When Northfield resident Rebecca Zarback brought a group of family members with young children to the Polar Blast snow tubing park on Thursday, she forced the kids to wear coats at first.
It wasn’t long before they lost their outer layers as they dragged their tubes from the bottom of the hill back to the motorized conveyor belt that delivered them to the top.
"It’s too hot to make them walk up with jackets," Zarback said.
Hot. In December. In Northeast Ohio.
Temperatures reached the low 60s with the sun shining in Akron on Thursday, continuing a warm spell across the region that is expected to last into the weekend.
While warm weather is generally detrimental to snow, the area’s winter sports activities, including ice skating at Lock 3 in Akron, continued Thursday — minus the parkas.
"We do see larger crowds come out when it’s warmer," said Thomas Conti, director of public relations for Boston Mills and Brandywine Ski Resorts in Boston Township, which also own the tubing park.
Families with younger kids in particular, he noted, tend to enjoy skiing and tubing more when they don’t have to worry about freezing fingers, toes and faces.
The ski hills have a base of about two feet of snow, Conti said, and a few days in the sun won’t hurt that.
"Really the warmth doesn’t affect it as much as you think," he said. "We can definitely endure a couple of warm days."
Rain, however, can close the hills, which just opened for the season on Dec. 20.
Rain is in the forecast for late Saturday into Sunday, National Weather Service meteorologist Doug Kahn said.
Some winds out of the south have kept the area warmer than usual, but that will change once a storm system comes through the region this weekend, he said. Temperatures will be about normal, in the 30s and 40s, by next week.
And don’t let the mild winter thus far fool you, Kahn said.
"A lot could change. It could be really cold and stormy the latter part of the winter," he said.
Keeping that thought in mind, many families on winter break flocked to the ski hills Thursday to take advantage of the warmer weather.
Greg and Shannon Jasinski and their sons Wyatt, 6, and Dylan, 5, came from South Carolina for the holiday week.
"The day we left was colder than this," Greg Jasinski said. They were pleasantly surprised to find the tubing hill open despite the warm temperatures.
"I said we’d give it a shot," he said.
The sun beating down on the top layer of snow did make for some slush down the hills, slowing down the tubes a bit.
"People aren’t really making it all the way down the hill," Zarback said.
Her family members were also visiting from the Carolinas.
Lucas and Alissa Cole came with their 5-year-old daughter, Capri, from Wilmington, North Carolina, for the holiday. Lucas Cole resorted to sledding down the hill in his T-shirt.
But for the former Akron residents, even slushy snow was a sight to see.
"This is the most snow we’re going to get all year," he said.
Contact education reporter Jennifer Pignolet at firstname.lastname@example.org, at 330-996-3216 or on Twitter @JenPignolet.