ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — The list of New Mexico ski resorts open for the season is getting longer.
Angel Fire Resort in northern New Mexico and Sandia Peak Ski Area just outside of Albuquerque opened Friday as the latest blast of winter crossed the state.
Many resort managers say they're seeing some of the best conditions in more than a decade, and that includes the conditions at Sandia Peak, where a couple of fresh inches of snow fell overnight.
Workers at the ski basin summed up Friday morning's conditions with one word: "Awesome."
"December traditionally is the lowest precipitation month, but we're off to a great start," said Sandia Peak spokeswoman Debbie Owen. "If we get what we normally get in January and February, it should be a fabulous season."
A weak storm system slid across western and central New Mexico overnight Thursday. Forecasters with the National Weather Service in Albuquerque said as much as 3 inches of snow were expected to fall along the Continental Divide and in parts of northwestern New Mexico by the time the storm moved out of the state Friday afternoon.
Ski resort managers said the timing couldn't be better, given that the winter holiday season is getting underway.
"We're just thrilled to be opening early," Owen said, adding that the first two tramcars up the mountain were packed.
At Angel Fire, three chairlifts and 18 trails opened Friday. The resort said nighttime skiing would likely start the following week.
The lifts are also running at Taos, Red River, Sipapu and Santa Fe in northern New Mexico and at Ski Apache near Ruidoso. Some of the resorts opened during the Thanksgiving holiday thanks to a series of early storms that brought snow as well as the frigid temperatures needed for snowmaking.
According to the National Weather Service, November was colder than normal and precipitation was above normal across the northwest and close to normal across the eastern plains. Toward the end of the month, a strong cold front combined with a slow moving storm brought widespread rain, ice and snow over a four-day period.
The moisture has helped ease New Mexico's persistent drought. While nearly all of the state is still dealing with some form of abnormally dry to extreme drought conditions, the worse category of drought has disappeared.
Aside from good skiing and snowboarding now, the moist weather may have benefits during the spring and summer months.
"The more snowpack we get, the less likely the fire danger will be as bad. It just all goes hand in hand," Owen said.
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