AP NEWS

Warm December means slow ski season start in western Montana

December 27, 2019 GMT

MISSOULA, Mont. (AP) — A relatively warm and dry December has made for a slow start to the season for several Montana ski areas.

Ski hills across western Montana have only opened between 30% and 45% of their terrain to date, the Missoulian reported.

Lookout Pass off Interstate 90 at the Idaho-Montana state line had three of its four lifts operating on Thursday, but the mountain hasn’t seen new snow in days and operators there don’t use snow-making machines.

“It’s not a typical start. It was late to get going,” said Lookout marketing director Matt Sawyer.

The National Weather Service is calling for a few inches of fresh snow to fall at Lookout in the coming week.

“We’re ready,” Sawyer said. “Old Man Winter just has to wake up.”

Snowbowl just outside of Missoula has opened 45% of its terrain. Discovery Ski Area near Philipsburg has 30% of its terrain open and Lost Trail Ski Area outside Hamilton is 35% open.

Andy Morris, whose family owns Snowbowl, said he feels like the mountain is just one big storm away from better snow cover.

“It doesn’t take much, just a little snow and we can start shaping things up,” he said.