2016-17 Ski Season Progress Report as of February 28, 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. The warm Pacific storms continued in early February, hitting the West Coast again but this time tracking farther north. Rain to 8,000 feet extended inland to Utah and Idaho but most areas got ample snow after the rain. Mid-February temperatures were warm, and some Northwest storms had high snow levels. But late February snowfall continued strong in most western regions.

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 first 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 additional 7-9 feet, resulting in a record snowfall month for most Sierra areas. The week of storms ending February 10 included a day of rain to 9,000 feet but also snowed 5-8 feet. Second half of February snowfall was another 6-8 feet. Current base depths are 10-20 feet at most Tahoe areas and 16-29 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

572

182%

100%

Alpine Meadows

492

193%

100%

Mt. Rose

622

264%

100%

Northstar (mid-estimate)

452

213%

88%

Heavenly

556

192%

100%

Kirkwood

578

171%

100%

Mammoth

503

201%

100%

Southern Cal

141.5

159%

70-100%


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. Most of the region got 4-5 feet of snow during the first half of February. A mid-February storm rained to 7,000 feet but later February snow ranged from 2 feet at Whistler to 6 feet in Oregon.

Area

Season Snow

Pct. of Normal

Pct. of Area Open

Whistler

316

103%

100%

Crystal Mt.

311

106%

100%

Stevens Pass

319

91%

100%

Mt. Hood

385

118%

100%

Mt. Bachelor

401

145%

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 are 100% open since Christmas. 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 storm track continued to the south. Conditions improved during the first half of February with 2-4 feet of snow. After mid-February rain to over 5,000 feet, later February snowfall was 3-4 feet west of the Selkirks and 1-2 feet farther east.

Area

Season Snow

Pct. of Normal

Pct. of Area Open

Big White

208

100%

100%

Lake Louise

139

116%

97%

Sunshine

201

114%

88%

Revelstoke

275

104%

100%

Kicking Horse

186

101%

100%

Whitewater

320

113%

100%

Red Mt.

185

93%

100%

Fernie

270

100%

100%

Castle Mt.

270

140%

100%

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. First half of February storms hit Sun Valley and the Tetons with 5-6 feet and other areas with 2-4 feet. Jackson Hole was closed for a week due to downed power lines. 4-5 feet fell during the second half of February throughout the region.

Area

Season Snow

Pct. of Normal

Pct. of Area Open

Grand Targhee

324

94%

100%

Jackson Hole (mid)

349

124%

89%

Whitefish

296

126%

100%

Bridger

188

91%

100%

Schweitzer

261

129%

100%

Brundage

227

104%

98%

Sun Valley

289

197%

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. Early February snow averaged 2 feet. The big dumps resumed during the second half of February, ranging from 5 feet in Park City to 7+ feet in the Cottonwood areas.

Area

Season Snow

Pct. of Normal

Pct. of Area Open

Alta

434

120%

100%

Snowbird

428

129%

100%

Brighton/Solitude

440

129%

100%

Park City (mid estimate)

294

142%

96%

Snowbasin

370

174%

100%

Brian Head

237

110%

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 and three feet scattered through February.

Area

Season Snow

Pct. of Normal

Pct. of Area Open

Beaver Creek

224

100%

100%

Breckenridge

230

93%

100%

Copper Mt.

210

109%

100%

Keystone

219

140%

100%

Loveland

261

120%

100%

Steamboat

267

105%

100%

Vail

185

75%

100%

Winter Park

239

100%

100%

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 January snowfall ranged from 1 foot at Aspen to 4 feet at the most southern areas. Kachina Peak at Taos opened late in January. First half of February snowfall ranged from 2+ feet at Aspen and Crested Butte to 1 foot at the southern areas. Second half of February snowfall was 3 feet at Wolf Creek and about 2 feet elsewhere.

Area

Season Snow

Pct. of Normal

Pct. of Area Open

Aspen

232

134%

100%

Gothic Snow Lab

313

126%

N/A

Crested Butte

302

175%

96%

Telluride

251

128%

96%

Purgatory

231

131%

100%

Wolf Creek

382

149%

100%

Taos

160

91%

99%

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 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 January with 3-4 feet in northern New England and 2 feet elsewhere. The first half of February was excellent with 2+ feet in Quebec and 4 feet in most of the US Northeast ski areas. After 1-2 feet of mid-month snow, there was a major warm spell starting President's weekend. Conditions have deteriorated with some terrain closing by the end of February. Percents open: Okemo 87%, Stratton 76%, Hunter 69%, Sunday River 61%, Sugarloaf 85%, Tremblant 68%, Mont Ste. Anne 100%.

Area

Season Snow

Pct. of Normal

Pct. of Area Open

Jay Peak (mid estimate)

321

132%

97%

Stowe

250

111%

79%

Sugarbush

250

127%

70%

Killington

166

93%

57%

Whiteface

187

142%

78%

Cannon Mt.

179

152%

62%

Le Massif

163

96%

100%

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