Montana ski hills hoping for a blast of snow from winter storm

Some unseasonably warm weather has been keeping ski slopes in Western Montana from opening their entire terrain.

Conditions seem a little bit better than last year at this time but skiers are still praying for snow.

And it looks like they’re getting some.

Much of Western Montana is under a winter weather advisory until Friday night.

“We’re opening and it’s snowing right now and there’s more snow and cold temperatures in the forecast,” said Riley Polumbus, a public relations manager at Whitefish Mountain Resort.”

Whitefish Mountain is on schedule to open this Saturday. She says conditions are looking pretty good at the summit.

“We have a 44 inch base at the summit as of this afternoon,” she said.

The back side is alright, but conditions are inconsistent. As you come to the front of the mountain.

“The village area has snow, but not a lot of snow there we have about a 5 inch base,” she said.

Every year it’s different. Last year, conditions were worse at this time.

“Two years ago, however, it was a much different story,” Polumbus said. “We had about a 60 inch base I believe.”

But this year, Whitefish Mountain gets to lean on Ski Magazine naming it the number 11 best overall resort in the country. And the website Trip Advisor named it number 6 on its list of best value ski destinations.

Opening almost a full month earlier than Whitefish Mountain, Great Divide Ski Area in Helena.

Kevin Taylor is the owner and manager.

“We opened up the good luck chairlift on November 11th, that was a record for getting a chairlift open,” said owner and manager Kevin Taylor.

The hill’s previous record was November 12th, set in 1994. Early season snow helped out Great Divide earlier, but unseasonably warm weather has slowed down the opening any more than about half the terrain.

Recently it was even raining at the bottom of the hill, although Taylor says the effect of that has actually been positive for the snow at the base.

“It’s good, it’s very hard base,” Taylor said. “I mean you can’t ski through it, it’s good protection from the ground underneath.”

Now, he’s looking optimistically at the forecast too.

“There’s some snow coming, it’s snowing right now and if we can get some nice light surface snow on top of that very hard base, pretty neat,” he said.

Lookout Pass on the Idaho border is now open.

Lost Trail, South of Darby opened.

Discovery is open near Philipsburg.

Snowbowl in Missoula opens Friday.

Another hill, just outside Choteau has not opened yet. But Teton Pass ski area is on track to this year on December 15th. Last year it didn’t open at all, due to what management called insurance complications.

“It just wasn’t feasible so we just decided to postpone and go at it 100 percent when we could,” said Nathan Haines, the service and lodge manager.

Now Teton Pass just needs snow.

“We have about 10 inches on the ground or so,” Haines said.

So they need a little more.

But ya know.

“Right here right now well it’s snowing right now,” he said.

Good omens for ski lovers.

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