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Snowfall off, ski areas turn to technology

Lee Willey moved mountains of man-made snow with a snow groomer at Loon Mountain. An HKD tower gun sent out man-made snow near the base of the mountain.
Lee Willey moved mountains of man-made snow with a snow groomer at Loon Mountain. An HKD tower gun sent out man-made snow near the base of the mountain.Photos by Fred Field for the Boston Globe

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LINCOLN, N.H. — Just a few inches of snow had fallen in central New Hampshire, but a week after Halloween, skiers were schussing down the slopes of Loon Mountain Resort.

It was the earliest top-to-bottom opening ever for Loon, aided by tehcnological advances that have allowed ski resorts to make snow faster, more efficiently, and at higher temperatures than ever. Such advances are becoming critical to the region’s ski industry as climatologists predict warmer winters and less frequent snowfall. One dire forecast predicts that more than half of the 103 resorts in the Northeast will be out of business over 30 years if global temperatures rise as expected.

As a result, equipment manufacturers are investing millions to advance and adapt their technology to a warmer world.

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