Will There Be Skiing For Thanksgiving?

Good news this evening…there will be a limited opening at 3 Oregon Ski Areas tomorrow.  And I do mean LIMITED.

That said, you can go up, have some fun in the (ahhh…) sun, plus enjoy drinks/food/entertainment.  But you won’t slide on the snow too far.  At least it’s a start.

Timberline will open their Bruno beginner lift, Meadows has the Buttercup lift going, and Bachelor opens just a terrain park accessed by a lift.

You can see why the terrain will be limited to a few swaths of snow; the current snow depths at the base areas:

  • 10″ Mt. Hood Meadows
  • 15″ Mt. Bachelor
  • 19″ Timberline

Typically you need 25″ or more to open at least a few lifts and 50″ to open the majority of resort acreage.

So will we see SOME sort of real opening for Thanksgiving weekend?  It’s going to be a close call; totally dependent on just one more snow event in the next 8-10 days.  That’s later Monday and Tuesday.  Right now this is what I’m thinking:

MarkSnow_MtHoodFcstThe ECMWF and GEM models today were drier than this, but the GFS has been wetter (whiter?).  This 5-9″ forecast then is more or less an average of the two.

Assuming we get less than a foot, it’s still going to be tough to open another lift or two.  Since we don’t see any good system other than this in the next 10+ days,  all hope for some skiable terrain in the month of November is riding on Monday’s system.

Now you skiers/snowboarders don’t need to get all worked up (for now…) since it’s definitely not unusual to see ski areas remain closed over Thanksgiving.  Take a look at Mt. Hood Meadows base total from past years on November 25th (next Wednesday).  This year I’m guessing it’ll be 15-20″ by that time.


IGNORE THE BANNER, that is a graphic from a blog post last year at this time.

Look at 2007 and 2008!  Terrible start, but those were BIG snow years with great skiing, especially 2007-2008.  It just took awhile for things to get going.

So my gut feeling is that we will see extremely limited terrain available for snow play through the Thanksgiving Weekend.

Chief Meteorologist Mark Nelsen



63 Responses to Will There Be Skiing For Thanksgiving?

  1. Agree absolutely. None of the multicultural lefties can ever understand what makes freedom essential.

  2. Farmer Ted says:

    Have a happy thanksgiving all of you despite your many disappointments with the reality of weather in the NW.

    • Sifton says:

      Yeah, it seems reality is hard to come to terms with for some. I love valley snow here, but imho by the ‘middleish’ of this century it will disappear for good.

  3. paulbeugene says:

    4/3km mm5 GFS showing a skiff of snow on higher terrain on east side of Willamette Valley. Will have to wait and see about that.
    During El Niño years, SOI (southern oscillation index) using measurements, I think, from Tahiti and Darwin, are usually strongly negative. Records go back to 1876 for SOI. The strongest negative SOI ever recorded for October was way back in 1881 (-23.9 then). It was -20.2 in Oct 2015 (also in Oct 1982), -17.8 in Oct 1997.

    The average total seasonal snowfall at downtown PDX after Oct with SOI more negative than -15 has been 6.9″. Greatest was 17.4″ in 1992-93. I know that 92-93 was coming on heels of moderate El Niño and ONI was running around 0 (la nada) in the fall but who cares…I’m going only off of SOI values for purpose of this discussion.

    Only in 2 of the 12 winter seasons following ONI -15 or more negative have had low temps less than 18 at PDX…one of those was 1896, when it got to 11 in November.

    The winter of 1992-93 was interesting but it never got really cold in PDX, only 23F (it got into single digits in EUG then).

    This next week is quite likely to be the closest we get to an Arctic blast this cold season but we may yet see some “ugly duckling” winter weather scenarios where cold air pools east of cascades and lows sneak up from the SW for some overrunning winter precip. I think it is going to suck to live in Sandy and Gresham this winter.

  4. WEATHERDAN says:

    27 this morning with a fzl of 11,500. Sounds like inversion time. Strong Pacific cold front headed our way from the Gulf of Alaska. We have a decent shot of seeing a mix to the valley floor. It won’t stick but may make some roads that don’t see much sunshine icy Tuesday and Wednesday. To all of you. Peace, Salaam, Shalom. Happy Thanksgiving.

  5. Char says:

    This doesn’t have to do with skiing but I’m going to the coast Tuesday around 1 or 2pm (coming back Wednesday around 2pm) and going through highway 18…what’s the chance of much snow or ice through there? I’ve never driven that part of Oregon before so I’m a bit nervous.

  6. MasterNate says:

    Models keeping that modified air around longer it appears. Loving this cool dry sunshine!

  7. Wow… 12 ˚F warmer at 5500 feet than at the surface this morning up here. Quite the inversion. Still clear.

  8. I’m looking forward to Monday night to see what will happen when the arctic front moves through here. Usually, in past years experience, it doesn’t produce much snow. We tend to clear out clouds pretty fast in my area, resulting in the snow basically hitting places well south(Washington) and west (southern Vancouver island) of us. I’m hoping we get something more than a trace. Last year we had half an inch on November 29th. Will it be a repeat on the 23rd? stay tuned…

    • Same deal here. Recent arctic outflow events have been dry for me, at least by the time the cold air gets here. I’m not that optimistic about the chances for snow this time; it’s shaping up as a fairly marginal event. May see a few flakes but I’d be surprised if the ground gets white for me.

  9. Tyler Mode in Battle Ground says:

    23 degrees…this will finish off the banana tree for sure…

  10. schmit44 says:

    11/21/2015 Oregon (All) Temperature Summary

    High:65 at RED MOUND(1753 ft)
    Low: 51 at RED MOUND(1753 ft)

    High:25 at KB7DZR Joseph(3984 ft)
    Low: -2 at CRANE PRAIRIE (5500 ft )

    Largest Diurnal Change: 43 degrees
    Lorella (58/15 ) (4160 ft )
    CRANE PRAIRIE (41/-2) (5500 ft)

  11. Farmer Ted says:

    When the snow finally does come to our area, we will all be amazed with enjoyment. It’s just a matter of when. In the mean time I’ll try and be patient.

    • I don’t think I’ve ever seen a completely snowless winter in the Pacific NW, but sometimes it’s been pretty darn close (a brief flurry one day, that’s it). It’s definitely an “if” not a “when” if you’re talking about seeing accumulating snow that settles on the ground in a given winter.

    • Farmer Ted says:

      No time frame implied my friend, and I have seen a winter with nary a snowflake!

  12. Tyler Mode in Battle Ground says:


  13. Now 39 after a high of 46.

    A sunny dry day today, but ACARS data indicates there’s an inversion. It’s presently about 7˚F cooler at 3500 feet than it is here at the surface.

  14. WEATHERDAN says:

    What a great Saturday. Wall to wall sunshine and a high of 52. The leaves crunched underfoot as I went out for a walk in the park this afternoon. We dropped down to 31 this morning for our our first frost of the season. Our growing season this year was 241 days. It looks like we might see a little rain and snow mix on Tuesday from a cold Pacific trough. An Arctic air mass would have been nice but not in the picture. FZL this afternoon was 10,500 feet. Should crash on Tuesday. A whole lot of dry but cool weather headed our way over the next few days. Hey way to go Ducks. They crushed USC today. Really starting to feel like the Christmas season today. Peace.

  15. Sapo says:

    Well, 18z GFS operational is pretty much out and 18z NAM too. Looking over the models, it appears the general consensus is that cold air moves over us sometime Tuesday and we see showers on Tuesday, those showers end between 1 PM and 6 PM Tuesday, depending on the model. Surface temps in the majority of Portland don’t get down to freezing until after the showers end..18z NAM seems to be the coldest run, giving us precip a little longer and bringing cold air a bit quicker…potential snow in the higher elevations with that run..best case scenario for the majority of us looks like maybe a snowflake or two mixed in w the showers later Tuesday..Not much happening there but the models have turned a little colder and highs may be in the upper thirties on Wednesday-Friday.
    So not really much of a snow potential for us but some snow in the Cascade and Coast ranges and Thanksgiving should be cold!!

  16. Boring Oregon says:

    Looks like the blob is dying.

  17. Tyler Mode in Battle Ground says:

    28 here in Battle Ground, my coldest temp (sadly) since March 4th.

  18. JsckFrost says:


  19. schmit44 says:

    11/21/2015 Oregon (All) Temperature Summary

    High:65 at Port Orford (US( 89 ft) & MEDFORD PORT #2(1900 ft)
    Low: 50 at RED MOUND(1753 ft)

    High:21 at MT. HOWARD(7910 ft)
    Low: 1 at EW4189 Baker Cit (3333 ft )

    Largest Diurnal Change: 36 degrees
    Lorella (56/20 ) (4160 ft )

    Heaviest Rainfall:
    0.54″ at North Bend Munic(16ft)
    0.52″ at J RIDGE(5180ft)
    0.51″ at EW4395 Milton Fr(3454ft)
    0.43″ at LAGRANDE 1(3079ft)
    0.41″ at EW1765 Mount Hoo(1542ft)

  20. muxpux (Longview) says:

    I went snowboarding up at Big Bear once (’02 I believe) not sure how much snow they “had” (I’m sure I could find out with some research but I’ll get to my point.

    It was the wildest thing. Growing up around here, the whole experience of going to the mountain was completely different. Passing signs sayin [Elev: 9,000′], seeing houses all over the place right up to turning into the parking lot, NO SNOW ANYWHERE THE WHOLE WAY. I mean, we were wondering if they even had snow at all, everything was bare, and as you pull in, there’s little fingers of snow everywhere-on the land they own. Riding itself was different. No tree runs- there was no snow off the groomed areas. Like literal bare ground. It just boggled my mind.

    SKIBOWL claims they did some land clearing to remove terrain pbstacles so they don’t need as much base to open, but you would think they would have a way to do this.

    • Jason Hougak says:

      The difference is Ski Bowl is a low elevation ski area and located in the PNW. Lately they have been getting a lot of rain and not snow. If we got dry cold winter then they would. Big Bear is high enough and dry enough to make snow. It’s north aspect is similar to Ski Bowl it’s just here the snow they make can just as easily wash away. I wish it wasn’t so. I use to buy their night pass, $98 and was the mountains best deal. It turned into an unlimited after spring break if there was enough snow. Season 2010-11 they were open till May with still feet on the ground, great season. The next year I bought a Timberline pass and have since.

    • muxpux (Longview) says:

      I think it was 07, I was working in Portland and would go night ski after work and sleep in my car outside work. Ended up just buying a unlimited spring pass once they became available for like 90$ or something. I was sleeping in my car in parking lots up there that winter. It was a good year too, they actually closed up even with a ton of snow on the ground. I remember complaining, and they said after a certain point, even with decent snow, people’s focus shifts and business really drops off, no matter the conditions.

    • Farmer Ted says:

      Jason, thanks for the t.m.o., you are literally a walking encyclopedia of useless trivia on Mt. Hood winter stats and a good resort salesman to boot.

  21. pappoose in scappoose says:

    “When I see this pattern I worry about snow in Seattle.”


    • Looks like Cliff is on board with a colder scenario. NWS and particularly weather.com are not so cold. The former is presently not forecasting lowland snow at all, but the latter is going for a marginal event (for both SEA and PDX). Time will tell.

    • pappoose in scappoose says:

      “the atmospheric configuration needed is so difficult to achieve, and the uncertainties in getting the ingredients together so uncertain”

      Really don’t know the all-important fine details till the event is imminent. Watch for the GOLU model release!

    • Ack. Other way ’round. NWS is forecasting a marginal snow event presently.

    • Sapo says:

      Ya, looking interesting..although I wouldn’t call rain/snow showers a “snow event”.

    • David B. says:

      What typically happens here with such a scenario is that the higher hills and/or areas where precip is more intense (and thus dragging down the snow line) see some snow accumulations and everyone else maybe sees some flakes mixed in with the rain or perhaps wet snow that melts as it hits the ground. Sometimes enough snow falls in the favored areas to affect travel. It’s a snow event, but marginal.

  22. pappoose in scappoose says:

    Vista House should be rocking this weekend.
    Tune up your body bracing techniques, before making the trip!


  23. Brian says:

    What I don’t get is why Meadows does not get a few more snow guns on the Red/Daisy/Buttercup runs to at least. Did you notice on the KOIN cam over the last storm they parked their snow cats on the Buttercup run to act as snow fences? Why not invest in some netting and bamboo string it up and farm some snow as well?

    • Brian says:

      Jezzz…to at least get those lifts running. Incomplete thought….

    • Mark Nelsen says:

      Could be a water supply issue?

    • Mark Nelsen says:

      I also wonder how they get approval to drive snowcats over just 10″ of snow on the fragile alpine soil? Maybe the weight is really spread out on the tracks…but we were wondering about that here in the studio.

    • Boydo3 N. Albany says:

      Bachelor has been blowing their guns and grooming and I’m sure after the freezing level comes back down they will be making more snow. So they will have a few good runs open soon…just like last year. Skiing on old, hard, man made snow.

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