to emergencies.

Snowbowl officials said sub zero temperatures can even affect the steel part of the chair lift machinery, meaning people riding up the mountain could get stranded, which causes concerns about hypothermia and frostbite.

"Man, people can freeze to death before you can get them off the lift," McKay added.

McKay said they've turned nearly 3 million gallons of water into manmade snow for the mountain, and their base is a now at about 1.5 feet.

"You know, we're getting things shaping up on the lower end of it."

Snowbowl employees said the forecast is making opening tomorrow unlikely.

They said they'll let the public know their plans for opening day as soon as possible.

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