Bitter cold over the next week will bring with it a boost to winter activities.
Huff Hills ski area south of Mandan started making snow this week, running for more than 48 hours straight in order to open four runs today.
“We’ve made an enormous amount of snow plus we’ve gotten some natural snow,” said manager Andy Beck.
There was a foot and 16 inches made Friday morning with plans to keep blowing more in hopes of having all 16 ski runs open by the new year. Two of the tree lifts will be running from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday.
Beck said, when making snow, they like temperatures below 25 degrees, which they’ll have plenty of over the next week.
“We’re going to be in the grips of this cold pattern for the foreseeable future,” said Bismarck National Weather Service meteorologist Patrick Ayd.
Christmas morning is expected to bring temperatures to the negative 25 degree mark with the windchill in Bismarck. Temperatures and windchills will be even colder to the north and east.
Ayd said there might be some moderation by Wednesday, with temperatures climbing out of the negatives to top out at around 7 or 9 degrees Wednesday. After a day or two though, the arctic weather could build back across the area through the following weekend.
Ayd said not to expect much snow or wind, 10 to 15 mph at the most, but with 15 to 20 degrees below zero temperatures, it does not take much for windchills to approach 40 below.
Ice has started forming and people have already been fishing on some of the smaller lakes and back bays in the state, according to Craig Bihrle of North Dakota Game and Fish.
And with a week of cold temperatures more ice is expected to form — good news for those wishing to participate in the state’s free ice fishing weekend. Resident anglers may fish Dec. 30-31 without a license. Those interested in darkhouse spearfishing that weekend must register with Game and Fish prior to participating.
“There are a lot of places out there where you can find a place to go but there are places to stay away from, too,” Bihrle said.
Anglers are reminded of ice safety as conditions may vary on each body of water. It takes 4 inches of ice to walk on, 6 inches for a four-wheeler or snowmobile, 8 to 12 inches for a car and 12 to 15 inches for a truck.
“At the same time, there will be some pretty dangerous windchills out there,” Ayd warned.
With a negative 40 degree windchill, it only takes 10 minutes for frostbite to occur.
Those traveling are advised to have a winter safety kit and to dress warmly in case of vehicle trouble. If drivers do break down, Ayd reminds people to stay in their vehicles until help arrives.
Unfortunately, Bismarck-Mandan outdoor ice skating rinks won't be ready in time for the Christmas weekend, but skaters can enjoy open ice at the indoor rinks.
Capital Ice Complex will have open skating from 3 to 5 p.m. Saturday. Mandan's Starion Sports Complex will have open skating from 11:30 to 2:30 p.m. Wednesday through Friday and 3:30 to 5:30 p.m. Dec. 31.
Bismarck Parks and Recreation Operations Director Dave Mayer said, if the weather holds up, Bismarck park workers have been flooding the rinks and could have enough ice built up by the new year in a few locations.
As far as sledding and cross-country skiing, Mayer said there has not been enough snow yet to open the hill or the trails.