Late October snowstorms transformed the Pacific Northwest and Northern Rockies into winter within one week. Resorts that were still organizing their hiring fairs suddenly found themselves tossed into a winter frenzy getting crews on the slopes to begin track-packing the base.
An onslaught of cold, moisture-laden weather rammed into the Pacific Northwest in late October, carrying snow across the Northern Rocky Mountains, too. The resorts are all agreeing: the snow has the right amount of moisture for making a good base for the season. Those resorts that permit preseason hiking for turns already had top-to-bottom tracks made before Halloween.
Many Oregon resorts saw two or three feet of snow before Halloween. The parking lots at Mt. Bachelor racked up 24 inches with about a foot more on the higher slopes of the mountain while Mt. Hood Meadows reported 25 inches mid-mountain.
Timberline Lodge, the only ski area open in the Pacific Northwest, received more than two feet of snow. The ski area, which is open year round except for September maintenance, is running several lifts as conditions permit Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays. The resort opened Thunder Park for the season Halloween weekend. Call the resort's snow phone to find out what lifts are operating.
Washington and British Columbia ski areas picked up their first significant snowfall, too. Crystal Mountain reported 18 inches while Mt. Baker Ski Area tallied up 28 inches at Heather Meadows. Sun Peaks Resort saw 17 inches of snowfall while Whistler Blackcomb recorded 27 inches falling in the alpine throughout the week with the snow line creeping down toward the village.
The storm roiled inland across the Northern Rockies. Sun Valley Resort and Schweitzer Mountain Resort picked up about one foot of snow early in the week. But the full force of the storm laid into Montana and Wyoming. Whitefish Mountain Resort reported almost four feet of snow falling during the last week of October, which caused skiers and riders in droves to hike to the summit for turns. Grand Targhee Resort on the west side of the Teton Mountains picked up two feet while Jackson Hole Mountain Resort on the east side of the range tallied 42 inches on the summit.
Many resorts are considering opening early, but need more snow. Snow compacts down, and the weather following the storms turned warm and wet. Keep posted with OnTheSnow for the latest conditions and details on opening days. Skiers and snowboarders hiking at resorts for early turns need to stay clear of grooming and snowmaking machinery for safety.
More information: Timberline Lodge, 503-222-2211.