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Weather conditions on Mount Hood halt skiing

Resorts remain optimistic for more snow fall


Warm weather on Mount Hood has kept skiers and snowboards from getting into the winter sports spirit by keeping ski resorts from accumulating enough snow to open completely.

One of which is Timberline.

Although the resort is open, most of its lifts were closed Tuesday, Dec. 16, except for the Bruno's beginner lift. (Image is Clickable Link) Photo Credit: CONTRIBUTED PHOTO: TIMBERLINE LODGE - A web cam from one of Timberline's lifts shows a little snow and some rainfall. You can check more of the lodge's web cams on its website.

The same morning, Timberline’s snow phone, which keeps callers updated with exactly what the weather is doing at the lodge, happily reported that as of 7 a.m., it was 27 degrees and foggy, but there was 2 inches of new snow.

According to Jon Tullis, Timberline’s director of public affairs, Timberline has had Bruno’s beginner lift open, as well as those to Palmer snow field, where enthusiasts can ski all summer, but last week warm temperatures had forced them into inactivity again.

Timberline, Mt. Hood Skibowl and Mt. Hood Meadows have been unable to open on schedule this year because of the mountain's lack of snow.

However, he said, snow has not been completely absent. Timberline has seen 82 inches of snow since it began counting for the season Sept. 1.

“But it gets warm and it rains,” Tullis said, leaving the park with a base snow depth of only 12 inches.

“We need quite a bit more snow,” he said, adding that they would like the base depth to reach 20-24 inches, which is about 2 feet more of snowfall, in order to open skiing on the lower mountain.

Mt. Hood Meadows, which is east of Timberline off Highway 35, also has had its beginner slope open this season, but as of now, there is not enough snow to keep it going.

Meadows’ website says the resort will open for skiing as soon as conditions allow. On its conditions page — under the stats that read in the low single digits of new inches of snow across the board for the past 12, 24 and 48 hours — Meadows’ has posted a pep talk of sorts for those losing hope after hearing "no snow" once more.

“We will resume operations as soon as there is enough snow depth to provide a quality skiing and riding experience,” the post says. “We'll do whatever it takes to make that happen for you. We'll make snow, we'll harvest it from other areas of the resort, and we'll shake the clouds until snow falls from the sky.”

But fun in the snow is not completely lost on Mount Hood. Mt. Hood Skibowl has taken matter into its own hands instead of waiting for the weather to cooperate.

“Because of our state of the art snow-making system, we’ve been able to make over 3 feet of snow,” said Hans Wipper, spokesman for Mt. Hood Skibowl.

With the snow made, Skibowl has been able to open its snow tube and adventure park on the weekends. Photo Credit: CONTRIBUTED PHOTO: TIMBERLINE LODGE - The web cam showed a more positive weather outlook on Dec. 16, but foggy conditions kept upper mountain skiing closed at Timberline.

Daytime tubing is open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Friday, Saturday and Sunday, and Skibowl’s popular cosmic tubing, featuring lasers, colored lights and blasting music, is open from 5-11 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays.

“It’s really a lot of fun,” Wipper said. “It’s a great time.”

Beginning Saturday, Dec. 20, Skibowl will be open for tubing and cosmic tubing daily.

For skiers waiting patiently for snow to fall, Wipper’s advice is to “do their snow dances and pray for snow.”

But Wipper remains positive — forecasts have predicted storms in the next couple weeks that will lower the elevation for snowfall.

Tullis said skiers should be checking online and calling Timberline’s snow phone, 503-222-2211.

“It changes every day,” Tullis said. “We’re having to make decisions on a daily and sometimes hourly basis.”

Echoing Wipper’s thoughts, Tullis wants snow sports enthusiasts to “think snow!”

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