2016-17 Ski Season Progress Report as of December 8, 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. The standout area for the early season is Whistler, which had a 76-inch base and 5,200 acres open Dec. 1. During the first week of December the snow continued, with Washington and Oregon areas getting most terrain open, and Utah and the Tetons making up much of the ground lost during the dry November. Elsewhere in the western US early season planning should still assume the season is about 2 weeks behind schedule. 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. A warm storm with 2-3 feet of snow over 8,000 feet is expected over the coming weekend. Lower elevations at Tahoe may remain sketchy through the holidays. 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

77%

25%

Alpine Meadows

52

92%

41%

Mt. Rose

39

68%

39%

Heavenly

27

41%

6%

Kirkwood

34

42%

20%

Mammoth

30.5

52%

23%

Southern Cal

5

40%

0-43%


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. With 2-3 feet during early December. Washington and Oregon base depths now average about 4 feet.

Area

Season Snow

Pct. of Normal

Pct. of Area Open

Whistler

130

135%

87%

Crystal Mt.

73

88%

93%

Stevens Pass

86

87%

96%

Mt. Hood

87

94%

49%

Mt. Bachelor

78

95%

38%

>

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 about a foot during early December base depths are 3-4 feet. Silver Star is 39% open and Sun Peaks is 73% open.

Area

Season Snow

Pct. of Normal

Pct. of Area Open

Big White

55

81%

38%

Lake Louise

66

154%

66%

Sunshine

88

154%

63%

Revelstoke

108

125%

27%

Kicking Horse

78

121%

Dec. 9

Whitewater

107

133%

Dec. 9

Red Mt.

46

82%

Dec. 10

Fernie

66

86%

63%

Castle Mt.

95

174%

Dec. 10

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 got another 2 feet in early December and have base depths of 2-5 feet. Big Sky is 12% open. Montana and Idaho have had less snow than the Tetons and remain about 2 weeks behind schedule in snow accumulation with base depths in the 2 foot range.

Area

Season Snow

Pct. of Normal

Pct. of Area Open

Grand Targhee

79

87%

80%

Jackson Hole

59

78%

23%

Schweitzer

42

74%

62%

Sun Valley

13

32%

11%

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. There were several inches of snow in early December but 2-3 feet are expected this weekend. The Cottonwood Canyons areas are on track to be in decent shape by Christmas, but other Utah areas may have limited advanced terrain open before January.

Area

Season Snow

Pct. of Normal

Pct. of Area Open

Alta

84

78%

60%

Snowbird

82

87%

30%

Brighton/Solitude

84

83%

35%

Park City (mid estimate)

38

66%

16%

Snowbasin

43

68%

33%

Northern and Central Colorado: A-Basin opened a run on snowmaking October 21 but remains only 7% 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 2 feet 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 would be open and excessive slope crowding woiuld be likely during the holidays. Substantial snow is predicted over the next two weeks which should improve conditions. Steamboat and Vail are the most likely areas in the region to approach full operation for the holidays.

Area

Season Snow

Pct. of Normal

Pct. of Area Open

Beaver Creek

53

76%

30%

Breckenridge

44

74%

12%

Copper Mt.

37

62%

8%

Keystone

41

84%

5%

Loveland

39

58%

7%

Steamboat

58

74%

22%

Vail

46

61%

24%

Winter Park

59

74%

8%

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. December storms are taking a more northern track so 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

50

104%

13%

Gothic Snow Lab

46

67%

N/A

Crested Butte

32

66%

16%

Telluride

52

98%

5%

Purgatory

39

76%

29%

Wolf Creek

68

91%

100%

Taos

28

47%

10%

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 had some rain but there has been 1-3 feet of snow in early Deember. Percents open: Okemo 18%, Stratton 19%, Hunter 16%, Sunday River 20%, Sugarloaf 14%, Tremblant 15%, Mont Ste. Anne 54%.

Area

Season Snow

Pct. of Normal

Pct. of Area Open

Jay Peak (mid)

52

108%

23%

Stowe

67

101%

51%

Sugarbush

64

138%

37%

Killington

35

83%

31%

Whiteface

47

120%

14%

Cannon Mt.

17

77%

29%

Le Massif

36

89%

Weekends

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