DEADWOOD, S.D. – So far this winter, 132 inches of snow have fallen in the higher elevations of the Black Hills. That's more than 3 feet above the average September-January snowfall, and it's been a boon for skiers, snowmobilers and other Black Hills winter sports enthusiasts.
"The trails are in great shape. This is probably the best snow we've had in 10 years," said Andy VanDeest of the Trailshead Lodge west of Lead.
Snow depths range from 18 to 24 inches on the Black Hills' 350 miles of groomed snowmobile trails, VanDeest said. Off-trail, snow is 2 to 4 feet deep. Trailshead Lodge, near O'Neil Pass, has been hosting snowmobilers from Minnesota, Iowa, Nebraska and other Midwestern states this winter.
According to the National Weather Service, this winter's 132 inches of snowfall in the Lead-Deadwood area makes 2008-09 the snowiest winter since 1996-97.
The season got off to a good start in November, when a major blizzard dropped nearly four feet of snow in some areas of the Black Hills. However, it's been the steady stream of smaller, 5- to 7-inch snowfalls that have kept the Hills' snowmobile trails in top condition this winter, said Shannon Percy, Black Hills Trials Manager for the South Dakota Department of Game Fish & Parks.
"We've had lots of blowing and drifting, which keep the trails covered with fresh snow, and new accumulations," Percy said. The Black Hills snowmobile trail system has more than a dozen trails stretching from Big Hill south of Spearfish to GrandVistaPass just west of HillCity.
Black Hills ski resorts report good snow as well. TerryPeak west of Deadwood has a base of 20 to 26 inches, and all of its ski runs are open, according to its Web site. TerryPeak has seen 114 inches of snowfall since Nov. 1. The nearby Mystic Miner Ski Resort at DeerMountain reports up to 39 inches of snow on its trails and 35 trails open.
The winter snowpack also bodes well for next summer's fishing, boating and water sports. The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation reports that Deerfield Reservoir is 93 percent full, Pactola Reservoir is 92 percent full and Orman Dam is 75 percent full. By spring, officials predict, all three should be at 100 percent.
Snow lovers can see the winter Black Hills for themselves online.
Live Webcams are located at:
Deadwood Main Street -- www.blackhillsdiscovered.com/siterun_data/web_cameras/deadwood.php
Terry Peak Ski Area -- www.terrypeak.com/webCam.asp
Spearfish Canyon -- www.spfcanyon.com/webcam.html
Trailshead Lodge -- www.trailsheadlodge.com/
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