New Mexico Skier Visits Down 26.2 %

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Santa Fe, NM, April 25--New Mexico ski resorts posted their second worst seasonever as total visits for 1999-2000 came in at 645,550, a 26.2 percent drop from the previous season's total of 874,617. The drop makes the 1998-1999 season the third worst on record with the 1980-1981 season's 509,455 visits retaining the distinction of being the worstever.

"This was the warmest, driest year on record," said SkiNew Mexico's Steve Lewis, "so it was a very unusual winter for us." Lewis said that while the early season was a struggle for the state's resorts, "we had good snow in March and ended the season with the best conditions of the year."

According to the National Weather Service's Albuquerque office, the paltry snow in the Southwest was due to the La Nina cooling trend over the tropical Pacific that typically spells drought for the region.

But forecasters have said the effects of that climate cycle, which accounted for 33 percent of the normal snowfall expected in winter, should be ending and the coming winter should bring "normal to above-normal" precipitation. While New Mexico's resorts are all reportedly solid financially, none have planned large capital projects this summer with the exception of Ski Santa Fe, which is expected to expand its snowmaking.