Shred time: Sunny spring conditions hail start of season at Mt. Hood Meadows

THE FIRST TURNS of the season at Mt. Hood Meadows Ski Resort were Saturday, during a limited opening of the resort’s most mellow terrain. The slopes will open again Friday.

Photo by Ben Mitchell.
THE FIRST TURNS of the season at Mt. Hood Meadows Ski Resort were Saturday, during a limited opening of the resort’s most mellow terrain. The slopes will open again Friday.

A persistent temperature inversion made opening day conditions at Mt. Hood Meadows on Saturday more akin to the end of the ski and snowboarding season, not the beginning.

Despite spring-like temperatures and only a foot-and-a-half of base snow, Mt. Hood Meadows had a limited opening on Saturday and Sunday that attracted approximately 1,000 skiers and snowboarders each day, according to Dave Tragethon, the ski resort’s marketing and sales director.

Temperatures are supposed to stay above freezing at Meadows this week and the National Weather Service only calls for a “slight” chance of snow on Friday. And while Meadows won’t be open on Thanksgiving Day as it has in past years, the resort will have another limited opening of four lifts this Friday through Sunday, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tragethon explained that typically, more people visit Meadows on Thanksgiving Weekend as opposed to the holiday itself, which, factored in with the lack of snow, led to Meadows skipping its traditional Thanksgiving opening this year.

After receiving healthy snowfalls earlier this month, flurries have been woefully absent from Meadows the past couple weeks, which has forced its grooming crews to get creative. Tragethon said snow was removed from the main parking lot and used to supplement what had already accumulated at low-elevation runs such as Buttercup and Shipyard. Snow machines were also used to bulk up the snowpack. Mountain crews also traveled to the top of the Cascade Express lift, which accesses the highest-elevation trails in the ski area, to make sure more terrain would be shred-ready for this past weekend.

“Our mountain crew did a stellar job of accessing Cascade,” Tragethon said. “Conditions were pretty gnarly up there before our groomers got up there.”

An Arctic storm front is forecast to descend upon the Cascades at the end of this week, according to Tragethon, which may get Meadows one step closer to a full opening.

“With any luck, we’ll have some snowmakers out of that,” he said.

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Parkdale third graders sing "12 Disaster Days of Christmas"

Welcome to your sing-able Christmas gift list. What follows is an emergency rendition of “12 Days of Christmas” – for outfitting your home or car in case of snow storm, earthquake, flood or other emergency. Read it as a simple list, or sing it to the tune of “12 Days” – you know, as in “ … and a partridge in a pear tree…” Not to make light of it, but the song is a familiar framework for a set of gift ideas that you could consider gathering together, even if the recipient already owns items such as a bunch of coats, tire chains and flashlights. Stores throughout the Gorge are stocked up on all these items. Buying all 12 days might be prohibitive, but here are three ideas for checking any of the dozen off your list (notations follow, 1-12.) The gift items needed to stay warm, dry and safe are also coded to suggest items in your abode (A) in your car (C) or both (B). 12 Gallons of Water (A) 11 Family meals (B) 10 Cans of propane (A) 9 Hygiene bags (B) 8 Packs of batteries (A) 7 Spare coats (B) 6 Bright red flares (C) 5 Cozy blankets (B) 4 Tire chains (C) 3 Flashlights (B) 2 cell phone chargers (B) 1 And a crush-proof first aid kit (B) Price ranges? Here’s a few quotes for days Three, Two, Four and Nine: n A family gift of flashlights (three will run $15-30, Hood River Supply, Tum-A-Lum) n Cell phone chargers (two will run $30-60) n Tire chains (basic set, $30, Les Schwab, returnable if unused for the winter) n Family meals ($100 or so should cover the basics for three or four reasonably well-fed days) n The home kit should be kept in a handy place near an exit, and remember that water needs to be replenished every few months. If you have a solid first aid kit already, switch out the gift idea with “and-a-sto-o-u-t- tub-for it-all …” Otherwise, it’s a case of assembling your home or car kits and making sure all members of the family know what the resources are and how to use them (ie flares and propane). Emergency situations are at worst life-threatening, at best deeply uncomfortable if you and your family are left without power for an extended period, or traveling and find yourself in a situation where you need to wait out a storm, lengthy traffic delay, or other crisis. Notes on the 12 gift ideas: 12 – Gallons of water: that’s one per person in a four-member family to last for three days, the recommended minimum to be prepared for utility outages. 11 – Easy-open packaged goods, energy bars, dried food and nuts are good things to include for nutrition. Think of what your family of four needs for three days to stay fortified and hydrated (see number 12). Can-opener also recommended 10 – If you have a propane camping stove, keep extra fuel handy. 9 – Hygiene bags: put packaged moistened towelettes, toilet paper, and plastic ties in large garbage bags (for personal sanitation) Resource list courtesy of Hood River County Emergency Management, Barbara Ayers, manager/ 541-386-1213. The county also reminds residents to Get a Kit, Make A Plan to connect your family if separated, and Stay Informed. See to opt-in for citizen alerts. Enlarge

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