A strong weather system will arrive by Saturday bringing moderate to heavy snowfall heading into early next week.
Snowflakes will return soon to the weather forecast — a welcome sight from the bitter cold temperatures — and early indications show business and snowfall at local ski areas 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).”
A strong weather system will arrive by Saturday bringing moderate to heavy snowfall heading into early next week, and a snow level in the Cascades hovering between 1,000 and 2,500 feet.
The first wave of snow through Sunday is expected to drop 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.
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The 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 the 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 Lake Wenatchee State Park, Echo Ridge Nordic Ski Area, Methow Valley, Leavenworth Winter Sports Club, White Pass, Stevens Pass and Cabin Creek located east of Snoqualmie.
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 ranger-led snowshoe walks.
Places like the Summit at Snoqualmie and Stevens Pass Resort have snowshoe rentals for those who want to romp around the trails without committing to buying their own gear.
Many Washington Sno-Parks have good snowshoe trails, and locations within a short driving distance from Seattle are Hyak, Cabin Creek or Gold Creek at Snoqualmie.
Open daily in British Columbia are Cypress (119-inch base); Whistler Blackcomb (74); Mount Seymour (100-132); Grouse (112-133); Whitewater (69); Revelstoke (41-74); Hudson Bay (37-49); Big White (62); Sun Peaks (41-54); Silver Star (31-54); Kicking Horse (20-42); Fernie (33-71); Panorama (17-35); and Red (57).
Open daily in Idaho are Lookout Pass (101-118); Schweitzer (32-57); Tamarack (31-46); Sun Valley (52-68); Brundage (35-50); Bogus Basin (51); Silver (42-48); and Pomerelle (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 (68); Anthony Lakes (46); Timberline (104); Mount Hood Ski Bowl (56-71); and Cooper Spur (23).
Source: Ski resorts and www.skiwashington.com