2017-18 Ski Season Progress Report as of January 15, 2018

October 2017 snowfall was strongest in the higher elevations of western Canada and the northern Rockies with some lesser amounts in Colorado. First half of November snowfall was high in the Pacific Northwest and inland northern regions, resulting in some early openings and deep snowpacks. There was also an atmospheric river storm mid-November in California. Thanksgiving week brought widespread rain to 9,000 feet to the northern regions, degrading the snowpack at lower elevations. Thanksgiving snowpacks were still over 4 feet at Mt. Baker, Whistler and Grand Targhee. The farther south you go, the less November snow there was, and some opening dates were pushed back. The western US was under severe sustained high pressure for the first half of December. The week before Christmas brought substantial snow to the Northwest and spread inland to the Rockies as well. Northern Utah and Colorado got a couple of feet but still endured limited holday skiing similar to 2011-12 and are unlikely to reach full operation before February. The Southwest still has almost no natural snow on the ground and should be avoided indefinitely barring major dumps. Skiing in other regions acquired an adequate snowpack at higher elevations in November. Lower elevations had a lot of November rain, resulting in variable coverage and surfaces. But the week before Christmas snow brought most Northwest, western Canadian and northern Rockies area into midwinter form. These regions also got a foot+ of snow Christmas week.

The first half of January saw 1-3 feet of snow over most of the West, but continuing the season trend of the most snow in northern regions. Therefore terrain openings in the drier regions have been gradual. Most forecasters believe there will be substantial storms during the second half of January.

California: An early November storm only snowed more than a few inches north of Lake Tahoe and over 8,000 feet. The second week's storm was much bigger though also snow mostly over 8,000 feet. Mt. Rose got 4 feet and Mammoth got 2+ feet at its Main Lodge snow plot but 5+ feet up top. Thanksgiving week had a bit of rain followed by warm weather resulting in spring conditions. A foot of snow in late November restored surfaces to the areas with an adequate base over 8,000 feet. With less than a foot of December snow, Mt. Rose and Mammoth continued to have the best skiing, but ungroomed snow was bumpy with more obstacles over the holidays. Other Tahoe areas had marginal base depths around 2 feet on limited terrain, were beaten up by holiday crowds and should be avoided until there is much more snow. Two early January storms dropped 2-3 feet at Mammoth, bringing its upper snowpack into a normal 4-7 foot range for January. Kirkwood was the only Tahoe area to get more than a foot during the first half of January, and the rain below 8,500 feet worsened conditions elsewhere at Tahoe. While more widepread snow is expected later this month, Tahoe conditions are poor and Sierra skiers should thus favor Mammoth in the short to medium term. 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

73

40%

22%

Alpine Meadows

48

34%

22%

Mt. Rose

87

64%

80%

Heavenly

50

32%

31%

Kirkwood

62

33%

74%

Mammoth

62

44%

80%

Southern Cal

7

18%

0-48%

Arizona Snowbowl

18

19%

38%

Pacific Northwest: The region had some October storms but the rain/snow line was above all but the alpine sectors of Whistler and Mt. Bachelor. First half of November snowfall was widespread and many areas opened by November 18. The Thanksgiving week rain reduced the Mt. Baker and Whistler base depths from 6 feet to 4 feet. Base depths elsewhere were reduced to the 2 foot range. Late November snow improved surfaces and restored about a foot of base lost by the rain. Much of the Whistler alpine opened Dec. 9 after extensive avalanche control, resulting in twice as much open terrain as anywhere else in North America. The Northwest had a scattered foot of snow during the first half of December but in the second half of December it dumped 3 feet at Mt. Hood, 4 feet at Whistler and 5+ feet in Washington State areas. New Year's base depths were 4-5 feet at most areas, 6 feet at Whistler and 8 feet at Mt. Baker. First half of January snowfall was about 2 feet in Washington and 1 foot elsewhere. Significant cold storms are predicted over the next week, which should open up the rest of Oregon's terrain and continue the excellent skiing in Washington and at Whistler.

Area

Season Snow

Pct. of Normal

Pct. of Area Open

Whistler

211

106%

100%

Crystal Mt.

201

108%

100%

Stevens Pass

187

86%

100%

Mt. Hood

128

62%

100%

Mt. Bachelor

107

61%

51%

Canadian Rockies and Interior B.C.: Snowfall was abundant in this region from late October through mid-November. Thanksgiving week rain affected the Okanogan and Kootenay areas, though base depths declined only at Fernie, remaining near 3 feet at most other areas. With 2+ feet of snow in late November/early December, base depths reached the 3-4 foot range. Second half of December snowfall was a bit under 2 feet around Banff but 4+ feet in the Okanagan and Kootenay regions. Base depths are 4-5 feet and this was the best overall ski region entering the new year. Silver Star and Sun Peaks were 2/3 open by mid-December and in full operation for the holidays. First half of January snowfall was about a foot in Banff and 1.5-2.5 feet in the Okanagan and Kootenay regions.

Area

Season Snow

Pct. of Normal

Pct. of Area Open

Big White

140

103%

98%

Lake Louise

120

148%

96%

Sunshine

155

135%

91%

Revelstoke

187

107%

90%

Kicking Horse

180

146%

97%

Whitewater

171

95%

100%

Red Mt.

104

83%

87%

Fernie

189

110%

70%*

Castle Mt.

198

162%

99%

*Closed terrain at Fernie is due to a broken lift.

U. S. Northern Rockies: Grand Targhee had 115 inches snowfall by mid-November, and thus opened 82% on Nov. 17 and 100% by Thanksgiving. Interior Northwest areas got the rain and December 1 base depths were in the 2+ foot range. Most areas got a little under a foot of snow in early December before the high pressure set in. Second half of December snowfall of 5 feet brought excellent holiday skiing to Schweitzer, Whitefish and the interior Northwest. Southern Montana and the Tetons got 3-4 feet, bringing Big Sky to 90% open. Overall this region was close to full operation for the holidays on 3-5 foot bases, except for Sun Valley which only had 3 inches of December snow. Most areas got 2+ feet of snow during the first half of January.

Area

Season Snow

Pct. of Normal

Pct. of Area Open

Grand Targhee

213

101%

100%

Jackson Hole

172

99%

83%

Whitefish

150

101%

100%

Bridger

151

119%

100%

Schweitzer

187

147%

100%

Brundage

106

77%

100%

Sun Valley

64

71%

84%

Utah: Utah had minimal October snow and was on the edge of November storms. Some opening dates were delayed and any skiing is on limited snowmaking. An early December storm dropped up to 18 inches in the Cottonwood Canyons, a foot at Snowbasin and 6 inches in Park City, but only a little bit more terrain opened. After only a few inches here and there in mid-December, the Wasatch got 2+ feet just before Christmas, but holiday open terrain and season snowfall still fell just short of 2011-12 and were the lowest since 1980-81. First half of January snowfall was 2 feet in the Cottonwood areas and about one foot elsewhere. Terrain remains limited at many areas but may improve with upcoming storms. Utah needs 3+ feet more snow to get close to full operation.

Area

Season Snow

Pct. of Normal

Pct. of Area Open

Alta

99

44%

76%

Snowbird SNOTEL

87

43%

42%

Brighton/Solitude

88

42%

81%

Park City (mid estimate)

55

45%

28%

Snowbasin

79

60%

65%

Brian Head

36

29%

28%

Northern and Central Colorado: A-Basin opened a run on snowmaking October 13 followed by Loveland on October 20. November snowfall was about half average and all skiing was on a manmade base of no more than 18 inches. A-Basin is 36% open. First half of December snowfall averaged about one foot. The Northwest storm track finally hit at Christmas with 2+ feet from Steamboat through the Continental Divide with less at Vail and Beaver Creek. However, as of New Year's only Steamboat and Winter Park were more than half open, with most areas only slightly better off than in 2011-12. Vail had less open than any New Year's since 1980-81. This region averaged 2 feet of snow during the first half of January. More terrain is opening each week in January, similar to December of an average season. February and March should be close to full operation if normal snowfall continues.

Area

Season Snow

Pct. of Normal

Pct. of Area Open

Beaver Creek

67

48%

61%

Breckenridge

107

76%

66%

Copper Mt.

86

72%

60%

Keystone

83

85%

69%

Loveland

105

77%

48%

Steamboat

110

69%

97%

Vail

72

47%

71%

Winter Park

114

76%

86%

Southern and Western Colorado: This region has been driest of all, record dry into early January, so most skiing is on limited snowmaking. The Rocky Mountain Biological Lab at Gothic (between Crested Butte and Aspen) had 17 inches in October and 55 inches through January 8, the total being the lowest in 44 years of records. Even Wolf Creek had just 30 inches between November 8 and January 8 and reports a 27 inch base even after last week's storm dropped 1.5 feet over most of the region. Aspen/Snowmass has similar conditions as the northern and central areas above. Farther south, the first two months of the season were so dry that these areas should be avoided before mid-February at the earliest. Advanced terrain is unlikely to be open before then unless there are major dumps. New Mexico missed out on last week's storm too, so Taos is more likely than not to be a lost cause for 2017-18 as it usually needs over two months to build a substantial snowpack on its steep terrain. There has probably been less than one foot of natural snowfall all season in New Mexico through mid-January. Much of Crested Butte's North Face is also in danger of not opening at all this season.

Area

Season Snow

Pct. of Normal

Pct. of Area Open

Aspen/Snowmass

60

60%

53%

Gothic Snow Lab

67

46%

N/A

Crested Butte

59

58%

41%

Telluride

44

41%

19%

Purgatory

37

35%

69%

Wolf Creek

69

46%

98%

Northeast: Killington was the first opening on November 8 as there was too much warm weather and rain in October. There was gradual terrain expansion on snowmaking since Thanksgiving but natural snow was mainly in northern Vermont. Second week of December snowfall averaged 3 feet in Northern Vermont and 2 feet elsewhere, setting up the region for a very good holiday season. The Northeast averaged 2 feet of snow during the second half of December, but there was bitter cold during most of the holiday period. In early January the cold persisted with 1-2 feet of snow. Heavy warm rain fell Jan. 12-13, followed by a hard freeze, resulting in reduced trail counts and grim conditions for MLK weekend. Percents open: Okemo 68%, Stratton 70%, Sugarloaf 31%, Sunday River 60%, Hunter 81%, Tremblant 74%, Mt. Ste. Anne 51%.

Area

Season Snow

Pct. of Normal

Pct. of Area Open

Jay Peak (mid estimate)

166

121%

67%

Stowe

127

91%

75%

Sugarbush

62

54%

61%

Killington

77

73%

54

Whiteface

95

115%

71%

Cannon

77

119%

57%

Le Massif

70

69%

71%

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