2017-18 Ski Season Progress Report as of December 16, 2017

October 2017 snowfall was strongest in the higher elevations of western Canada and the northern Rockies with some lesser amounts in Colorado. First half of November snowfall was high in the Pacific Northwest and inland northern regions, resulting in some early openings and deep snowpacks. There was also an atmospheric river storm mid-November in California. Thanksgiving week brought widespread rain to 9,000 feet to the northern regions, degrading the snowpack at lower elevations. Thanksgiving snowpacks were still over 4 feet at Mt. Baker, Whistler and Grand Targhee. The farther south you go, the less November snow there was, and some opening dates were pushed back. The western US was under the predicted sustained high pressure for the first half of December and may persist another week. Utah and Colorado should be avoided well into January and the Southwest until February. Skiing in other regions has an adequate snowpack at higher elevations. Lower elevations had a lot of November rain, resulting in variable coverage and surfaces. Top ski conditions for the holidays will likely be at Grand Targhee, Whistler, Banff/Lake Louise and Mammoth. Jackson, Big Sky and many other areas in western Canada are also reasonable alternatives to the drought stricken regions farther south.

California: An early November storm only snowed more than a few inches north of Lake Tahoe and over 8,000 feet. The second week's storm was much bigger though also snow mostly over 8,000 feet. Mt. Rose got 4 feet and Mammoth got 2+ feet at its Main Lodge snow plot but 5+ feet up top. Thanksgiving week had a bit of rain followed by warm weather resulting in spring conditions. A foot of snow in late November restored surfaces to the areas with an adequate base over 8,000 feet. With December being mostly dry Mt. Rose and Mammoth will continue to have the best skiing. Other areas are in more limited operation on 2-foot bases and will not have enough terrain for holiday crowds in the absence of new snow. 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

57

58%

24%

Alpine Meadows

39.5

53%

20%

Mt. Rose

65

88%

78%

Heavenly

33

40%

8%

Kirkwood

37

37%

71%

Mammoth

36

47%

71%

Southern Cal

0

0%

0-23%

Arizona Snowbowl

0

0%

13%

Pacific Northwest: The region had some October storms but the rain/snow line was above all but the alpine sectors of Whistler and Mt. Bachelor. First half of November snowfall was widespread and many areas opened by November 18. The Thanksgiving week rain reduced the Mt. Baker and Whistler base depths from 6 feet to 4 feet. Base depths elsewhere were reduced to the 2 foot range. Late November snow improved surfaces and restored about a foot of base lost by the rain. Much of the Whistler alpine opened Dec. 9 after extensive avalanche control, resulting in twice as much open terrain as anywhere else in North America. The Northwest had a scattered foot of snow during the first half of December and may get some more next week. Likely holiday base depths are 5 feet at Wistler and Mt. Baker and 3 feet elsewhere.

Area

Season Snow

Pct. of Normal

Pct. of Area Open

Whistler

160

135%

88%

Crystal Mt.

96

92%

65%

Stevens Pass

89

72%

62%

Mt. Hood

84

72%

40%

Mt. Bachelor

82

80%

19%

Canadian Rockies and Interior B.C.: Snowfall was abundant in this region from late October through mid-November. Thanksgiving week rain affected the Okanogan and Kootenay areas, though base depths declined only at Fernie, remaining near 3 feet at most other areas. With 2+ feet of snow in late November/early December, base depths reached the 3-4 foot range and this is the best overall ski region for the upcoming holiday season. Silver Star is 90% open and Sun Peaks 67%.

Area

Season Snow

Pct. of Normal

Pct. of Area Open

Big White

59

72%

69%

Lake Louise

93

186%

83%

Sunshine

119

172%

77%

Revelstoke

101

96%

25%

Kicking Horse

124

162%

76%

Whitewater

89

88%

82%

Red Mt.

55

78%

27%

Fernie

93

96%

70%

Castle Mt.

100

146%

26%

U. S. Northern Rockies: Grand Targhee had 115 inches snowfall by mid-November, and thus opened 82% on Nov. 17 and 100% by Thanksgiving. Interior Northwest areas got the rain and December 1 base depths were in the 2+ foot range. Most areas got a little under a foot of snow in early December before the high pressure set in. Big Sky is 47% open on a 27-40 inch base. The deepest snow is the 5+ feet at Targhee and 4 feet on the upper half of Jackson.

Area

Season Snow

Pct. of Normal

Pct. of Area Open

Grand Targhee

146

126%

100%

Jackson Hole

101

105%

42%

Bridger

73

101%

100%

Schweitzer

95

132%

41%

Brundage

66

85%

2%

Sun Valley

45

90%

28%

Utah: Utah had minimal October snow and was on the edge of November storms. Some opening dates were delayed and any skiing is on limited snowmaking. An early December storm dropped up to 18 inches in the Cottonwood Canyons, a foot at Snowbasin and 6 inches in Park City, but only a little bit more terrain opened. With only a few inches here and there in mid-December Utah is on track for its second worst early season in 50 years and should be avoided before mid-January unless there is a major dump earlier.

Area

Season Snow

Pct. of Normal

Pct. of Area Open

Alta

43.5

33%

15%

Snowbird

41

35%

6%

Brighton/Solitude

36

29%

25%

Park City (mid estimate)

26

36%

6%

Snowbasin

41

53%

9%

Brian Head

0

0%

15%

Northern and Central Colorado: A-Basin opened a run on snowmaking October 13 followed by Loveland on October 20. November snowfall was about half average and all skiing was on a manmade base of no more than 18 inches. A-Basin is 12% open. First half of December snowfall has averaged about one foot. With the ongoing dry spell holiday skiing will be excessively congested, largely snowmaking dependent and less terrain will be open than in 2011-12 or any season since 1999-2000. Minimal advanced terrain is likely to open before mid-January.

Area

Season Snow

Pct. of Normal

Pct. of Area Open

Beaver Creek

30

36%

13%

Breckenridge

48

64%

11%

Copper Mt.

37

52%

10%

Keystone

41

70%

10%

Loveland

41

50%

17%

Steamboat

52

55%

21%

Vail

31

34%

6%

Winter Park

56

60%

21%

Southern and Western Colorado: This region has been driest of all so far with no end in sight, so all skiing is on limited snowmaking. The Rocky Mountain Biological Lab at Gothic (between Crested Butte and Aspen) had 17 inches in October and 24 inches since, the total being second lowest in 44 years of records. Even Wolf Creek has had just 43 inches (28 of it during the first week of November) and reports 60% open but on a sketchy 13 inch base. Taos is 4% open. Aspen/Snowmass has similar conditions as the northern and central areas above. Farther south, the first month and a half of the season has been so dry that these areas should be avoided before February. Advanced terrain is unlikely to be open before February unless there are major dumps. Taos and Crested Butte, needing substantial snowpacks on steep terrain, are unlikely to approach full operation before March.

Area

Season Snow

Pct. of Normal

Pct. of Area Open

Aspen/Snowmass

26

44%

13%

Gothic Snow Lab

24

28%

N/A

Crested Butte

18

31%

12%

Telluride

14

22%

7%

Purgatory

12

19%

10%

Wolf Creek

43

48%

60%

Northeast: Killington was the first opening on November 8 as there was too much warm weather and rain in October. There was gradual terrain expansion on snowmaking since Thanksgiving but natural snow was mainly in northern Vermont. Second week of December snowfall averaged 3 feet in Northern Vermont and 2 feet elsewhere, setting up the region for a very good holiday season. Percents open: Okemo 54%, Stratton 56%, Sugarloaf 22%, Sunday River 35%, Tremblant 71%, Mt. Ste. Anne 51%, Hunter 71%.

Area

Season Snow

Pct. of Normal

Pct. of Area Open

Jay Peak (mid estimate)

93

138%

94%

Stowe

72

88%

87%

Sugarbush

35

57%

57%

Killington

37

67%

56%

Whiteface

52

108%

31%

Cannon

36

115%

48%

Le Massif

33

60%

44%

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