2016-17 Ski Season Progress Report as of January 8, 2017

October 2016 was exceptionally stormy over the northwestern quarter of North America. However, most of the moisture was subtropical so snowfall was confined to the highest elevations. The first half of November was bone dry over the western US and it was also too warm to make snow at most areas. Failures of Alta and Grand Targhee, bastions of reliability, to open for Thanksgiving, were huge red flags, as was the cancellation of the Beaver Creek World Cup first weekend of December. Thankgiving skiing was limited to a handful of snowmaking runs. There was a widespread storm just after Thanksgiving, with Utah getting the most snow. The standout area for the early season was Whistler, which had a 76-inch base and 5,200 acres open Dec. 1. During the first half of December the storm track shifted into the western US, with many areas making up the November deficit and more. Widespread snowfall during the third week of December brought most resorts above average in season snowfall. The regions still lagging normal holiday operation were Tahoe low elevation, Montana east of the Continental Divide and the far Southwest, all of which improved with significant snow during the holiday week. The big story in early January is the series of atmospheric rivers hammering California. Adjacent regions have been getting abundant snow too.

All snowfall numbers are since Nov. 1 (which really means Nov. 15 for many areas), as nearly all earlier snow melted out during the first half of the month, and at mid-mountain locations where possible. "Mid-estimates" are for areas that only post upper info online, and apply a long term mid-to-upper ratio to those posted figures.

California:

The Sierra had a major storm mid-October with snow levels in the 9,000 foot range which left an ongoing snowpack in the Sierra only on the upper third of Mammoth, not reflected in Mammoth's Main Lodge snow totals. Second half of November snow was 2-4 feet, with the most north and west of Lake Tahoe. Two major storms during the first half of December were mostly rain below 8,000 feet but dumped 4-6 feet of snow at Mt. Rose and Mammoth and 3 feet at Kirkwood, leaving base depths of at least 5 feet. Other areas had lots of rain and were in limited operation going into the holidays with base depths under 3 feet. It snowed 1.5 feet just before Christmas, which improved surfaces but some terrain remained closed at lower elevations. It has snowed 4-7 feet during the first week of January. Today it is raining to nearly 10,000 feet and all Sierra areas are closed, so some of the terrain stats below are educated guesses based upon recent days. The rain/snow line will come back down so 2-7 feet more snow is likely next week. Current base depths are 4-8 feet at Tahoe and 6-12 feet at Mammoth. See Current California Ski Conditions for more details on Southern California and Mammoth.

Area

Season Snow

Pct. of Normal

Pct. of Area Open

Squaw 8,000

189

117%

70%

Alpine Meadows

167

132%

75%

Mt. Rose

202

167%

100%

Northstar (mid-estimate)

131.5

121%

85%

Heavenly

157

115%

85%

Kirkwood

159

96%

100%

Mammoth

157.5

125%

100%

Southern Cal

31

93%

0-92%


Pacific Northwest:

The region had a record wet October but the rain/snow line was above most of the ski areas. The Whistler alpine was the conspicuous exception. Cams showed a good snowpack at the top of the Whistler gondola at the end of October. After a big November Whistler opened 5,200 acres by December 1. Mt. Baker had 6+ feet of snow in late November to be 87% open Dec. 1. During the first half of December storms focused more on Washington and Oregon, dumping an average 6 feet of snow. With cool temperatures and another 4 feet of snow during the second half of December, base depths averaged 6-8 feet during an excellent holiday season. Early January has been cool to preserve the snow well. Snowfall has ranged from 6 inches at Whistler to nearly 4 feet at Mt. Bachelor.

Area

Season Snow

Pct. of Normal

Pct. of Area Open

Whistler

202

112%

100%

Crystal Mt.

167

100%

100%

Stevens Pass

201

102%

100%

Mt. Hood

224

121%

100%

Mt. Bachelor

218

137%

100%

Canadian Rockies and Interior B.C.:

This was the only region with widespread November snowfall, though it was above average only at the higher altitude areas. After 2-3 feet during the first half of December and another 3-5 feet during the second half, holiday base depths were 4-6 feet. Silver Star is 100% open and Sun Peaks is 98% open. Early January has been cold with just a few inches of snow.

Area

Season Snow

Pct. of Normal

Pct. of Area Open

Big White

122

99%

92%

Lake Louise

95

129%

88%

Sunshine

132

127%

86%

Revelstoke

189

120%

100%

Kicking Horse

117

104%

100%

Whitewater

187

116%

100%

Red Mt.

89

79%

100%

Fernie

154

100%

100%

Castle Mt.

157

149%

94%

U.S. Northern Rockies:

Grand Targhee and Jackson Hole delayed opening due to the dry first half of November but opened by Dec. 1 due to a late storm after Thanksgiving. The Tetons made up completely for the slow start with 10 feet of snow in December and had a good holiday season with base depths of 6+ feet. The interior Northwest areas in Idaho and western Montana had 6-7 feet of December snow and have 4+ foot bases. Big Sky was farther behind but improved during Christmas week to 82% open. Most of the region got about a foot of snow in early January.

Area

Season Snow

Pct. of Normal

Pct. of Area Open

Grand Targhee

185

98%

100%

Jackson Hole (mid)

166

108%

100%

Whitefish

155

116%

100%

Bridger

77

67%

100%

Schweitzer

105

92%

100%

Brundage

104

84%

98%

Sun Valley

91.5

114%

100%

Utah:

Utah was far enough south and east to miss most of October's action. There was a bit of snow mid-month but it was long gone by mid-November. Brighton, Park City and Snowbird opened just after Thanksgiving on snowmaking but Alta delayed to Dec. 2. The late November storm dumped 3+ feet in the Cottonwood areas and about half of that elsewhere. It dumped 7 feet of snow in most of the Wasatch in December. Cottonwood Canyon base depths are 5-6 feet and Park City base depths are 3+ feet. Brian Head in the far south lagged until nearly Christmas but got 5 feet of snow in late December. The California storms are tracking into the Wasatch, dumping 3 feet so far in January.

Area

Season Snow

Pct. of Normal

Pct. of Area Open

Alta

188

93%

100%

Snowbird

198

109%

100%

Brighton/Solitude

216

114%

100%

Park City (mid estimate)

122

110%

98%

Snowbasin

154

130%

100%

Brian Head

128

113%

96%

Northern and Central Colorado:

A-Basin opened a run on snowmaking October 21, was less than 10% open for the next 6 weeks but was 87% open by Chrstmas due to heavy December snowfalls with above average density. Loveland did not open until Nov. 9 and no one else opened until Nov. 18. No one was over 5% open at Thanksgiving and base depths were still in the snowmaking dependent 18-inch range a week into December. But 5-7 feet of December snow overcame the early deficit by Christmas. Base depths were 3-4 feet so open terrain was at least average for the holidays at most areas. Early January snow has averaged 1.5 feet (more at Steamboat, less on the Divide) but much more is expected next week.

Area

Season Snow

Pct. of Normal

Pct. of Area Open

Beaver Creek

118

93%

99%

Breckenridge

132

107%

99%

Copper Mt.

117

108%

84%

Keystone

132

150%

97%

Loveland

106

86%

59%

Steamboat

164

115%

100%

Vail

103

74%

99%

Winter Park

152

113%

84%

Southern and Western Colorado:

This region was bone dry the first half of November but got more snow than the northern areas during the second half. Early December storms were on a more northern track but there were 4-7 feet of snow during the rest of December. Holiday base depths were 3+ feet except for 6 feet at Wolf Creek and thus some expert terrain was not yet open. New Mexico and Arizona missed most of the storms through mid-December but received 4 feet during the second half. The first week of January brought 4 feet of snow to Aspen, Crested Butte (thus opening the North Face) and Wolf Creek, and 1.5 feet elsewhere.

Area

Season Snow

Pct. of Normal

Pct. of Area Open

Aspen

140

155%

99%

Gothic Snow Lab

163

125%

N/A

Crested Butte

160

176%

64%

Telluride

124

127%

89%

Purgatory

117

123%

98%

Wolf Creek

204

148%

100%

Taos

92

92%

89%

Northeast:

Killington opened October 25 with a mix of manmade and natural snow. The natural snow melted out in early November but there was enough natural and manmade snow later for Killington to host a World Cup race even though the races in the West were cancelled. The week after Thanksgiving had some rain but the first half of December was been cold with 5-6 feet of snow in northern Vermont and 3 feet elsewhere. There were alternating rain and snow events during the second half of December, with rain at Christmas but a 2-3 foot storm in northern New England setting up an excellent New Year's weekend. Early January has seen both rain and snow but open terrain is above average. Percents open: Okemo 86%, Stratton 78%, Hunter 79%, Sunday River 84%, Sugarloaf 82%, Tremblant 98%, Mont Ste. Anne 93%.

Area

Season Snow

Pct. of Normal

Pct. of Area Open

Jay Peak (mid estimate)

170

140%

92%

Stowe

129

99%

96%

Sugarbush

151

147%

100%

Killington

82

88%

88%

Whiteface

96

128%

69%

Cannon Mt.

75

131%

82%

Le Massif

107

116%

94%

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