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Ski season continues into April


Snowy recreation areas extend already strong season

Spring skiers don’t need to put away the boards yet.

Skiing is free at 49 Degrees North through Sunday; Schweitzer Mountain Resort has extended its season for another week; Stevens Pass will be open through April 14; and Silver Mountain Resort will be open Saturdays throughout April, weather permitting.

“We had some excellent snow conditions … and we’ve had a high amount of interest, a lot of skiers coming to the mountain. So we decided to try another week,” said Sean Briggs, Schweitzer Mountain Resort marketing coordinator.

This is the first time in five years the North Idaho resort has extended its season, Briggs said. Lift ticket prices will be reduced from $68 to $55.

Mt. Spokane Ski and Snowboard Park also has reduced prices and closes Sunday, ending the spring ski season on a high note. Skiers blazed down the slopes in swimsuits under sunny skies during spring break, and the ski and snowboard park had a record year for visitors, said Brad McQuarrie, general manager.

“We had a great year,” McQuarrie said. “But with the temps we’ve had, it’s becoming pretty bare pretty quick.”

He added, “Most of Mt. Spokane is south-facing, so we get the brunt of solar decay.”

Resort managers reported ideal ski conditions this year, with regular doses of snow throughout the season and lots of powder in December.

The winter also has created a decent snowpack, and despite recent warm weather, not too much flooding is expected, said John Livingston, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service.

Snowpack for the Idaho Panhandle is at 98 percent of normal and the Spokane River Basin is 85 percent of normal, Livingston said. The upper Columbia is at 102 percent.

“It’s lower than the last two years, but that means the chances are good the runoff will be normal,” he said. “But a heavy rain event coupled with more warm temperatures could bring it down faster and lead to flooding; whether that will happen remains to be seen over the next six to eight weeks.”

However, the St. Joe River at St. Maries and Coeur d’Alene River at Cataldo are expected to move into the action stage – the first level toward flood stage – after today, which is typical for those rivers, Livingston said.

Weather can be volatile though. Temperatures are beginning to cool, moisture has moved in and snow levels are dropping, weather officials predict. With that, the mountains could receive yet another dusting of snow for skiers to enjoy.

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