Watch CBSN Live

Warm Weather Drives U.S. Balmy

It's an eerie sight for the fourth of December, but even in Colorado some ski resorts have ground to a halt. At others crews were lugging buckets of snow out of the woods in a desperate attempt to just to keep cross country trails open, CBS News Correspondent Elizabeth Kaledin reports.

"We're just praying for snow, hoping to do whatever we can to get the snow gods with us," said Rob Weeks of the Breckenridge Nordic Center.

Another of the nation's coldest corners is suffering a similar fate. They're water skiing in Minnesota and ice fishing huts are lined up patiently waiting for ice. Minnesota's $100 million winter tourism industry is slowly melting away.

From the mountains to the lakes to the big cities, this unseasonably warm weather may be good for the soul but it's been bad for business.

Retail analyst Walter Loeb says the weather is particularly troubling to retailers who were forecasting a profitable holiday season.

"People are not shopping for cold weather merchandise - boots, scarves, sweaters or coats," Loeb said. "It's really upsetting for many retailers."

Since last week, nationwide sales are down 20 percent on winter items. Shoppers are more interested in working on their tans.

"I don't want to shop. I don't want to work. I just want to lie here in the sun like a lizard, that's it," said one woman.

Even if it does get cold soon, businesses dependent on each precious day of holiday spending will still be sweating it out, waiting to see if these warm temperatures add up to another year of luke warm profits.

In some parts of the country, though, there were some notable exceptions to the exceptionally balmy weather.

Heavy snow hit parts of Utah, Idaho, Wyoming and Montana. And there was a mammoth snowfall overnight at Mammoth Mountain, California. There was so much new snow, in fact, that a women's World Cup skiing event was put off until plowing crews could clear the course.

©1998 CBS Worldwide Corp. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed