We’re not talking about the kind of snow you typically see in the Pacific Northwest, but that light and fluffy stuff more common in places like Utah.

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After viewing the impending snow forecasts for the Cascades slopes, skiers and riders could find themselves waist deep in powder or in some cases up to their shoulders.

And we’re not talking about the concrete heavy and wet snow you typically see in the Pacific Northwest, but the light and fluffy stuff more common at places like Snowbird and Alta in the Wasatch Mountains of Utah.

A winter weather advisory remains in effect through early Saturday as the chilly Arctic air blast collides with precipitation that will likely bring moderate to heavy snowfall and strong winds.

The view from the base of Summit West at The Summit at Snoqualmie. Photo courtesy of The Summit at Snoqualmie.
The view from the base of Summit West at The Summit at Snoqualmie. Photo courtesy of The Summit at Snoqualmie.

Expect this to switch over to off-and-on light snow showers heading into Sunday. Snow levels start off near sea level through Friday before climbing back up to around 500 to 3,000 feet heading into the weekend.

Be careful driving to the mountains as the expected snowfall between late Thursday and Sunday will drop 17 to 35 inches of snow at Mount Baker; 17 to 37 inches at Stevens Pass; 17 to 35 inches at Alpental on Snoqualmie Pass; 22 to 44 inches at Crystal Mountain; and 19 to 38 inches at White Pass.

This is great news for all Washington ski areas already relishing excellent early-season conditions, including places like The Summit at Snoqualmie that are expanding operations to open Summit Central Friday through Dec. 18; and Summit West Thursday through Sunday, and Dec. 17-18. Alpental’s slopes open Saturday and Sunday, then reopen Dec. 15-18. All three areas will operate from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Summit West is also the first Pacific Northwest area to open for skiing under the night lights this Friday and Saturday from 4 to 10 p.m.

“We had a fantastic opening (Tuesday) with cold, dry-packed powder and deep-powder on certain parts of the mountain,” said Guy Lawrence, the marketing director at the Summit at Snoqualmie.

Skiing near Stevens Pass, Sunday, Dec. 4. (Caitlin Moran / The Seattle Times)
Skiing near Stevens Pass, Sunday, Dec. 4. (Caitlin Moran / The Seattle Times)

The Mount Baker Ski Area is open daily and still boasts one of the deepest snow bases in the United States – 73 inches at Heather Meadows base and 101 inches at Pan Dome.

Other areas open daily are Crystal Mountain Resort, Stevens Pass Resort and White Pass Ski Area. Mission Ridge Ski & Board Resort is open Friday through Sunday; 49 Degrees North Mountain Resort is open Friday through Tuesday; Mount Spokane Ski and Snowboard Park is open Friday through Sunday; and Ski Bluewood is open Friday through Sunday.

On the Olympic Peninsula, the Hurricane Ridge Ski & Snowboard Area will be open on weekends. For details, go to http://hurricaneridge.com/. Loup Loup Ski Area – located between Twisp and Okanogan on Highway 20- plans to open Dec. 16.

Many are excited for the potential of massive snow accumulations at Pacific Northwest ski areas this winter, and once again Mount Baker could lead in total snowfall. (Courtesy of Mount Baker Ski Area)
Many are excited for the potential of massive snow accumulations at Pacific Northwest ski areas this winter, and once again Mount Baker could lead in total snowfall. (Courtesy of Mount Baker Ski Area)

Cross country skiers are also getting geared up for what should be another great winter season. For more information, read my Sunday outdoors column at http://www.seattletimes.com/life/outdoors/new-snowfall-starting-to-open-regions-cross-country-ski-trails/.

In Montana, Whitefish Resort opened Wednesday for the winter season with a 52-inch base and 29 trails open shuttling passengers on three lifts.

Snowpack totals: In British Columbia, Whistler-Blackcomb Resort (61); Cypress Mountain (80); Mount Seymour (43-67); Revelstoke Mountain Resort (51); Grouse Mountain (46-61); Sun Peaks (32-44); Silver Star (18-43); Hudson Bay Mountain (33-47); Fernie Alpine (12-39); and Big White (45) are open daily. Kicking Horse (12-41) and Manning Park Resort (22-39) are open weekends only.

A ski glider comes in for a landing near the end of the Exterminator run at Crystal Mountain. (Lindsey Wasson/The Seattle Times)
A ski glider comes in for a landing near the end of the Exterminator run at Crystal Mountain. (Lindsey Wasson/The Seattle Times)

In Idaho, Schweitzer Mountain Resort (20-40); and Sun Valley (16) are open daily. Lookout Pass (34-40) is open Thursday to Sunday; and Silver Mountain (16-36) is open Friday to Sunday.

In Oregon, Mount Hood Meadows (48-85); Mount Bachelor (40-58); Mount Hood Skibowl (34-44); Timberline Lodge (72); and Mount Ashland (28-32). Anthony Lakes Mountain Resort (30-65) opens Saturday; Hoodoo Ski Area (41) opens Saturday; Warner Canyon Ski Area (6) opens Dec. 17; and Willamette Pass (30-33) reopens Saturday and Sunday.

Latest snow and lift reports:

Which ski areas are open and closed:


Resort

Hours

Base


Summit West, Snoqualmie Open: 9am-4pm Thursday to Sunday and Dec. 17-18; night skiing 4pm-10pm Saturday and Sunday 29 inches

Summit Central, Snoqualmie Open daily: 9am-4pm starting Friday 29 inches

Summit East, Snoqualmie Closed: Stay tuned for official opening date 29 inches

Nordic Center, Snoqualmie Closed: Stay tuned for official opening date 29 inches

Alpental, Snoqualmie Open: 9am-4pm Saturday and Sunday, and Dec. 15-18 34-80 inches

Mount Baker Ski Area Open daily: 9am-3:30pm 73-101 inches

Crystal Mountain Open daily: 9am-4pm 30-73 inches

Stevens Pass Open daily: 9am-4pm 38-86 inches

White Pass Opens daily: 8:45am-4pm 27-47 inches

Mission Ridge Ski & Board Open: 9am-4pm Friday to Sunday, and daily starting Dec. 16 18 inches

49° North Mountain Open: 9am-3:30pm Friday to Tuesday 17-28 inches

Mt. Spokane Ski & Snowboard Open: 9am-4pm Friday to Sunday 24-26 inches

Ski Bluewood Open: 9am-4pm starting Friday 25-37 inches

Whistler-Blackcomb Open daily: 9am-5pm 61 inches

Mt. Bachelor Open daily: 9am-4pm 40-58 inches

Leavenworth Winter Sports Club Closed: Opening TBD, but stay tuned with snow in the forecast it could be sooner than later
 0 inches

Methow Trails Closed: Opening TBD, snow packing has started on trails and they need about 6 inches to open 2-4 inches