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Another minor weather system is expected to drop a few inches of snow on Pacific Northwest ski and snowboard areas by Friday, with the heaviest in the northern Cascades.

While the brief snowfall is a welcome sight, it still doesn’t change what has turned out to be one of the driest winter seasons in a long time.

“It has been a tough year so far, and it’s definitely in the bottom 10,” said John Gifford, president of the Pacific Northwest Ski Areas Association. “We’ve seen others like the (2004-05) season, which was the worst.”

On a positive note, Gifford mentioned that many Washington resorts have been able to stay open due to the colder weather, and operators have kept what little snow they have on the slopes in good shape.

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“From what I’ve been told the skiing and snowboarding has been quite good at the higher elevation areas like Stevens, White Pass and Baker,” Gifford said. “I feel for the struggles at places like The Summit (at Snoqualmie), and areas in Oregon — Mount Ashland, Willamette, Hoodoo and Mount Hood Skibowl — that haven’t been able to open up as well.”

High pressure will prevail this weekend, but forecasters are predicting another stronger storm is expected to arrive next week bringing more snow. The long term weather outlook is favorable and back to more normal precipitation.

The Mount Baker Ski Area is open daily 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., and received a trace of snow. All lifts were operating and the main runs were in good condition, but watch out for terrain changes and unmarked obstacles. The Heather Meadows base is 52 inches, and the Pan Dome depth has risen to 68 inches.

Mission Ridge Ski & Board Resort is open daily 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. It has mid-mountain coverage of 11 inches and 22 inches on the summit, but is boosted in places by a snow-making system. Surface conditions on runs were good and will change with the colder weather. Night skiing is offered until 8 p.m. Saturday.

Crystal Mountain Resort is open daily 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. with 13 inches on the base and 45 inches on the summit. Lifts open are the Chinook Express, Discovery, Forest Queen Express, Crystal Gondola, Green Valley, High Campbell, Quicksilver and Rainier Express.

Stevens Pass Resort is open daily 9 a.m. to 10 p.m. through Saturday, until 6 p.m. Sunday and until 4 p.m. Monday and Tuesday. Lifts open are Seventh Heaven, Brooks, Daisy, Hogsback, Skyline and Tye Mill, SkyLine. Groomer’s choice run of the day is SkyLine. In Mill Valley, the new Jupiter Express and Southern Cross lifts were closed Thursday. Stevens has a base of 31 inches and 50 inches on the summit.

White Pass is open daily 8:45 a.m. to 4 p.m., and has base coverage of 10 to 20 inches, with 47 inches on the summit. Lifts open are Couloir Express, Basin Quad, Chair 4, Great White, Platter, Far East and the Carpet.

The Summit at Snoqualmie’s hillsides remain closed, but the tubing area is open 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. through Saturday and until 5:45 p.m. Sunday. Summit West usually opens when it has accumulated a base of about 24 inches, and Alpental requires a base of at least 4 feet. Summit West has a 10-inch base, and Alpental is covered with a 14-inch base and 67 inches on the summit.

East of the Cascades, 49 Degrees North Mountain Resort is open daily 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., with night skiing Saturday until 8 p.m. It received a trace of snow with more coming down, and has a 14-inch base and 39-inch summit.

The Methow Valley Sport Trails Association groomed the community trail from Browns Farm west to Mazama and Freestone. Rendezvous was also groomed from the Cub Creek trailhead and main trails from the Chickadee trailhead at Sun Mountain. There are almost 100 kilometers of trails groomed throughout the region.

The Mount Spokane Ski Area is open daily through Tuesday 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., with night skiing Thursday to Saturday until 9:30 p.m. Ski Bluewood is open daily 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. through Sunday, with a 10-inch base and a 30-inch summit snow depth, and 12 trails groomed.

The Leavenworth Winter Sports Club big tow/intermediate skill hill is open 9:30 a.m. to 6 p.m., and the tubing park is also open. The Tumwater Campground area is groomed and open for cross-country skiing. or 206-464-8780

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