Snow piles up in Cascades as ski season approaches

MOUNT HOOD, Ore. - It's beginning to look a lot like ski season.

Snow was falling heavy and fast Monday morning at Timberline Lodge, where over a foot of the white stuff has piled up in the last 24 hours as a strong and cold storm system moves through the area.

Snow plows were at work keeping roads clear near Government Camp and the nearby road to Timberline, where 8 inches of snow has come down in the last 24 hours, according to the Timberline website.

However, the temperature at the historic lodge was 32 degrees at 11 am with rain falling on a 16-inch base, according to conditions posted on the site. Officials said they hope to open upper lifts by November 16 but that will depend on what happens with the weather.

On Monday, just one run, the beginner slope called "Bruno's," was open, but a small group of intrepid snowboarders were ready to take advantage.

"It was a little icy but not too bad," snowboarder London Wilson said of the drive up to Timberline. Elsewhere on the grounds near the lodge, Kristina Swan and family played in the new fallen snow.

Mt. Hood Meadows reported similar conditions and a "mid-snow depth" of 16 inches but no facilities were operational as of yet.

Further south, Mt. Bachelor's website indicates 10 inches of snow are on the ground and a note on the site said they hoped to have things up and running by Nov. 21 - "conditions permitting."

Another popular spot - Ski Bowl - is at a lower elevation but showed snow on the ground via webcams but their website said the facility was closed for now.

Ski resort operators in the Cascades typically wait until they have a solid base of at least a few feet of snow before opening up facilities to winter sports lovers.

"We like to have a good three feet of settled snow that we can build into a base. Closer to four is even better," Dave Tragethon, Executive Director at Mt Hood Meadows said in an email to KATU News in October.

"It really does depend on how much moisture there is in the snow, and what the conditions were when it fell, to give us good coverage," he added.

Operators usually target the Thanksgiving weekend for a full opening but have been known to open early - or delay opening - depending on the snowpack and weather conditions.

The snow level is expected to remain at about 5,000 feet this week, according to Meteorologist Joe Raineri, who was at Timberline Lodge Monday morning.

Mountain passes are expected to remain clear of snow on the roadway as the wet weather subsides through the week, but more precipitation could be on the way, according to the latest KATU Storm Tracker forecast.

Watch the latest KATU Storm Tracker weather forecast: