A slope lacking snow at Pando Ski Area.
ROCKFORD, Mich. (WZZM) - The recent lack of snow is threatening some of West Michigan's attractions, according to some scientists.
Climate researchers tell the New York Times that dry, mild winter weather could have long-term impact on ski areas, even forcing many of them to completely vanish.
Friday is opening day at Pando Ski Area, but only one of its seven slopes are open.
"We've been struggling to have cold air to make snow," says Dan Smith, co-owner of Pando Ski Area.
For Smith, it brings back memories of last year's lack of snow.
"Last year blindsided us a little bit," says Smith.
According to the New York Times, scientists who believe in climate change predict it will eventually cause many ski areas to completely vanish.
During this mild season, Pando is relying more on snow-making machines. Smith says the machines aren't just costly, but they are also no replacement for mother nature.
"We call it the 'windowsill effect' -- for people in town, if they don't see snow in their yard, they're not going to think, 'Let's go ski or tube'," says Smith.
The lack of natural snow is also slowing down plans for future improvements at Pando, like an expansion to the tube hill.
"We had to sit back and say, 'Maybe we can't go ahead with these plans at this point, because we really don't know where the weather is taking us'," says Smith.
Smith says colder weather is needed to keep the snow, whether it is man-made or not.
Pando's owner says season ticket passes are also down this year. He believes that's because some customers are scared off by last year's lack of snow.
It should be noted that not all scientists believe in climate change. In fact, some believe climate change will actually lead to an increase in snowfall.