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So far, snow good

It's only December, and a warming trend is on the way, but the beginning of the first month of snowfall for Fargo and its surroundings has outdoor enthusiasts gushing.

It's only December, and a warming trend is on the way, but the beginning of the first month of snowfall for Fargo and its surroundings has outdoor enthusiasts gushing.

Cass County snowmobiler Troy Klevgard:

"Best year since '97, in my opinion."

Jim Richards, part owner of Maplelag, a cross-country ski resort north of Detroit Lakes, Minn.:

"It's like a nine (out of 10) - it's just been dynamite."


Kaitlin Kelly, a 3-year-old from Dallas spending Christmas in Fargo:

... Well, Kaitlin's runny nose did most of the gushing Wednesday, but her smiles and laughs atop a 5-foot-high mound of snow showed her approval.

The snowfall this month hasn't broken any records, but it's come at a steady enough pace - without melting - to kick off the winter season with the type of stretch the area hasn't seen in several years.

The National Weather Service has recorded a snow depth of at least4 inches every day in Fargo since Nov. 28. Last year, snow-lovers saw a paltry two days in December with that much cover.

Last week's slow-moving weathersystem pushed the snow depth toward8 inches, covering area ski trails once more and softening the landing zone below Fargo's Dike West sledding hill.

"I even went down on the inner tube the other day," said Charles Shortridge, 74, of Fargo, taking a break from videotaping his 13-year-old grandson, Dylan Shortridge, who was visiting from Scottsdale, Ariz.

Charlie Stoltenow of Fargo brought five of his kids, ages 4 to 13, to the dike for the second day in a row Wednesday.

They used about anything they could find to zoom down the hill: snowboards, plastic sleds, trash can covers, a deflated air mattress.


"We live here, so we might as well make the most of it," Stoltenow said.

The early snowfall has motivated many into doing just that, said area skiers and Klevgard, the southern trail coordinator for the Rural Cass Snowmobile Club.

"Finally, people are excited about snowmobiling again, instead of (thinking) 'Why do I have this expensive machine sitting in my garage?' " Klevgard said.

Some clubs have already snatched up blocks of hotel rooms for the 2006 North Dakota State Snowmobile Ride, slated for Jan. 28 in Cass County.

"Up and down the valley we're the only area that's really got snow right now," Klevgard said. "Usually it's everywhere else."

At Andes Tower Hills, a ski resort 100 miles southeast of Moorhead in Kensington, Minn., people are sneaking away from work and school to enjoy runs on packed powder, said group sales agent Greg Burnham and general manager Tim Salscheider.

"We're looking to have one of the best years we've ever had," Burnham said. "Our snow conditions might be the best we've ever seen."

The promising start for snow enthusiasts doesn't help predict how the rest of the winter will go, said Brad Bramer, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service.


As of Wednesday, the official first day of winter, Fargo had received 8.7 inches of snow this month, according to the National Weather Service. The average snowfall for the entire month is 7.2 inches.

Readers can reach Forum reporter Dave Forster at (701) 241-5538 Tracey Frank contributed to this report.

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