Whitefish boasts deepest snow in Rockies

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View from Big Mountain on Monday, January 1. This photo was taken on Ridge Run under Chair 11, the Flower Point chairlift.(Evan McCullers/Daily Inter Lake)

Ullr has been generous to skiers and snowboarders in Northwest Montana so far this winter.

As of Tuesday, Whitefish Mountain Resort’s 125-inch settle base was the third-deepest among all ski areas in the nation, and the deepest in the Rockies. More than 18 feet of powder has fallen on the slopes since Nov. 1, the ski resort boasted earlier this week.

The 245 inches that has accumulated so far this season is on pace with some of the resort’s best snow years of the past two decades. On average the resort sees 300 inches of snow annually. The top snowfall season came in 2007-08 when 426 inches fell.

Coinciding with Whitefish’s deep snowpack has been a bump in visitation.

Resort spokeswoman Riley Polumbus told the Daily Inter Lake on Tuesday that total skier visits are up 5 percent over last winter, with those visits about evenly split between season-pass holders and paid lift tickets. Skier traffic from the Chicago area, in particular, is up for the resort, she added.

Meanwhile, Colorado has seen a double-digit dip in skier visits due to an unusually dry winter that has plagued the central Rockies. Last month, the trade group Colorado Ski Country USA reported a 13 percent decrease in skier visits for the first third of the season.

“We are benefiting from the fact that we have one of the best snowpacks in the Rockies,” Polumbus said of Whitefish’s uptick in traffic.

Reservations at the resort remain strong through February, Polumbus said, especially for the weekend of Feb. 17-19, which is Presidents’ Day in the U.S. and Family Day in Canada.

Northwest Montana is poised to keep reaping the rewards of a La Nina weather pattern.

A shot of Arctic air is expected to clash with Pacific moisture beginning Thursday, bringing another round of heavy snow to area mountains.

Up to 2 feet of new snow is possible on Marias Pass along the southern edge of Glacier National Park, the National Weather Service warned Tuesday. Blowing snow and treacherous road conditions are likely with wind gusts topping 30 mph. Big Mountain is set to receive about a foot of new powder by Friday.

Valley locations could see 2-4 inches of snow with localized higher amounts.

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