Asit Rathod knows Mount Hood.
The great season-opening snowstorm that we've all been waiting for has not quite materialized, but Mount Hood did pick up enough snow over Thanksgiving to allow limited openings at Timberline and Mt. Hood Meadows this weekend.
Timberline is reporting a 28-inch base depth at the lodge and plans to run the Bruno and Pucci chairlifts over the holiday weekend with limited terrain open for skiing and snowboarding.
Mt. Hood Meadows is reporting a 12-inch base down low and an 18-inch at 6,250 feet, with plans to run Buttercup, Easy Rider and Daisy over the weekend.
Skibowl had hoped to open its tubing hill on Saturday, but thin snow levels torpedoed those plans.
At least the snow didn't deteriorate into rain, as it has been known to do on Mount Hood in November. Also, the storm system is not finished. The weekend NOAA forecast calls for 9-19 inches of new snow on the mountain
It does need to be said, however, that the NOAA forecast has erred on the upside consistently all month. The 9-19 inches predicted for Thanksgiving did not materialize and dropped 3-6 inches instead, depending on elevation.
Rod Hill is forecasting 6-9 inches of new snow Saturday and sunshine on Sunday.
Temira is taking a more skeptical look at the weather models, predicting a mix of heavy Cascade Concrete and possibly some rain over the weekend. She is, however, more optimistic about the storm system rolling in for Sunday and Monday, predicting 9-12 inches falling on the mountain Monday.
We shall see. The good news is that we have not received any of those Mount Hood Monsoons that drown out all early season snowpack gains. Knock on wood. Bit by bit, we are inching ever deeper toward what could be an excellent snow year.
See you up there!
PS: As of Sunday morning at 8:18, the National Weather Service is issuing a winter storm warning for heavy snow Sunday evening accumulating at the rate of 2-3 inches per hour and delivering a foot or more at the passes and two feet at higher elevations.
Bring it on.
Also, Meadows sent out a press release Sunday at noon announcing its intention to run daily lift operations starting Monday, November 28. The press release in full:
Mt. Hood Meadows intends to continue daily operations Monday pending receiving more snow from a major storm forecast for tonight and tomorrow.
Chief Operating Officer Jake Bolland says this is a qualified statement, explaining, “We need to see how much snow we get out of this storm, which is forecast to bring us a foot or two through tomorrow. Unfortunately the previous forecasts have not produced the snowfall, so we will confirm our operating plan first thing Monday morning. We intend to continue with at least our current three lift operation, but could add more lifts and more terrain if we receive the snow.”
Bolland also says if the forecast is a complete miss, or if the temperatures warm, Meadows may halt Monday operations, emphasizing the need to check the website (SkiHood.com) Monday morning.
Mountain crews have prepped upper mountain lifts, track-packing/grooming, ramp building, chair seat installation, avalanche mitigation efforts, running rope/closures, and wrapping tower-pads.
Bolland said if the forecast does hold true, the most hopeful scenario would be extending lift operations to the Mt. Hood Express and Shooting Star Express lifts, which would open up a substantial amount of terrain. He cautions that it is still a shallow, early season snowpack with a lot of unmarked obstacles, saying, "We definitely need more snow to open up more of the mountain."
Meadows received a total of 14 inches of snow this week (from an initial forecast of four to six FEET) and with its snow harvesting efforts managed to open and operate three lifts (Buttercup, Easy Rider and Daisy, plus the Ballroom Carpet) since Friday. The ski area reports a base area depth of 12 inches, with 18 inches at mid-mountain.