Snowstorm has Stevens Pass ski resort considering weekend opener

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Stevens Pass Resort is considering an early opening this weekend as the first significant snowfall pounded the Cascades on Friday.

A winter storm warning was issued Friday for the northern and central Cascades with accumulations of 12 to 18 inches expected and about 24 inches at Mount Rainier. Snow was falling at a rate of more than 1 inch per hour.

Another storm is expected to arrive Monday, but that forecast calls for rain or snow mixed, with more snow to arrive later in the week.

"We're looking at possibly having a soft opener for those who want to come up, and we'll make a decision by Saturday morning," said Nate Escalona, the Stevens Pass marketing manager.

If that happens Stevens could have some lifts running by Saturday afternoon or Sunday, but that hinges on how much snow falls Friday night.

"It is starting to get pretty stormy and we're looking at possibly seeing 8 to 10 inches of new snow at our base, and maybe double that higher up at the summit," Escalona said.

Stevens had set its tentative opening for Nov. 22, and Escalona said the resort generally opens about Dec. 1.

"We're crossing our fingers and hoping it comes sooner," he said.

To find out about the possible soft opening go to the Stevens Pass Facebook page or the resort's website.

Stevens Pass reported a base depth of 9 inches, with 17 inches at the summit and a total season snowfall of 36 inches.

In the northern Cascades, Mount Baker Ski Area is looking at possibly opening by Nov. 20 or sooner.

"We're hoping for 18 inches or more to fall this weekend, and if that happens we should be more than halfway there with a good snow base," said Gwyn Howat, the Mount Baker Ski Area operations manager.