2016-17 Ski Season Progress Report as of January 31, 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 the first half of January was the series of atmospheric rivers hammering California. Adjacent regions received abundant snow too. A similar AR storm hit Jan. 19-24, hitting California, Utah and the Southwest the hardest.

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. During the fist week of January it snowed 4-7 feet. Over the weekend of January 7-8 the rain/snow line rose to 10,000 feet but it snowed an additional 6-10 feet over the next 4 days. The Jan. 19-24 storm dumped an additioinbal 7-9 feet, resulting in a record snowfall month for most Sierra areas. Current base depths are 9-14 feet at most Tahoe areas and 14-25 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

376

186%

85%

Alpine Meadows

330.5

185%

100%

Mt. Rose

434

256%

100%

Northstar (mid-estimate)

310

203%

88%

Heavenly

382

196%

100%

Kirkwood

390

165%

100%

Mammoth

335.5

188%

100%

Southern Cal

119.5

222%

100%


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. The first half of January was cool to preserve the snow well as the heaviest storms tracked south. Snowfall ranged from one foot at Whistler to 2 feet in Washington and 4-6 feet in Oregon. During the third week of January it rained fairly high in Washington and Oregon but snowed 1+ foot later. Whistler got 3+ feet on its upper half.

Area

Season Snow

Pct. of Normal

Pct. of Area Open

Whistler

252

105%

100%

Crystal Mt.

195

85%

100%

Stevens Pass

229

84%

100%

Mt. Hood

269

105%

100%

Mt. Bachelor

281

132%

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 and Sun Peaks ae 100% open. The first half of January was cold with only about a foot of new snow. About 1.5 feet fell in the second half of January as the stork track continued to the south.

Area

Season Snow

Pct. of Normal

Pct. of Area Open

Big White

150

91%

91%

Lake Louise

112

114%

92%

Sunshine

152

109%

88%

Revelstoke

217

103%

100%

Kicking Horse

140

93%

100%

Whitewater

218

98%

100%

Red Mt.

122

79%

100%

Fernie

178

94%

100%

Castle Mt.

178

118%

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 to attain 4+ foot bases. Big Sky was farther behind but improved during Christmas week to 83% open. Sun Valley and the Tetons got 4 feet of snow in the first half of January and other areas about 2 feet. Most areas got about 2 feet in the second half of January.

Area

Season Snow

Pct. of Normal

Pct. of Area Open

Grand Targhee

237

90%

100%

Jackson Hole (mid)

231

107%

89%

Whitefish

181

98%

100%

Bridger

105

67%

100%

Schweitzer

135

86%

100%

Brundage

151

88%

98%

Sun Valley

158

140%

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 holiday base depths were 5-6 feet and Park City base depths were 3+ feet. Brian Head in the far south lagged until nearly Christmas but got 5 feet of snow in late December. The California storms tracked into the Wasatch, dumping 6 feet during the first half of January and 4-7 feet during the second half.

Area

Season Snow

Pct. of Normal

Pct. of Area Open

Alta

313

115%

100%

Snowbird

308

125%

100%

Brighton/Solitude

323

127%

100%

Park City (mid estimate)

204

135%

96%

Snowbasin

270

169%

100%

Brian Head

199

130%

100%

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 Christmas 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. The California storms continued into Colorado, averaging 5 feet in this region during the first half of January. About two feet fell in the second half of January.

Area

Season Snow

Pct. of Normal

Pct. of Area Open

Beaver Creek

184

108%

100%

Breckenridge

199

111%

100%

Copper Mt.

181

124%

99%

Keystone

191

161%

100%

Loveland

217

132%

71%

Steamboat

223

115%

100%

Vail

156

84%

100%

Winter Park

202

111%

99%

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 California storms during the first half of January brought 8 feet of snow to Wolf Creek and Crested Butte (thus opening the North Face), 6+ feet to Aspen and 5 feet elsewhere. Second half of Januar snowfall ranged from 1 foot at Aspen to 4 feet at the most southern areas. Kachina Peak at Taos opened late in January.

Area

Season Snow

Pct. of Normal

Pct. of Area Open

Aspen

187

151%

100%

Gothic Snow Lab

251

140%

N/A

Crested Butte

243

195%

89%

Telluride

206

156%

96%

Purgatory

189

148%

100%

Wolf Creek

317

171%

100%

Taos

100

90%

95%

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 saw both rain and snow but had a rain/freeze event reducing trail counts just before MLK weekend. Conditions turned around during the second half of Janauy with 3-4 feet in northern New England and 2 feet elsewhere. Percents open: Okemo 93%, Stratton 88%, Hunter 81%, Sunday River 90%, Sugarloaf 88%, Tremblant 98%, Mont Ste. Anne 100%.

Area

Season Snow

Pct. of Normal

Pct. of Area Open

Jay Peak (mid estimate)

225

130%

96%

Stowe

162

95%

97%

Sugarbush

182

125%

99%

Killington

108

82%

92%

Whiteface

130

130%

91%

Cannon Mt.

100

122%

93%

Le Massif

127

105%

100%

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