CHARLEMONT, MA (WGGB/WSHM) -- Recent studies have shown that winter is impacted most by the changing climate, becoming the fastest warming season.
In fact, it is warming three times faster than summer.
Cold temperatures and snowfall are crucial for winter businesses.
Less snow and warmer winter days aren't exactly friendly to ski resorts, but Berkshire East has tailored its operations, so skiiers can carve up its slopes.
Western Massachusetts may be having one of its best ski seasons ever this year. An incredibly cold November set the stage for early openings for area resorts like Berkshire East in Charlemont.
"We opened November 15 and for us to stay open to the second week in April is not that hard...We will probably have our longest season ever," said Berkshire East general manager Jon Schaefer.
That's a remarkable statement, considering winter temperatures for western Massachusetts are nearly four degrees higher than 50 years ago.
Warmer conditions reduce natural snow chances, potentially cutting the ski season in half by 2050, according to a 2018 study by the University of Oregon and the EPA.
Schaefer said because they are so dependant on weather, they had to adapt to the conditions.
"What we try to do is take advantage of shorter and short weather windows," Schaefer explained.
Intense shots of cold air have become less common in western Massachusetts. Data compiled by Climate Central shows Springfield receives five fewer consecutive days below average during arctic outbreaks than winters in the 70s.
Simply put, the cold is quicker to leave now than back then.
So where Mother Nature falls short, Berkshire East has upped its game by investing in renewable energy and more efficient snow guns.
"We have reduced our snowmaking time on trails. Big Chief, when I started in 2008, would take about 10 days to open up. Now, it's 24-36 hours," Schaefer noted.
It's not just hedging for the changes in winter. Berkshire East has flipped it's entire business model.
"A decade ago, we were 100 percent a winter business. Now, we're about a 55 percent a summer business and our winter business has grown. We've invested heavily in rafting, downhill mountain biking, ziplining...Making it a desitination that people want to be at 365 versus 80 to 100 days in the winter time," Schaefer added.
So no matter if it's a sunny summer afternoon or cold winter morning, the future is bright for Berkshire East.
"It's an uphill/downhill business, no matter how you look at it," Schaefer said.
Nationwide, winter businesses make up a $20 billion industry. The bulk of that spending comes from the ski resorts