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Mt. Baker thankful for some holiday snow, but when will the ski season begin?

Crew members clean snow off Chair 1 at Mt. Baker Ski Area while Pro Patrollers ride the chair to set up boundary lines and signage on the mountain in November 2017 in preparation for opening day. In spite of a good Thanksgiving snowfall this year, Mt. Baker Ski Area did not open by the holiday weekend for the first time since 2014.
Crew members clean snow off Chair 1 at Mt. Baker Ski Area while Pro Patrollers ride the chair to set up boundary lines and signage on the mountain in November 2017 in preparation for opening day. In spite of a good Thanksgiving snowfall this year, Mt. Baker Ski Area did not open by the holiday weekend for the first time since 2014. Courtesy to The Bellingham Herald

Something is definitely missing from this holiday weekend — and we’re not talking about the seeming absence of Black Friday madness or a shortage of turkey leftovers.

For the first time since 2014, Whatcom County residents will not get to start shedding those post-Thanksgiving pounds by heading to Mt. Baker Ski Area.

According to the Mt. Baker snow report, which was updated Friday, the ski area has received about 16 inches of snow the past few days — but needs “a bit more snow to be able to open,” the report said.

A Facebook post by the Ski Area Friday showed a truck sporting about a foot of fresh powder and said, “Thanksgiving storm system rolled in and gave us a big helping of base building snow.”

Ski area officials also warned eager early birds that the ski patrol is not on duty, and people should not access areas inside the ski area boundary as heavy machinery and avalanche control operations may be underway.

Last year the ski resort opened Nov. 16, according to Snowpack.com, and a year earlier it opened for business the day after Thanksgiving (Nov. 25). In 2014, the ski area did not open until Dec. 20.

The National Weather Service in Seattle issued a winter storm warning for the Cascade mountains and valleys of Whatcom and Skagit counties that extended until 4 a.m. Saturday.

Though most of the heavy snow was expected to have fallen Thursday, snow showers were predicted to continue until early morning Saturday, according to the National Weather Service. All told, the system was projected to bring accumulations of 8 to 15 inches for areas above 3,000 feet, with more than 2 feet predicted near mountain summits.

Mountain pass travel in Snohomish and King counties could be difficult this weekend, according to the warning. For the latest updates on the passes, check WSDOT website.

Unfortunately, any weekend snow may change to rain by Sunday evening, according to the NWS forecast, which is projecting temperatures in the mountains to move above freezing on Sunday and stay there through Tuesday, with highs near the ski area of 38 Sunday and 39 Monday and Tuesday, though snow may again return Tuesday night.

For Bellingham, the NWS also predicts a slight warming into the lower 50s Sunday through Tuesday, with showers returning Saturday evening and turning to rain Sunday, Monday and early Tuesday.

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