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 the most snow in the first half of January. Since mid-January the Sierra and much of Colorado got major dumps to recover from the slow early season. As of the end of February, all western resorts are in full operation except in drought-stricken Arizona and New Mexico.
From this point forward, snow preservation rather than coverage is the key issue, except for the 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 9-15 feet new snow in February, bringing base depths at high elevations to 12 feet or more. Kirkwood's year-to-date snow is now 377 inches (110% of normal) and Mammoth's 355 (138% of normal). Southern California and Arizona have had 4-6 feet of snow in February to open most terrain. 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 110, Sugar Bowl 186, Heavenly 92, Northstar 117.
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. February snow has been below average, but frequent enough to maintain mostly packed powder conditions. Whistler Blackcomb has a 97-inch base. Mt. Baker's 156-209 inch base is now lower than Kirkwood's (180-264) in California. Mt. Bachelor reports a 130-139 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 24, Baker 92, Stevens 52, Crystal 68, Hood Meadows 60, Mt. Bachelor 70.
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. Total snowfall at Louise is now 161 inches, 101% of normal. Louise (69-74 inch base, Whitehorn now open) , Sunshine (80 inch base) and the Okanagan and Kootenay areas are in good shape despite below average February snow. There may be some spring conditions at low elevation.
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 32, Red Mt. 35, Fernie 60, Sunshine 43
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. February snow was below average, so variable conditions are likely in sunny exposures. Jackson Hole's YTD snow is 323 inches, 112% of normal. Grand Targhee's base is now 58-145 inches. Big Sky opened Lone Peak at Christmas. Big Mountain and Schweitzer are 100% open on 6-8 feet. Sun Valley (YTD snow 130 inches, 90% 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 22, Big Mountain 39, Big Sky 59, Targhee 64.
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 has had 6-9 feet new in February, bringing base depths to 9+ feet in the Cottonwood Canyons and 6-7 feet elsewhere. Alta's year-to-date snow is now 388 inches (109% 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.
Ski Central / RSN February Snow: Snowbird 120, Brighton 106, Park City 75, The Canyons 77.
See the Utah regional table for snow preservation tendencies.
Northern and Central Colorado: This region received substantial snow in mid-December, average snow in January, and above average snow in February. The northern track of earlier storms brought excellent conditions to Steamboat (YTD snow 304 inches, 117% of normal). Vail has had 238 inches, 95% of normal, Winter Park 249.5 inches, 100% of normal, and Breckenridge 193.5 inches 100% of normal.
Ski Central December Snow: Copper 66, Keystone 63, Loveland 80.
RSN January Snow: Copper 37, Keystone 48, Loveland 50.
RSN February Snow: Copper 53, Keystone 46, Loveland 51.
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. February storms have been more substantial, allowing Snowmass' Hanging Valley and CB's North Face to open (base now 47-64 inches). Purgatory and Telluride now report everything open, with a base a little over 4 feet. Taos is still far behind with only 19 of its 44 expert runs (on a rotating basis to preserve cover) open on a 50-inch base. Conditions at the Colorado areas are good now, and the base will hold up if March snowfall is average.
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 40, Crested Butte 69, Telluride 47, Taos 30.
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 had excellent skiing with high snowfall from late January through most of February. The last week has seen a thaw and partial meltdown, so many areas are now 50-80% open. 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 143, Stowe 89, Killington 57, Stratton 61, Sugarloaf 50, Snowshoe, WV 21.