Ridge ski season opens Saturday

Finally, enough snow falls for winter sports

PORT ANGELES — After a long wait during a fairly warm and dry winter, there’s finally enough snow at Hurricane Ridge for the local ski club to start operations.

“Yes, we will be open (Saturday),” said Danielle Lawrence with the Hurricane Ridge Winter Sports Education Foundation which operates the ski area at the ridge, on Friday.

A weather system that brought several days of rain to the lowlands left 54 inches of snow at Hurricane Ridge as of Friday morning, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

The sports foundation has said they need at least three feet of snow to begin operations and while previous systems had left several feet, the quality of the snow didn’t allow for winter sports.

Both the bunny and intermediate slopes will start at 10 a.m. today, Lawrence said, and tubing may be available if crews are able to move enough snow around to create a track.

The foundation stopped selling passes online Friday but tickets will be available at the summit, Lawrence said. Staff will have the names of those who’ve already purchased their passes online and it’s not necessary to have a physical copy of the pass.

Passes are $25 for the bunny slope and $44 for the intermediate.

A ticket for the bunny slope can cover one adult and one child under 12 for $25, Lawrence said.

Hurricane Ridge Road is typically open between 9 a.m. and 4 p.m., weather permitting, according to Olympic National Park, which also charges entrance fees to the park.

Vehicles are required to carry snow chains or other traction devices.

A fire last spring destroyed the Hurricane Ridge Ski Lodge and while there are heated portable bathrooms, there are no warming areas other than personal vehicles, Lawrence said, adding that people should remember to bring food, water and other amenities.

If snow levels remain consistent, the foundation will continue winter sports operations through March 31, Lawrence said.

It’s been a long wait for snow to fall, and Lawrence said she couldn’t remember the last time a winter sports season started as late as March, but said there were years when the season didn’t start at all due to lack of snow.

It’s been a particularly dry winter for Western Washington, with many regions seeing well below-average levels of snowfall. The Olympic region has the lowest amount of snow compared to any other regions of the state according to USDA’s SNOTEL report.

According to the March 1 report, the Olympic region was at 46 percent of the 20-year average, up from 36 percent at the end of January. The North Puget Sound region around North Cascades National Park was the second lowest at 61 percent of normal, up from 55 percent at the end of January.

Most of the state’s water reserves are kept in the snowpack, and a dry winter could lead to elevated wildfire risks over the summer. The state Department of Ecology declared drought conditions for 12 counties including Clallam and Jefferson counties in July, and those conditions have not been lifted.

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Reporter Peter Segall can be reached at peter.segall@peninsulanews.us.

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