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Hundreds of skiers and snowboarders snuck up to play hookie Thursday for the long-overdue opener of the fresh powder season at Mt. Hood Meadows.

The main parking lot filled up early, and late-comers had to settle for the Sunrise Lot. Visibility was sketchy, and there were rocks and logs and stumps not far beneath the surface. Lift lines were long. The upper mountain was closed for storm recovery.

None of that mattered. What mattered was the snow: excellent all day, soft and light and silky, and plenty for everyone.

It snowed a foot to bring the base at Meadows to 37 inches by 1 pm and 46 inches at Timberline the base is up to 46 inches. Skibowl got hit with rain again before finally getting into the game with a few inches of fresh snow and a promise of more to come this weekend.

A winter storm warning from the national Weather Service is predicting the heaviest snow storm of the winter to  his the Cascades this weekend, starting with rain Friday and turning to snow Saturday. The snow level should drop from 6,000 feet Friday to below 3,000 feet Saturday, bringing snow at a rate of two inches per hour.

We certainly need it. As of a few days ago, Mount Hood was suffering through its worst snow winter in years. Skibowl still has not opened its upper mountain, and the mountain calender of events is packed with confusion between all the cancellations and postponements for lack of snow.

Could this be the weekend that gets winter back on track?

We shall see.

Here's a shot I took of Tommy Ellingson doing his thing in the sweet snow:

And here is a video from Meadows showing just how good that snow was: