Forecasters announced earlier this year that we would see a La Niña climate pattern in place this fall. So far, she has not disappointed, at least if you're hoping to hit the slopes on Mount Hood.
The wetter, cooler conditions normally ushered into the Pacific Northwest during a La Niña year are producing a much larger snow base earlier in the season than in the past several years, meaning you can probably start skiing as early as the day before Thanksgiving. Timberline has tentatively scheduled to start running the lifts Nov. 25, while Mt. Hood Meadows should get going Nov. 30, conditions permitting at both.
While both of those dates fall during Gov. Kate Brown's "freeze," the order does not apply to ski areas. The state's resorts have taken precautions to prevent the spread of COVID-19 since they were allowed to reopen in spring. Many operators also used the summer to further enhance safety measures to welcome recreationists back this fall.
The latest update comes from Mt. Hood Meadows, which has been reengineering its parking with the assistance of the Department of Transportation. The resort had already announced plans to spread visits throughout the day with an advance-ticketing system, but changes to the lot should help make the arrival experience more efficient.
When Meadows reopens, there will be an enhanced drop-off zone near the front of the main lot for passengers who have lesson or rental reservations. The driver would then need to continue to a remote parking area to be shuttled in. You'll also find more porta-potties at all lots to help ease demand on bathrooms in the lodge.
The Mt. Hood Express is still scheduled to haul people up the mountain and back down again, but riders are required to follow all of the safety guidelines, which includes masks on at all times and separating parties by a seat when loading. The shuttle's website warns that these measures will be strictly enforced, so anyone who does not comply will be denied a ride, or possibly booted at a stop somewhere between Sandy and Timberline.