Minn. ski hills open despite dry autumn monthsby Stephanie Hemphill, Minnesota Public Radio
St. Paul, Minn. — As Minnesota says goodbye to an extremely dry fall, ski hills are busy making snow.
Despite record and near-record dry autumn months, ski hills are open across the state. Lutsen Mountains has several runs open; Spirit Mountain in Duluth has only one this weekend; Buena Vista near Bemidji is postponing opening until next weekend.
At Afton Alps, Amy Reents said the hills have between 8 and 24 inches.
"From mother nature, inch and a half," she said. "The snow we have now is machine-made snow; it's in good condition this weekend."
Snowmaking is controversial at Lutsen Mountains because the water comes from a trout stream. But co-owner Charles Skinner says the river is in good shape.
"We did get a fair amount of rain, at night, over Thanksgiving, there was snow earlier that melted, so the river is up to much higher levels now," he said.
Skinner says he expects a normal or even better season.
At Wild Mountain near Taylor's Falls, Amy Frischmon says there's only about 3.5 inches of natural snow on the ground.
"What I say, the snow that comes from God is good advertising and it gets people in the mood, but it typically does not allow us ever to open up on natural snow," she said.
Still, she expects a good year overall.
"Everybody is saying that the La Nina is still here so there should be a lot of snow," Fischmon said.
There is some snow in the forecast for this weekend.