It must be winter because Minnesota skiers and snowboarders are taking to the slopes.

Embracing the recent frigid weather, ski areas in and near the Twin Cities have ramped up their snow-making machines and are hoping to now stay open for the season.

Hyland Hills Ski Area in Bloomington opened last week, Afton Alps near Hastings opened Thursday and Buck Hill in Burnsville and Welch Village will open Friday.

Many area ski hills opened briefly Thanksgiving weekend.

"We had just enough snow to open for that duration," said Pam Hoye, Afton Alps marking manager. "Then the temperatures warmed up again and most of the ski areas closed. … And then it rained. And rain destroys snow."

But this week, the right amount of cold and humidity combined to make perfect for snow making, Hoye said.

The Twin Cities is still waiting for its first major dump of natural snow to cover the landscape. In the meantime, local ski hills will blast their snow-making machines to give skiers a start on the season.

Mary Lynn Smith • 612-673-4788