Let’s get that first question out-of-the-way. NO, it’s unlikely the ski season is over. Especially since it’s only February 5th! But it appears the worst conditions (thinnest snow pack) we’ve seen since the season opened around December 22nd are on the way over the next 10 days.
Where We Are Now:
- Little or no snow is on the ground below 5,000′ on Mt. Hood
- Lower ski areas were only open for 10-14 days this season around the New Year and have been shutdown for almost a month.
- Only 3 ski areas are operating in the Oregon Cascades, all with limited lifts & terrain. Just yesterday Mt. Bachelor announced two of its lifts (Outback and NW Express) are shut down until new snow arrives. Two main lifts at Timberline are unusable for the same reason (Molly’s & Flood). It appears Mt. Hood Meadows can’t use the Stadium, Hood River Meadows, or Heather Canyon lifts. I see Nordic skiing has closed at Meadows too. Skibowl is now just operating its tubing area on man-made snow from the cold spell in early January. But hey…the Alpine Slide could open early at this rate!
- More rain with snow levels above 6,000′ Friday, Sunday, & most of Monday = More melting
- Snow levels lower to around 5,500′ Saturday with a few inches possible above that elevation
- 2-4″ possible as cooler air arrives later Monday and early Tuesday
- Warm ridging with temps into 40s again, along with sunshine, Wednesday and beyond next week = More melting
Depending on exactly how the next 5 days play out, it’s possible we see even more cutbacks in terrain/lifts after this event.
I see no pattern change in the next 2+ weeks, and that puts us into the last week of February. There won’t be a “February Miracle” for the ski resorts this year. And of course we have no idea what’s coming in March, although there aren’t any indications the pattern is going to break down. It’s always possible the best skiing this year will be later in March or April.
Traditionally Spring Break is considered the end of the ski season, for obvious reasons…skiing is a winter sport. But the Cascades almost always have more snow on the ground in April than December. The problem is that interest drops dramatically because spring is here in the lowlands and attention turns to warm-season pursuits.
Alright, enough of that. Let’s talk rain and wind this weekend.
There are no big wind storms or flooding coming up the next few days, but we’ll see plenty of rain and breezy conditions at times.
I see two systems that give us a surge of wind at the Coast and into the valley. One early Saturday and another early Monday. Both of those could produce gusts 50-70 mph at the Coast and 25-35 mph in the valleys. Nothing we haven’t seen already this season but we also haven’t seen active weather since around the New Year.
Our RPM rain totals (which often run a little high) show 2-3″ the next 3 days, so 2″ or so seems like a good forecast for most of us in the lowlands. That won’t produce flooding, but creeks and rivers will rise quite a bit. Your yard may become a pond for a while!
Chief Meteorologist Mark Nelsen