By Shaun Goodwin
From The Idaho Statesman
Boise–Snow is blanketing the Boise Foothills and mountains beyond, but it’s not truly winter in Idaho until ski season begins.
Going by that logic, winter officially begins in the Gem State on Saturday. Lookout Pass Ski and Recreation Area will be Idaho’s first ski resort to open, but it won’t attract anyone from the Treasure Valley.
The resort, located near Mullin in North Idaho, will be one of just 17 ski resorts in the Western U.S. to be open this weekend. According to the resort’s snow report, snow depth is at just 6 inches at the mountain’s base and 13 inches at the summit, though.
“You should bring equipment you feel matches early season conditions. If all you have is new gear, you may want to wait for more snow,” Matt Sawyer, marketing and sales director at Lookout Pass, said in a Ski Idaho news release.
Lookout Pass will be closed Mondays through Thursdays following the limited-time opening, but four more resorts are set to open the slopes next weekend:
—Grand Targhee Resort – Opened Nov. 18 and slopeside lodging opened Nov. 17.
—Pomerelle Mountain Resort – Began weekend-only operations on Nov. 18 and daily operations on Dec. 16. Night skiing commences on Dec. 27.
—Bogus Basin Mountain Recreation Area – The hike park opened on Nov. 19 and the lifts are to begin turning on Nov. 24, which is Thanksgiving day.
—Schweitzer – Skiers and snowboarders got early access Nov. 19-20, and daily operations start Nov. 25.
Unfortunately, for those looking for fresh snow, it will be hard to come by for opening week, National Weather Service meteorologist Stefanie Henry told the Idaho Statesman.
“We’re not expecting a lot of precipitation in Central Idaho, but we can see isolated snow showers,” Henry said. “The panhandle, we’ll likely see patches of fog and maybe an isolated shower or two, but there’s not a whole lot of precipitation expected. Temperatures will be well below normal, so pretty cold.”
The same can be said for south-central and Eastern Idaho, where Pomerelle Mountain Resort and Grand Targhee Resort are located, respectively.
Henry said the two locations are on the western edge of a low-pressure system that could provide snow showers this month, but confidence in that forecast is relatively low.
Pomerelle Mountain has 18 inches of snow at the base, while Grand Targhee reports a snow depth of 59 inches.
The Boise and Bogus Basin region is forecast to experience near-normal chances of precipitation and below-normal temperatures for its opening weekend, according to the Climate Prediction Center.
Fortunately, the dry spell hanging over Idaho won’t last for long.
“There have been some more progressive systems coming in from the Pacific,” Henry said. “So there’s potential for more precipitation (after Thanksgiving), so we’re not expecting a prolonged dry period.”
Another four Idaho ski areas are opening Thanksgiving weekend, and six more have announced projected opening dates in December. Check below to see when your favorite ski area is aiming to open:
—Sun Valley Resort – Will be open on Thanksgiving, Nov. 24, and the lifts on Dollar Mountain will begin turning on Dec. 9.
—Brundage Mountain Resort – Opens Nov. 25 and is taking reservations for its backcountry SnowCat Adventures.
—Kelly Canyon Resort – Plans to open Nov. 25 for its first-ever Thanksgiving weekend opening.
—Silver Mountain Resort – Opens Nov. 25.
—Tamarack Resort – Plans to open Dec. 9.
—Soldier Mountain – Will open Dec. 15, but its magic carpet area — an area for young children to learn to ski — will open Nov. 25. Soldier Mountain is also taking reservations for its cat and backcountry skiing programs.
—Pebble Creek Ski Area – Plans to open Dec. 16.
—Little Ski Hill – Plans to open Dec. 17, but half of the cross-country trail system at the Bear Basin Nordic Center is already groomed and open.
—Rotarun Ski Area – Opening Dec. 17.
—Cottonwood Butte – Anticipates opening on Dec. 26.
Bald Mountain Ski Area, Lost Trail Ski Area, Magic Mountain Ski Resort and Snowhaven Ski Area and Tubing Hill have yet to announce opening dates.
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