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Dry winter forecast has ski areas hoping for a change in the weather

Schweitzer Mountain Resort

Weather forecasters say the current dry spell in the Northwest may turn into a dry winter. But the region’s ski areas are banking on enough snowfall for winter sports.

John Livingston is the chief meteorologist at the National Weather Service in Spokane. He says the key to the Northwest’s winter lies in ocean surface temperatures between South America and Indonesia. That’s where patterns are developing that seem to point to a warmer “El Nino” year.

“It probably means maybe less snow that we would normally expect in the mountains and then definitely less snow in the valleys with the warmer temperatures," Livingston said.

For resort towns like Sandpoint, Idaho, weather can make or break the season. But Cory Murdock isn’t worried yet. He’s a former competitive skier who works at a ski shop in Sandpoint.

“Nothing against the weather forecasters, I’ve also seen things change. At this point, you can say anything, but I’m not going to believe anything until I see it," Murdock said.

Most ski areas we talked to in the Northwest say they’re preparing to open on time this year – possibly with the help of a snow machine.

Copyright 2012 Northwest News Network

Inland Northwest Correspondent Jessica Robinson reports from the Northwest News Network's bureau in Coeur d'Alene, Idaho. From the politics of wolves to mining regulation to small town gay rights movements, Jessica covers the economic, demographic and environmental trends that are shaping places east of the Cascades.