Three Rivers Park District kicked off full snowmaking operations last week at its Hyland Ski and Snowboard Area in Bloomington and at the Elm Creek Winter Recreation Area in Maple Grove.

Hyland has four new snow guns mounted on towers that will maximize snowmaking so that its slopes and rope tows can open earlier. The facility already has about three dozen portable snowmakers. Hyland also installed 2,000 feet of new underground water pipe to open as much terrain to snowmaking as possible.

About half of Hyland's runs opened Thursday, with 12 to 36 inches of man-made snow on the slopes, said Fred Seymour, Alpine services manager.

That will be enough for weekend skiing and snowboarding, he said, even if it's too warm for the machines to make more snow.

Elm Creek is making snow for downhill skiing and snowboarding, and also for 2.5 kilometers of cross-country skiing and snow tubing. It expects to open in mid-December, weather permitting.