Over the past 24 seasons, Mt. Hood Meadows opens on average 29 days before Christmas - November 26. Fourteen of those seasons the ski area opened for daily operations before November 26, including the 96/97 season when October storms allowed an October 21 opening, 71 days before Christmas.
Only ten seasons have seen an opening date after November 26. Meadows has received about eight inches of snowfall total this month, and while it is ready to run lifts, is waiting for more snow to start the season. Next week’s forecast is looking promising for snow starting Tuesday and continuing through Thanksgiving day, which could allow for a “preview day or two” on Thanksgiving weekend. In recent seasons, Meadows has gotten a jump start on the season with preview days, according to V.P. of Sales and Marketing Dave Tragethon, who explains, "Since the 2014/15 season we opened with preview days – opening for just a Saturday, or possibly a weekend on a limited basis until we have enough snowpack to sustain daily operations. This coincides with our industry leading snow harvesting capabilities, where we harvest parking lot snow and transport it throughout the base area and to our lower lifts to connect to the deeper snowpack higher up on the mountain."
Next Week's Forecast:
Tuesday Night: A slight chance of snow. Mostly cloudy, with a low around 28.
Wednesday: A chance of snow. Mostly cloudy, with a high near 36.
Wednesday Night: Snow likely. Cloudy, with a low around 28.
Thanksgiving Day: Snow likely. Mostly cloudy, with a high near 35.
Tragethon says Meadows has become extremely proficient at optimizing early season snowfall and opening on a moment's notice, saying, "When we see a forecast with the potential to open, we ready our teams and depending on the timing of the snow, can be ready for a preview day within 48 hours. We've opened for previews with as little as eight inches of natural snowpack in the base area."
Snow depth and operations vary season to season. Some seasons Meadows previewed just its Buttercup lift, other seasons three or more High Speed Quad chairlifts operated on opening day. Meadows has rarely opened the lower mountain (Hood River Meadows) on opening day, as it usually takes longer to build up the snowpack at that elevation.
A look at historical season snowfall records show there is no correlation between the opening date and how much snow falls that season. Tragethon says, “There is always great anticipation and anxiety for the season to begin. Our pass holders and snow enthusiasts want to get out on the mountain and get their turns in. Everyone at Meadows is just as excited and we’re ready to open as soon as the snow allows, which we believe will be soon!”