And we’re off: The Midwest is open!

It’s been a strong start to the 2019/2020 season across the Midwest as the snow guns blazed and the real stuff consistently fell from the sky. 

Wild Mountain, as they always do, lead the way opening their rope tow in late October, but other hills were not far behind. Many Twin Cities metro area hills opened lifts and runs in November and, up north, snowy conditions laid the base for early openings, too. 

An early season day at Welch Village, Minnesota. (Midwest Ski Journal)

This Saturday, Mt. Bohemia will open, which, to me, is the official signal that we are fully underway for a Midwest ski season. 

How we got here

Snow data, especially in the fall, is at least sketchy in the Midwest. Some hills don’t report snowfall if they’re not open and others seem to just pick a number to call their “base” after they are done snowmaking. 

With that in mind, I’ll defer here to the only data I can trust, which is the National Weather Service snow and temperature readings from Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport. Of course, that means that your hill has likely seen more or less than this, but the Twin Cities metro area has been snowier than other outstate areas so far this year, except the Duluth area. 

MonthSnowTemps (days below freezing)
November14.3 inches13
December (as of Dec. 17)6.3 inches15 (out of 16)
Snowfall and average daily temperature data from the National Weather Service-Twin Cities for November and December 2019. (National Weather Service-Twin Cities)

The strong snow bases and early openings are likely due to 14.3 inches of snow that fell in November at MSP and another 6.3 inches so far in December. 

Making things better yet is the frequent snowmaking opportunities. November saw 13 days out of the month that the average temperature was below freezing. In December, our average temperature has been below freezing 16 out of 17 days. 

Snow guns are working overtime to prepare for these crucial weekends around the holiday. Many local hills literally bank on these weekends, so get out there and support them. 

The conditions are great and sometimes the “staycation” route for skiing is better than paying $200 a day and standing in hour-long lift lines at some of the more popular western resorts. 

I’m sure you already have, but get out there this fall. Let’s share a few turns together.

-Midwest Ski Journal

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