Arrow-right Camera
The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Ski areas looking forward to more snow this month after strong end to 2019

Silhouetted against the afternoon sun, an alpine skier rides chairlift 5 to the top of Mt.  Spokane Ski and Snowboard Park on Thursday, Jan. 2, 2020. (Colin Mulvany / The Spokesman-Review)

Snow dumped on mountains across the Inland Northwest earlier this week, bringing upward of a foot of snow to ski areas that had seen a relatively slow, dry start to the season.

“A powder day to start off 2020 – it was pretty cool,” said Silver Mountain Resort spokesman Gus Colburn, who added the resort has seen 13 inches of new snow since New Year’s Eve.

Just about every chair lift at ski areas in the region was running Thursday – the latest among them Schweitzer’s Stella and new Cedar Park Express lifts. Most trails at resorts were open, or, if not, poised to be ready after more snow forecast for this month.

Snow was already falling in the Spokane area by Thursday evening. Mountains in the region were projected to see a range from 2 to 5 inches of snow overnight, according to National Weather Service meteorologist Robin Fox.

Mt. Spokane Ski and Snowboard Park general manager Brad McQuarrie said the Inland Northwest has been spoiled the last few years with above-average snowfall in 2018 and opening days in early November in 2017. This year the Mt. Spokane ski area, as well as many other ski areas, opened a week later than expected.

But all signs point to more snow on the way and a good ski season, McQuarrie said.

AccuWeather forecasts regional storms bringing heavy snow running through next week. The Old Farmer’s Almanac predicted above-average snow for the Northwest.

The NWS projects temperatures to fall during the next two weeks as more storms roll through the region, Fox said. The chance for above-average precipitation also is on the rise.

“We are going to be cooling down back to normal,” Fox said.

Mount Spokane was supposed to see 3 to 5 inches of snow overnight Thursday, according to NWS projections. Fifty-one of Mt. Spokane’s 54 trails were open Thursday and 30 were groomed, but several more inches of snow could change that, McQuarrie said.

“More snow Saturday, Sunday and Monday,” McQuarrie said. “That’s the type of patterns we like to see, and temperatures around 30 degrees.”

Schweitzer spokeswoman Dig Chrismer said skiers and snowboarders have come up to the resort knowing what the expect for early-season conditions. But thanks to good coverage at higher elevations and snow-making to fill in the gaps, Chrismer said visitors have been pleased.

Ninety-one out of 92 runs were open Thursday, and the resort has been open since the end of November. The NWS had forecast 3 to 5 inches of snow overnight Thursday, plus several more inches over the weekend.

“Now that we’re basically 100% open, (skiers) they’re stoked,” Chrismer said. “It’s only January. There’s still lots more winter to come, and we look forward to everyone coming up here.”

Lookout Pass had only two trails closed Thursday after the ski area received 3 inches of fresh snow on top of 20 inches from earlier in the week.

“Conditions are pretty sweet,” ski area spokesman Matt Sawyer said, adding that snow was forecast each day between Thursday and Saturday.

The NWS projected 2 to 4 inches overnight Thursday at Lookout Pass and 3 to 5 inches on Saturday.

The slopes also are shaping up at Silver Mountain Resort, spokesman Gus Colburn said. The NWS forecast 1 to 3 inches of snow Thursday night and tonight, plus potential for several more inches during the weekend.

“We have a lot of trails open, and we are opening more every day,” Colburn said.

Colburn said he expects the mountain’s most popular runs at the North Face Glades and Wardner Peak to open in the next week if forecasts hold.

Mountain resort 49 Degrees North reported 7 inches of new snow from earlier this week at its base and 15 inches at its summit. More than 40 trails were open to skiers Thursday, according to the ski area’s website.

The NWS forecast 2 to 4 inches of snow at 49 Degrees North overnight Thursday and light snow over the weekend.