: Randal Seaton at Mt. Bachelor. Photo credit: Mt. Bachelor

Powder Alert

The snow is piling up ahead of the ski season!
Matt Zaffino, Guest Author
November 18, 2020

Snow Snow Snow

Note: This page will be updated frequently throughout the ski season to alert you of approaching storm systems and powder.

Timberline Lodge & Ski Area webcam.

UPDATED Nov. 18, 2020:

I’m calling this a Powder Preview instead of a Powder Alert, since the lifts aren’t running yet. But they will be next week! Many of Oregon’s ski areas are planning on opening right around Thanksgiving weekend, with Mt. Bachelor holding off until December 7th for season pass holders.

First, be sure to check the resort websites BEFORE you head up to the mountain. Most areas are limiting daily capacity to be in line with social distancing measures, and there are face covering requirements in addition to other COVID-19 precautions.

If you don’t think this ski season will be different, consider that the current snowfall totals at Timberline Ski Area and Mt. Hood Meadows on Mt. Hood and Mt. Bachelor are already over 40 inches, and the resorts aren’t even open yet! Not the case in a normal year.

Here’s even more news—the bases will be even deeper when the ski hills start running the lifts next week! Between the deep early season snowpack and the fact that no one is cutting it up yet, I think this is going to be one of the most epic starts to ski season in the Northwest that anyone can remember.

We’re going to see another 10-to-20 inches of snow in the Cascades, and 6-to-12 inches in NE and Southern Oregon, by the time the snow from this week’s storms wind down late Thursday.

After a couple of dry days Friday and Saturday, there’s more snow coming Sunday through Tuesday! The snow level will be a little high, around 5,000 feet, but that’s still low enough for most of the slopes to get snow. Meaning we’ll continue to add to the base before the resorts open.

This may change, but at this point it actually looks like dry and somewhat clear weather sets in for Thanksgiving.

In the long range, I’m as excited by what I DON’T see. I don’t see massive areas of storm-blocking high pressure. I don’t see a storm weakening, snow sucking split flow pattern, and I don’t’ see a warm and wet pineapple express type of pattern any time soon. I see an active pattern that keeps throwing storms at the Northwest with frequency. The snow level will fluctuate and go up at the front end of the storms, and come back down after. But it’s a good, active, early season pattern and it bodes well for a deepening snowpack.

The long range forecasts I’m seeing for the next three months point to colder and wetter than average, which is consistent with a La Niña year such as this.

Bottom line: there’s a lot to look forward to this ski season!

See ya on the slopes.

Matt Zaffino

KGW Chief Meteorologist


Know before you go: What To Expect At Oregon Ski Areas During COVID-19. Be sure to also check the Conditions Report for info on planned ski area openings and current season pass sales.

Ski and Snowboard Safety

Those skiing in steep and ungroomed terrain should be familiar with Deep Snow Safety and become informed on traveling and recreating in avalanche terrain. Find more tips on skiing and snowboarding safety here. Avalanche forecasts are available through the Northwest Avalanche Center (Mt. Hood), Central Oregon Avalanche Center, and Wallowa Avalanche Center in Eastern Oregon.

Skiers and snowboarders should always follow the Skier’s Responsibility Code, which exists to raise awareness that there are elements of risk in snow sports that common sense and personal awareness can help reduce:

  1. Always stay in control and be able to stop or avoid other people or objects.
  2. People ahead of you have the right of way. It is your responsibility to avoid them.
  3. You must not stop where you obstruct a trail or are not visible from above.
  4. Whenever starting downhill or merging into a trail, look uphill and yield to others.
  5. Always use devices to help prevent runaway equipment.
  6. Observe all posted signs and warnings. Keep off closed trails and out of closed areas.
  7. Prior to using any lift, you must have the knowledge and ability to load, ride and unload safely.


Trip Ideas

Ask Oregon

What are your favorite Oregon winter adventures?

During winter, there are tons of activities you can do, from skiing or snowboarding, to snowshoeing, hiking and soaking in hot springs! You can camp in the national forests or wilderness areas, or there are some campgrounds open too, depending on where you want to go. There are also some fun places to stay, like…