After an extremely warm and dry November, many regions of the West received normal or better snowfall during the first 3 weeks of December. The dry weather returned for the rest of December. Only in Canada was season snowfall before New Year's above average. The Pacific Northwest and Northern Rockies had enough snow in December for nearly all terrain to open, and these regions plus Utah had major dumps in the first half of January. In the second half of January the Sierra and much of Colorado got major dumps to recover from the slow early season.
In the past week the storm track has moved south and brought major snow to California, Utah and Colorado. From this point forward, snow preservation rather than coverage is the key issue, except for the drought-stricken Southwest and a handful of expert runs elsewhere in Colorado. Snow preservation is very predictable by the altitude and exposure characteristics of each area, as outlined in my regional detail tables. This information, combined with current snow reports to determine recent snowfall, should give an educated assessment of current conditions. Areas facing direct sun may still preserve a packed powder snow surface if temperatures remain below about 20F. In general, ski area reports are more candid regarding coverage and open terrain than surface conditions..
Just a few areas post season-to-date snowfall on their websites. At the end of the regional sections, I list selected Ski Central or RSN month-to-date snow totals for other resorts, making educated guesses as to which resorts have supplied complete data for the month.
California: The Sierra received several small storms by the first half of December, followed by 4 dry weeks. There was at least 9 feet new snow in the last half of January, with more at higher elevation. There has been 4-6 feet new snow in the past week, bringing base depths up to a fairly normal 6-12 feet. Kirkwood's year-to-date snow is now 264 inches (90% of normal) and Mammoth's 273 (124% of normal), with both areas in full operation. Southern California and Arizona remain in extreme drought, even after several inches natural snow last week, and the only skiing is on snowmaking. See Current California Ski Conditions for more details on Southern California and Mammoth.
Ski Central December Snow: Squaw 29, Sugar Bowl 31, Northstar 23.
RSN January Snow: Squaw 100, Sugar Bowl 111, Heavenly 103, Northstar 102.
RSN February Snow: Squaw 41, Sugar Bowl 78, Heavenly 46, Northstar 51.
See the California regional table for snow preservation tendencies.
Pacific Northwest: These areas received the most snow in early December, and after a dry holiday, major new snow in the first half of January. These areas had some rain/snow mix in the first week of February, but only Oregon got anything last weekend. Whistler Blackcomb has a 97-inch base. Mt. Baker's 155-207 inch base is now being challenged by Kirkwood in California. Mt. Bachelor reports a 126-139 inch base.
Ski Central December Snow: Alyeska 53, Whistler 66.5, Baker 144, Stevens 105, Crystal 66, Hood Meadows 79.
Ski Central / RSN January Snow: Whistler 65, Baker 151, Stevens 106, Crystal 82, Hood Meadows 106, Mt. Bachelor 105.
Ski Central / RSN February Snow: Whistler 16, Baker 40, Stevens 26, Crystal 25, Hood Meadows 27, Mt. Bachelor 31.
See the Pacific Northwest regional table for snow preservation tendencies.
Canadian Rockies and Interior B.C.: Lake Louise and Sunshine were the only western areas with a strong early season. After an average January, there was some snow the first week of February. Total snowfall at Louise is now 155 inches, 108% of normal. Louise (65-74 inch base, Whitehorn now open) , Sunshine (79 inch base) and the Okanagan areas are in good shape. The Kootenay areas have new snow, but like the NW saw some low elevation rain.
Ski Central December Snow: Silver Star 29.5, Red Mt. 31.5, Fernie 60 since Dec. 9.
RSN January Snow: Red Mt. 57, Fernie 81
RSN February Snow: Big White 13, Red Mt. 10, Fernie 34, Sunshine 30
See the Interior Canada regional table for snow preservation tendencies.
U. S. Northern Rockies: The northern areas had January weather similar to their Canadian neighbors, while the Tetons had heavy snowfall all month. The Tetons have also received more snow so far in February than the northern areas. Jackson Hole's YTD snow is 292 inches, 114% of normal. Grand Targhee's base is now 53-145 inches. Big Sky opened Lone Peak at Christmas. Big Mountain and Schweitzer are 100% open on 6-8 feet. Sun Valley (YTD snow 100 inches, 78% of normal) has been in full operation since about January 10.
Ski Central December Snow: Schweitzer 77, Big Mountain 64, Big Sky 75, Targhee 61.5.
RSN January Snow: Schweitzer 54, Big Mountain 76, Big Sky 85, Targhee 100.
RSN February Snow: Schweitzer 13, Big Mountain 14, Big Sky 20, Targhee 27.
See the Northern Rockies regional table for snow preservation tendencies.
Utah: Most areas received 6 feet of snow in January, finally regaining most of the ground lost in November. Utah got 3-5 feet new over this past weekend, bringing base depths to 8+ feet in the Cottonwood Canyons and 5-6 feet elsewhere. Alta's year-to-date snow is now 312 inches (99% of normal) and all areas are in full operation (Jupiter Bowl opened Jan. 7).
Ski Central December Snow: Snowbird 96, Brighton 57, Brian Head 45.5, Park City 29.5, The Canyons 36.
RSN January Snow: Snowbird 74, Brighton 74, Park City 61, The Canyons 69.
RSN February Snow: Snowbird 56, Brighton 57, Park City 31, The Canyons 36.
See the Utah regional table for snow preservation tendencies.
Northern and Central Colorado: This region received substantial snow in mid-December, average snow in early January, and bigger dumps later in the month. Most areas got another 2 feet in the past week. The northern track of earlier storms brought excellent conditions to Steamboat (YTD snow 259 inches, 112% of normal). Vail has had 198 inches, 89% of normal, Winter Park 203 inches, 92% of normal, and Breckenridge 175 inches 102% of normal. Only a few isolated sectors of expert terrain, such as Vasquez Cirque, are not yet open.
Ski Central December Snow: Copper 66, Keystone 63, Loveland 80.
RSN January Snow: Copper 37, Keystone 48, Loveland 50.
RSN February Snow: Copper 26, Keystone 21, Loveland 31.
See the Northern and Central Colorado regional table for snow preservation tendencies.
Southern and Western Colorado: This region was severely drought impacted, with less than 1 foot natural snow in November plus about half normal snow in December. Aspen and Crested Butte received much of the same January storms as Northern Colorado. Last week's 2-3 foot storm was the largest of the season, allowing some but not all of Snowmass' Hanging Valley and CB's North Face to open (base now 40-64 inches). Purgatory and Telluride now report everything open, though the base is less than 4 feet. Taos is still in trouble with only 6 of its 44 expert runs open on a 36-inch base. As snow tends to accumulate gradually in this region, advanced skiers should still be wary of these areas, pending further increases in base depths.
Ski Central December Snow: Aspen 28, Crested Butte 19, Telluride 34.
RSN January Snow: Aspen 50, Crested Butte 62, Telluride 46, Taos 34.
RSN February Snow: Aspen 22, Crested Butte 40, Telluride 22, Taos 9.
Snow preservation is excellent in this region once the terrain is adequately covered. See the Southern and Western Colorado regional table for details.
Northeast: New England had only about half its normal November / December snowfall, but most of the usual snowmaking leaders were over half open for the holidays. Unfortunately, a severe thaw and some rain degraded conditions after New Year's. The East has finally received major snow in the last 3 weeks, and current conditions are excellent with fresh powder in northern Vermont. As my report is an overview, I strongly recommend checking Vermont No-Bull Ski Report for up to date information in this region, where both weather and surface conditions can change so rapidly. Surface conditions are much more a function of recent weather in the East, as opposed to altitude and exposure in the West.
Ski Central/RSN December Snow: Jay 64, Sugarbush 38, Killington 36, Lake Placid 16, Snowshoe, WV 31.
RSN January Snow: Jay 109, Stratton 53, Killington 36, Sugarbush 35, Sugarloaf 48, Snowshoe, WV 54.
RSN February Snow: Jay 111, Stowe 60, Killington 18, Stratton 28, Sugarloaf 27, Snowshoe, WV 18.