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Snowflakes will return soon to the weather forecast, a welcome change from the dry, bitter cold, while reports from ski resorts show business and snowfall are well above expectations.

“I’ve been hearing business and turnout is up everywhere, and in some cases it is up as much as 20 to 30 percent from last year,” said John Gifford, the president of the Pacific Northwest Ski Areas Association. “The other good news is snowfall is up 105 to 148 percent of the annual average (through Dec. 31).”

The extremely cold temperatures are expected to moderate after Friday, and a strong weather system will arrive by Saturday – the snow level in the Cascades will rise from 1,000 to 2,500 feet – bringing moderate to heavy snow through early next week.

Catching big air in fresh powder at Mount Baker Ski Area. Photo courtesy of Mount Baker Ski Area.

The first wave is expected to bring anywhere from 3 to 9 inches of snow and will help cover up the icy hillsides. Another system will drop even more snow heading into Monday.

Expected snowfall through Sunday is 4 to 6 inches at Mount Baker Ski Area; 4 to 8 inches at Stevens Pass; 3 to 7 inches at the Summit at Snoqualmie; 5 to 9 inches at Crystal Mountain; and 4 to 8 inches at White Pass.

Loup Loup Ski Bowl – located between Twisp and Okanogan on Highway 20 – is open daily from 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Conditions were excellent on the North Summit and Bear Mountain Nordic trails, and base area is open for snowshoeing.

The Hurricane Ridge Ski and Snowboard Area in Olympic National Park is open Saturday and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., weather conditions permitting.

Cross-country trail conditions remain excellent at locations such as Lake Wenatchee State Park, Echo Ridge Nordic Ski Area (near Lake Chelan), Methow Valley, Leavenworth Winter Sports Club, White Pass, Stevens Pass and Cabin Creek, located east of Snoqualmie.

A cross-country skier treks through the Echo Ridge Nordic Ski Area. The area offers 25 miles of trails. About 70 percent of the trails are dedicated to cross-country skiing and are looped on a series of ridge tops with scenic views of Lake Chelan and the North Cascades.

Non-skiers can also find plenty of fun activities that include tubing, sledding and snowshoeing.

Top choices for tubing or sledding are the Paradise snow-play area at Mount Rainier National Park; Summit at Snoqualmie tubing center; Leavenworth Winter Sports Club; Hurricane Ridge; Stevens Pass; Lake Wenatchee State Park; Mount Spokane; Suncadia Tubing Hill, near Cle Elum; Hyak Sno-Park; and Echo Valley.

For snowshoeing, Mount Rainier National Park, Mount Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest and Hurricane Ridge offer guided ranger-led snowshoe walks.

The Summit at Snoqualmie and Stevens Pass Resort also offer snowshoe rentals for those who want to romp around the trails without committing to buying their own gear. Snowshoers can head to trails on their own at many Washington Sno-Parks, and places within a short driving distance from Seattle are Hyak, Cabin Creek or Gold Creek, at Snoqualmie Pass.

Holly Sato of Seattle is all smiles after finding fresh powder at Stevens Pass Resort. Photo courtesy of Jameson Florence.

In Montana, Whitefish Resort is open for the winter season with a 70-inch base with 101 trails open with 10 lifts operating (night skiing offered Friday and Saturday). Join Whitefish on Friday as they attempt to set the World’s Largest Lesson Record. A ski and ride package that day will cost only $49. Details:

Open daily in British Columbia are Cypress Mountain (119-inch base); Whistler Blackcomb Resort (74); Mount Seymour (100-132); Grouse Mountain (112-133); Whitewater Ski Resort (69); Mount Washington Alpine Resort (54); Revelstoke Mountain Resort (41-74); Hudson Bay Mountain (37-49); Big White (62); Sun Peaks (41-54); Silver Star (31-54); Kicking Horse (20-42); Fernie Alpine (33-71); Panorama Mountain (17-35); and Red Mountain Resort (57).

Tracy Unoki and her daughter Elisa glide down the inner-tube run at The Summit at Snoqualmie.

Open daily in Idaho are Lookout Pass (101-118); Schweitzer Mountain Resort (32-57); Tamarack Resort (31-46); Sun Valley (52-68); Brundage Mountain Resort (35-50); Bogus Basin (51); Silver Mountain (42-48); and Pomerelle Mountain Resort (70-81).

Open daily in Oregon are Mount Hood Meadows (78-146); Mount Bachelor (89-108); Mount Ashland (67-54); Willamette Pass (68-96); Hoodoo Ski Area (68); Anthony Lakes Mountain Resort (46); Timberline Lodge (104); Mount Hood Ski Bowl (56-71); Cooper Spur (23).

Latest snow and lift reports:

Which ski areas are open and closed:




Summit West, Snoqualmie Open: 4pm-10pm Thursday and Friday, and Jan. 11-13; 9am-10pm Saturday and Jan. 14; 9am-5pm Sunday and Jan. 15; closed Monday and Tuesday 56 inches

Summit Central, Snoqualmie Open: 9am-10pm Thursday to Saturday, and Jan. 8-15; 9am-5pm Sunday 56 inches

Summit East, Snoqualmie Open: 9am-3:30pm Saturday and Sunday, and Jan. 14-15; closed Thursday and Friday, and Jan. 8-13 56 inches

Nordic Center, Snoqualmie Open: 9am-3:30pm Friday to Sunday and Jan. 13-15; closed Thursday and Jan. 8-12 56 inches

Alpental, Snoqualmie Open: 9am-10pm Thursday to Saturday, and Jan. 10-14; 9am-4pm Sunday and Jan. 15; closed Monday 63-109 inches

Mount Baker Ski Area Open daily: 9am-3:30pm 104-154 inches

Crystal Mountain Open daily: 9am-4pm 47-62 inches

Stevens Pass Open daily: 9am-4pm; night skiing until 10 pm Thursday to Sunday, and Jan. 11-15 64-75 inches

White Pass Open daily: 8:45am-4pm; night skiing until 9 pm on Saturdays only 61-76 inches

Mission Ridge Ski & Board Open: 9am-4pm; closed Tuesday and Wednesday; and night skiing until 8 p.m. on Saturdays only 48-60 inches

49° North Mountain Open: 9am-3:30pm Friday to Tuesday; closed Wednesday and Thursday 50-69 inches

Mt. Spokane Ski & Snowboard Open: 9am-4pm Sunday; 9am-9:30pm Wednesday to Saturday; closed Monday and Tuesday 41-47 inches

Ski Bluewood Open: 9am-4pm Wednesday to Sunday 50-63 inches

Whistler-Blackcomb Open daily: 9am-5pm 74 inches

Mt. Bachelor Open daily: 9am-4pm 89-108 inches

Leavenworth Winter Sports Club Open: All nordic trails open daily; tubing open 9:30am-5pm Friday to Sunday; ski hill open 9:30am-6pm Friday to Sunday
 16 inches

Methow Trails Open daily: All nordic trails open at Sun Mountain, Rendezvous, Winthrop (Bob is closed) and Mazama 14 inches