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Early cold, snow a boon to ski resorts; many set to open this weekend

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The early winter snowstorm has ski and snowboard resorts smiling – and set to open the slopes.

Afton Alps in Hastings says they'll be opening Friday at 3 p.m., due to a combination of this past week's snowfall and their own snowmaking machines. That's a week earlier than 2013.

The Duluth News Tribune reports Lutsen Mountains started up the snowmakers last week, with plans to open by the Nov. 15-16 weekend. That would be the earliest the resort has opened in about 15 years. One Lutsen official called the cold weather and conditions "ideal" for making snow.

According to FOX 21, Spirit Mountain began making snow Sunday, prior to any accumulation from this week's winter storm, and planned to keep cranking out the flakes for the next few days in order to open this weekend.

Mont du Lac near Superior has also started making snow, but likely won't be open until Nov. 22, the Duluth News Tribune says.

Northland's NewsCenter reports Giants Ridge in Biwabik also turned on the snow makers, but is targeting an opening date of Nov. 28.

The Minnesota Ski Areas Association has an updated table of slopes and their status. Almost all are making snow at this point, and a few more are slated to open this weekend: Andes Tower Hills, Mount Kato and Buck Hill.

Hold off on the snowmobiling

More of a snowmobile person?

The Minnesota DNR says, despite the recent snowfall, trails across the state are not open yet, but should be on Dec. 1.

"The vast majority of the state’s 22,000 miles of groomed snowmobile trail system exists on private property with written permission from the landowner," the DNR says. "The permission allows snowmobile use only from Dec. 1 through March 31."

Even when Dec. 1 hits, it isn't a guarantee all trails will be ready. Before use:

  • Ground must be frozen allowing for crossings in wet areas.
  • Trails must have adequate snow cover – about 12 inches – on the ground to allow for trail packing and grooming.
  • Landowner permits that allow trails on private land must be in place.
  • Trails must be cleared of dead fall, signs need to be in place and gates need to be opened.

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