Outdoors

Ski officials already pointing to early opening for season

Mt. Baker Ski Area opens first in 2015

Mount Baker Ski Area is the first ski area to open in Washington state, Thursday, Nov. 19, 2015.
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Mount Baker Ski Area is the first ski area to open in Washington state, Thursday, Nov. 19, 2015.

Officials at Mt. Baker Ski Area already are anticipating an early opening based on snowfall predictions — and ski officials in British Columbia are hoping the strength of the U.S. dollar could send American skiers and snowboarders north of the border.

Duncan Howatt, general manager at Baker, is anticipating a promising 2016-17 season, based on forecasts for wet, blustery weather in November that typically translates to snow at the ski area.

“When this happens we tend to have a fairly early opening (at least by Thanksgiving), and then a lot of snow by Christmas,” Howat wrote this week on the ski area’s Snow Report website. Last weekend’s storm left a “light dusting at Heather Meadows,” but the ski area needs freezing levels to drop to get the 18 to 30 inches needed to open.

The ski area opened Nov. 19 last year, the only one in Washington state to open that early.

Up north, Whistler Blackcomb has a significant snowfall and “looks extremely promising for this time of year,” spokeswoman Chelsea Moen told the Vancouver Sun this week.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration on Thursday released its winter outlook, which includes a La Nina watch.

That could mean wetter, cooler conditions in northern parts of the country, but forecasters cautioned a La Nina should be weak and short-lived.

Crystal Mountain Ski Resort reported an 8-inch snow depth earlier this week and White Pass said 14 inches sit atop its Great White Express lift, according to this report.

Jim Donaldson: 360-715-2288, @BhamHerald

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