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Does September Snow Foretell an Early Opening?

Categories: Guest Connection Weather Blog Media Center

It’s always exciting to see the first snowfall of the season - especially when you get so much snow and it’s still September! It makes us ask all kinds of questions;

Will the snow keep coming? Will the snow last? How soon will we open? Will we get lots of snow this year?

Looking at the next 10 days, the temperatures will stay below normal for this time of year. Portland saw a high temp Sunday of 52 degrees - that was 19 degrees below average temps for the date. So lower than normal temperatures could mean the snow we received this weekend could stick around a while, although that is unlikely. There is some more snow forecast for this upcoming weekend, so we’ll need to see what falls and assess at that time.

We normally open for the season around Thanksgiving, with the potential for some preview weekends leading up to Thanksgiving depending on snowstorms.

We aren’t planning any snow harvesting for now as it is very likely we will see warming temps and melting. We usually start our harvesting in late October or November. We will be better prepared to harvest as we are currently constructing two more dump beds to equip snowcats for snow hauling. This apparatus will enhance our capabilities to allow us to gather snow from our main lots as well as from Hood River Meadows. Three sets of loaders and “dump cats” along with the high capacity trailer, will improve our chances of opening up more of the mountain, including the lower mountain, earlier in the season.

Here's a video of our snow harvesting efforts leading up to our preview weekends and eventual opening last season:

The HRM parking lot snow can also be used to help build snow bridges into Heather Canyon, providing the egress needed to open that part of the mountain earlier. Last season Heather opened top to bottom on December 27 thanks in part to snow harvesting.

So while we can’t say exactly when we will open for the season, we can say we are doing everything we can to prepare for an opening as soon as the snow provides.

In the meantime, here are some first snow dates collected from our YouTube channel - you can watch them from the Playlist above.

  • 2013 – September 25
  • 2018 – October 5
  • 2014 – October 15
  • 2012 – October 16
  • 2010 – October 26

History points towards an above average snow year during ENSO neutral seasons