Meadows Blog

Matt Zaffino's Season Outlook

Matt Zaffino Powder Alert

Matt Zaffino's has issued his first powder alert for Ski Oregon. Check it out!

Skier, boarder, and lovers of mountain snow… here we go! Welcome to Ski Season 2012-2013.

But what about the season overall? Every fall I get asked “should I buy a season’s pass this year?” People just cut right to the chase. What I want to say back is “I don’t know, will you use it? Will your wife/husband/SO get mad if you do? Will you get mad if you don’t?” All things I can’t answer and really don’t care about, and besides, I know what they really mean is…


To which I say, this year, YES! I think it will be a good year for the Northwest snowpack and for the West in general.  Maybe not as strong as two years ago, when on April 15 Timberline had 203” of snow, but then again most years aren’t.

What’s happening? First, the El Niño that seemed to be developing in late summer and early fall has stopped developing. I wasn’t too worried about this anyway, because indications were that it would be a weak El Niño, and we’ve seen some amazing snowfall in years with weak El Niño But the fact that it’s not developing and is not expected to developing the months ahead, is generally good news for Northwest skiers. There are some other patterns of climatic variability I look at, but El Nino/La Nina seems to have the best correlation to northern hemisphere winter weather. But here comes the disclaimers, and no it's not about calling your doctor if it snows for more than four hours.

Each El Nino, or no Nino in this case, is unique. And, there are probably other climatic patterns that we're missing. And perhaps the biggest disclaimer is that skill in long range winter forecasts isn't great.
That said, I see no reason to believe this won't be a good year.  I expect our typical amount of variability, meaning we can go from big snowfalls with a 1,000 to 2,000 foot snow level, to pineapple express and ski slope rain. Hey we all know it happens, and there's no reason to believe it won't this year. Warm happens even in a “cold” year. Likewise, even in a “warm” year, and I'm not saying this winter will be a warm one, but even in a warm winter there can easily be a two to three week period of excellent skiing.
Full disclosure... we're planning on taking a trip to Whitefish, MT this year on the ski train. Not that I think that will be THE only place with great snow. But I don't see any reason it'll be a bad year for the northern Rockies. Or for the great Northwest!
Moving forward I plan on issuing powder alerts when the storms begin to line up, in hope of helping you plan your outings for primo conditions. I'll also post when there's anything interesting to report. And you can follow me on twitter @Zaffino, where I tend to post more immediate tidbits regarding weather and skiing.
Happy Trails and Turns,

Matt Zaffino
Chief Meteorologist
KGW Media Group

Learn to Ski or Snowboard with a Friend

Every ski resort has a learn to ski or snowboard package, which includes a beginner lift ticket, equipment rental and lesson. Through December 21, Mt. Hood Meadows will also add in your best friend! The resort if offering an early season opportunity for enthusiasts to couple up and get a great deal on their first time on the mountain.

The individual package sells for $75 and includes a lift day pass for the Buttercup beginner lift, which also includes the Ballroom Carpet – Mt. Hood’s only enclosed over-the-snow conveyor. Also included is ski or snowboard equipment from the resort’s equipment rental center, and a two-hour group lesson taught by a professional instructor. 

The special “Add a Friend for Free” allows two people to take the beginner package together for just $75. No reservations are needed, simply come to the resort and register at the resort’s equipment rental center. Participants must be 13 or older, and a parental consent form is required for those under age 18. Purchases are made at the mountain between November 26th and December 21st, and must be redeemed between the dates of November 26th and December 21st.

Learn to Ski or Snowboard with a Friend @ Mt. Hood Meadows

Awesome Opening Day

Pierce Hodges Video

We have so much to be thankful for this Thanksgiving Day. Meadows opened the season Thursday with good coverage and even some freshies for those choosing to recreate on the holiday. There were smiles a plenty and raves about the coverage, overall condition of the mountain and the new RFID gates.

An extraordinary effort to haul parking lot snow to the lifts allowed for the Thanksgiving day opening. The entire maze line at Mt. Hood Express and the other three lifts that opened were built up from the parking lot snow, thanks to a rented "Dump Cat". Thousands of cubic tons of snow was hauled over two days to enable the opening.

The Shipyard rail park also benefited from the dump cat's efforts, opening with no less than eight features and four separate lines for jibbin'.

Patrol and lift crews worked tirelessly through the day, and were able to open our 2nd high speed quad Shooting Star for some late afternoon fun.

Meadows is open for the season operating from 9 AM - 4 PM daily until night operations kick in (once we get some more snow).

Cheers to a great season!

Opening Thanksgiving Day!

For the fourth consecutive season lifts will be turning on Thanksgiving day at Mt. Hood Meadows. The resort will open for the 2012/13 season Thanksgiving, with four lifts scheduled to operate from 9 AM – 4 PM. The resort currently has a 33 inch base, thanks to almost two feet of snow which has fallen since Saturday. And with more snow forecast this weekend, resort officials are confident the resort will continue daily operations for the season.

Video by Pierce Hodges

Lifts scheduled include the Mt. Hood Express high speed quad, Daisy, Easy Rider and the Buttercup beginner chair. The “Fun Zone” serviced by Mt. Hood’s only enclosed conveyer – the Ballroom Carpet – will also operate. Early season conditions exist, with good to thin coverage on the groomed runs, with exposed grass, rocks – skiers and snowboarders should be aware of unmarked obstacles. More lifts and terrain will be opened as snow coverage and conditions allow. Meadows Shipyard park will feature several rails for some early season jibbing.

Uphill traffic will be allowed only on designated climbing routes - no uphill within the permit area as Meadows crew and equipment on the mountain preparing for opening.

Day lift passes will be $59 for adults, $39 for ages 14 and under (and seniors 65 and older) and $10 for 6 ages and under. on opening day. The price will increase as more lifts and terrain is added.

The ski and snowboard school will be fully operational, offering group and private lessons for adults and kids, including the resort’s state certified Day Care Center. Culinary services will be serving up breakfast and lunch in the Schuss with lunch and après ski in the Alpenstube. The popular “Fresh Tracks Deli” will also be open for local, fresh, organic and gluten free selections, and the Coffee Cart each morning.

The equipment rental center will be open (a good choice for early season conditions) and the resort retail shops, Outer Limits Sports and the High Performance Center will be open for outer wear, hard goods and last minute accessory (gloves and goggles) purchases.

The shops are offering Black Friday deals all weekend long with discounts up to 50%, including 20% off this year’s selection of skis, boards, bindings and outerwear. Free mounting is offered on any ski/binding purchase.

Pass holder services will be open by 8 AM each morning for those needing to have their new RFID season pass issued.