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. This trend continued into March, finally opening most terrain in previously drought-stricken Arizona and New Mexico. In the past week and a half, the storm track has shifted north similar to the early season.
In March even more than February, snow preservation rather than coverage is the key issue. 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 be presumed to have spring conditions in March unless there is fresh snow. 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 was 9-15 feet new snow in February, bringing base depths at high elevations to 12 feet or more. There was another 2-3 feet early in March, but nothing in the past 10 days. Kirkwood's year-to-date snow is now 428 inches (108% of normal) and Mammoth's 395 (133% of normal). Southern California and Arizona had 4-6 feet of snow in February to open most terrain, plus 2-4 feet so far in March. 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.
RSN March Snow: Squaw 33, Sugar Bowl 39, Heavenly 31, Northstar 28.
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. Since then, snowfall was below average for over a month, but has picked up again in the last 2 weeks. Whistler Blackcomb has a 114-inch base. Mt. Baker's 205-265 inch base has caught up with Kirkwood's (204-264) in California. Mt. Bachelor reports a 148-161 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.
Ski Central/RSN March Snow: Alyeska 85, Whistler 28, Baker 86, Stevens 61, Crystal 45, Hood Meadows 31, Mt. Bachelor 39.
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 185 inches, 103% of normal. Louise (76-81 inch base, Whitehorn now open) , Sunshine (87 inch base) and the Okanagan and Kootenay areas are back in powder again with substantial snow over the past 2 weeks.
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
RSN March Snow: Big White 46.5, Red Mt. 34, Fernie 44, Sunshine 59
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, but heavy March snow is holding off spring for awhile. Jackson Hole's YTD snow is 376 inches, 114% of normal. Grand Targhee's base is now 65-196 inches. Big Sky opened Lone Peak at Christmas. Big Mountain and Schweitzer are 100% open on 6-8 feet. Sun Valley (YTD snow 137 inches, 84% 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.
RSN March Snow: Schweitzer 30, Big Mountain 38, Big Sky 45, Targhee 51.
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 had 6-10 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 464 inches (112% of normal) and all areas are in full operation (Jupiter Bowl opened Jan. 7). March has brought 4-5 feet new snow to the Wasatch, and conditions are excellent.
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 120, Brighton 106, Park City 75, The Canyons 77.
RSN March Snow: Snowbird 59, Brighton 62, Brian Head 59, Park City 52, The Canyons 42.
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 345 inches, 119% of normal). The central and southern track of February/ early March generated frequent snow throughout the region, and the current storms from the Northwest are also reaching most of these areas. Vail has had 274.5 inches, 93% of normal, Winter Park 293.5 inches, 100% of normal, and Breckenridge 228 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.
RSN March Snow: Copper 37, Keystone 29, Loveland 32.
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 were more substantial, allowing Snowmass' Hanging Valley and CB's North Face to open (base now 48-63 inches). The recent southern storm track boosted Telluride's base over 5 feet. Taos has improved and now has most of its 44 expert runs (on a rotating basis to preserve cover) open on a 52-inch base. Conditions at the Colorado areas are good now, and the base should hold up for the rest of the season.
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.
RSN March Snow: Aspen 33, Crested Butte 36, Telluride 43, Taos 21.
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 of February saw a thaw and partial meltdown, so some areas were down to 50-60% operation. Last week's snow reopened many runs, but more warm weather is expected. 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.
RSN March Snow: Jay 25, Stowe 22, Killington 15, Stratton 26, Sugarloaf 36, Snowshoe, WV 3.