"We went out to dinner the other night," Sugar Mountain Resort's Kim Jochl said, "and the restaurant owner said, ‘I'm glad you guys came in. It's going to be real slow this week because the weather is too pretty.'

"What she meant is that when we get temperatures in the 50s lots of people think it's too pretty to ski in the South, that there won't be any snow left in the mountains," Jochl said.

"I say on our website that we have a base of 40 to 100 inches, and everything's open,  but we still get calls and e-mails from people wondering if we still have skiing. There's a lot of winter left," she said.

Weather forecasters in the region's metro areas underscore questions in the minds of urban dwellers, by reporting local conditions of warmth and rain, while not pointing out that plenty of snow remains in the mountains.

"They don't intend to flatten the ski business," Jochl said, "but that's one impact of their forecasts when they say winter's over. They're speaking to people who are looking forward to getting out in shorts and sunglasses, without thinking about the impact of their words on skiers and snowboarders and ski areas."

Jochl wondered whether people in the West and Northeast might be more in tune with the durability of winter in the mountains.

"Our skiers aren't trained to think, ‘Oh, temps in the 50s, that's spring skiing.'

"It's even a little more confusing to them this year because we had spring conditions in February," Jochl said.

"People are saying winter's over and they can't go skiing, and we're hoping to have another month of winter," she said.

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