Is This Weekend The End of The Ski Season?

March 13, 2015

The short answer is…possibly.  At the least I am confident skiing terrain on Mt. Hood will become much more limited after this weekend’s rain.

This has been a brutal ski season, Mt. Hood Skibowl says it is the worst they have seen since the 1950s!  And as I detailed in a blog posting 8 days ago, we are now entering uncharted territory.  We’ve never seen snow conditions this bad on March 15th and beyond.  And there is no sign of a cool and wet pattern.

WHERE WE ARE NOW:

  • 3 of the 6 main ski areas in the central/northern Oregon Cascades have been closed since early January.  That’s Hoodoo, Willamette Pass, & Mt. Hood Ski Bowl.
  • I don’t see those ski areas reopening this year, they are likely done.  There is no weather pattern in the next two weeks that would produce the 3 feet of snow needed.  Plus on average in late March there is more melting than accumulation at 4,000-5,000′.
  • Timberline has 3 of their main lifts shutdown: Pucci, Jeff Flood Express, & Molly’s.
  • Meadows isn’t operating Heather Canyon & Hood River Express.
  • The lower parts of both of these ski areas have large bare sections.  Grooming crews have done a spectacular job moving snow around this season, but there isn’t any more to move in to cover those lower areas.  We’ve seen more and more grass/soil appear on the webcams.
  • There is plenty of snow up around 6,000′ and above, but how to you get skiers back down from those spots if you can’t ski back down?

MarkSnow_MtHood_Totals

THIS WEEKEND:

  • Heavy rain…1-3″ will fall on Mt. Hood with temperatures above freezing almost the entire time.  A warm and thin snowpack, that’s been exposed to two weeks of warm sunshine and temps in the 40s/50s won’t handle that very well.
  • Possibly some fresh snow (a few inches) Sunday above 6,000’…MAYBE

NEXT WEEK:

  • More warmer than normal weather…melting will continue up on the mountain, especially the later half of the week
  • No new snow, although NEXT weekend there are hints of some cooler weather and snow showers up there.

As a result…

THERE WILL BE SIGNIFICANTLY LESS SNOW ON THE GROUND A WEEK FROM NOW WHEN OREGON’S SPRING BREAK BEGINS.  Combine that with the already bare areas mentioned above and that’s a big problem.  There is a very real possibility that for the first time on record (that I know of) there will be very limited skiing on Mt. Hood for the start of spring break.

Chief Meteorologist Mark Nelsen