2016-17 Ski Season Progress Report as of December 1, 2016

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, are huge red flags, as is 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. Early season planning should still assume the season is about 2 weeks behind schedule at most areas in the western US. The standout area for the early season is Whistler, which has a 76-inch base and 5,200 acres open Dec. 1. Base depths exceed 4 feet elsewhere only at Mt. Baker, Revelstoke and Whitewater. 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.

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. 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

59

102%

17%

Alpine Meadows

52

127%

20%

Mt. Rose

35

81%

52%

Heavenly

27

54%

4%

Kirkwood

33

55%

16%

Mammoth

21.5

49%

24%

Southern Cal

5

60%

0-23%


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 and is 87% open. Elsewhere base depths average about 3 feet.

Area

Season Snow

Pct. of Normal

Pct. of Area Open

Whistler

125

163%

72%

Crystal Mt.

44

68%

65%

Stevens Pass

49

64%

26%

Mt. Hood

55

77%

46%

Mt. Bachelor

52

81%

20%

>

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.

Area

Season Snow

Pct. of Normal

Pct. of Area Open

Big White

49

88%

5%

Lake Louise

53

150%

60%

Sunshine

72

155%

57%

Revelstoke

91

129%

Dec. 3

Kicking Horse

67

125%

Dec. 9

Whitewater

93

150%

Dec. 9

Red Mt.

31

71%

Dec. 10

Fernie

50

84%

5%

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. Other areas have been even drier than the Tetons. Big Sky is 1% open. Only Targhee is likely to approach full operation by Christmas.

Area

Season Snow

Pct. of Normal

Pct. of Area Open

Grand Targhee

52

75%

60%

Jackson Hole

33

54%

6%

Schweitzer

36

81%

9%

Sun Valley

6

15%

5%

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. Normal December snowfall will get the Cottonwood Canyons areas in decent shape by Christmas, but other Utah areas should be avoided before January.

Area

Season Snow

Pct. of Normal

Pct. of Area Open

Alta

75

86%

60%

Snowbird

77

103%

10%

Brighton/Solitude

73

91%

31%

Park City (mid estimate)

32

67%

3%

Snowbasin

38

75%

33%

Northern and Central Colorado: A-Basin opened a run on snowmaking October 21 but remains only 4% open. 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 are still in the snowmaking dependent 18-inch range despite an average foot of new snow since then. Based upon data back to 1988, most areas in this region average a little over half open at Christmas when skiing was this limited at Thanksgiving. This means minimal advanced terrain will be open and excessive slope crowding is likely during the holidays. Steamboat historically has the best odds of overcoming this snow deficit, but in general this region should be avoided before January after a start this slow.

Area

Season Snow

Pct. of Normal

Pct. of Area Open

Beaver Creek

33

58%

7%

Breckenridge

31

67%

7%

Copper Mt.

26

54%

5%

Keystone

28

71%

3%

Loveland

29

53%

6%

Steamboat

41

64%

4%

Vail

27

44%

9%

Winter Park

42

62%

6%

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. Nonetheless the snow deficit vs. normal remains large, base depths are under two feet except for 3 feet at Wolf Creek and thus other areas should be avoided before January.

Area

Season Snow

Pct. of Normal

Pct. of Area Open

Aspen

37

96%

6%

Gothic Snow Lab

36

65%

N/A

Crested Butte

23

59%

9%

Telluride

47

110%

3%

Purgatory

35

84%

13%

Wolf Creek

58

96%

100%

Taos

25

50%

Dec. 15

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 Thanksging has had some rain so conditions are variable. Percents open: Okemo 9%, Stratton 12%, Hunter 17%, Sunday River 11%, Sugarloaf 4%, Tremblant 5%.

Area

Season Snow

Pct. of Normal

Pct. of Area Open

Jay Peak (mid)

21

66%

Dec. 3

Stowe

22

42%

13%

Sugarbush

27

80%

4%

Killington

18

59%

12%

Whiteface

25

81%

8%

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