Skiers and riders might be dreaming about shredding big “pow” after the first big snowstorm of the fall hit the mountains of Southern Idaho with a surprising amount of white stuff.

Pomerelle Mountain Resort received more than a foot of new snow in the highest elevations in that early storm, officially 13 inches at the top and 8 inches at the base. With a base elevation of 7,760 feet, Pomerelle is a perennial “snow-catching” mountain, often receiving some of the most powder of any resort in Idaho during a storm event.

Pomerelle’s early snow always gets skiers and riders stoked about the upcoming winter season. Pomerelle’s Facebook pics about that major first dose of snow drew 88 comments and 309 shares.

Magic Mountain Resort  and Soldier Mountain also got hit with fresh snow, starting the process of building a snow base for the 2018-2019 winter season.

At this point, the $64 million question is, what kind of ski season is it going to be?

The 2018 Farmer’s Almanac is predicting a snowy winter with mild temperatures in Southern Idaho and the Intermountain West. “Normal” amounts of precipitation are expected, which can mean significant amounts of moisture in Idaho’s mountains. In other words, “normal” in Idaho is a lot of snow!

The key question will be how “mild” temperatures play out during the storm events. Specifically, at what elevation will actual freezing occur?

According to the experts with the National Weather Service, a mild or weak El Nino is falling into place for this winter. There are conflicting reports about what the weak El Nino will mean for snowfall and the ski season. In the past, El Nino winters have brought us lots of snow, and in some years, not so much.

“It’s a good sign we are seeing the storms coming in early,” said Ron Abramovich, water supply specialist for the Natural Resources Conservation Service Snow Survey office in Boise. “In the past, we have seen El Nino patterns set up and storms come in earlier in the fall/early winter. So the best advice I can say is to have those skis and boards ready to roll and the get legs in shape.”

If the temperatures this winter prove to be more on the mild side, that could mean higher snow levels and rain in the lower elevations, Abramovich said. “We’ll see what this winter brings.”

The latest 90-day forecast from the National Weather Service calls for a 40 percent chance of milder temperatures in November and December and below-normal precipitation. But weather forecasters don’t put a lot of stock in the 90-day forecasts.

Season passes and early-bird ticket sales

Watch the Southern Idaho resort web pages for information about preseason season pass discounts and special deals. Pomerelle just had a “Winter Welcome Weekend” on Oct. 13-14, with preseason season pass sale, rental gear sale and job fair. Magic Mountain is hosting the Haunted Swamp in Twin Falls, so you can check with them about preseason deals if you visit, or see their web page with fall pricing.

At Soldier Mountain, you can check on preseason pricing and ponder whether you’d like to book a Snowcat adventure and potential overnight stay at their mountain yurt. Snowcat trips start at $235 for a 6-hour tour. Get a group of friends together a book a trip!

Also, Soldier is on the hunt for a wide range of employees to work this winter season. They’re hosting a job fair on Saturday, Nov. 17. See their Facebook event page for more details.

One final note: College of Southern Idaho officials say they are not hosting a ski swap this year. Sorry to hear that!

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