One recent unseasonably warm morning, Lakp Weedor was one of several people peering down into the ice rink in Dilworth Park at Philadelphia City Hall.
“I’m just thinking whether it’s real or it’s fake or why would it still be there and not melting,” Weedor said.
With temperatures about 20 degrees higher that usual these days, forecasters say a “white Christmas” has a snowball’s chance this year, but fear not — many wintry businesses in our region are not feeling the heat, including local ice rinks.
“There’s no danger of the ice melting,” said Linda Harris, communications director for Center City District, which manages the ice rink at Dilworth Park.
The secret is glycol – it’s antifreeze like the kind in your car.
A 200-ton chiller pumps the glycol out at less than 10 degrees and moves the liquid through five miles of tubing under the rink. The glycol absorbs the heat – keeping the ice solid – and heads back to the chiller at 12 degrees where it cools back down and the cycle begins again.
The RiverRink on the Delaware River waterfront employs a similar closed-loop cooling system, except the tubing is placed over a bed of sand, according to spokeswoman Emma Freed-Cassorla.
Harris said the balmy weather hasn’t kept skaters away.
“People have been coming out and wearing their shorts,” she said, “And yesterday, a guy had on his flip fops and he went from his flip-flops into his ice skates and he thought that was hilarious.”
Higher temperatures haven’t been a big problem for Pennsylvania’s Christmas tree industry either, although Delaware County farmer Norm Schultz said some sellers of cut trees are finding older ones still on the lot are drier than normal. Customers may also see some brown needles on freshly cut trees — Schultz said those are 2-year-old needles that usually shed during the first cold snap, which hasn’t happened yet.
“For us it [warm weather] actually helps us,” he said. “People say, ‘Oh the snow’s great. It puts us in the mood,’ but when it’s snowing, less people come out and cut trees.”
Bob Colavita, who owns a Christmas tree farm in lower Bucks County, recommends keeping an eye on your wreaths.
“The wreaths need moisture, they need frost and when frost doesn’t happen, the wreaths may brown,” he said.
Colavita recommends spraying your wreaths, garlands and other loose greens with water to keep them from drying out.
But it’s Pennsylvania’s ski resorts that are having the hardest time this holiday season — an industry that is already adapting to the impact of climate change.
Several resorts in the Lehigh Valley and the Poconos, such as Bear Creek and Shawnee, haven’t been able to make enough snow to open for the season. In the meantime, Blue Mountain Resort in Carbon County is holding a video contest for the best “snow dance.”
— Blue Mountain Resort (@skibluemountain) December 10, 2015