There was only one snowy week in the western US during November. No ski area more than 100 miles south of the Canadian border received as much as half its normal November snowfall. The Pacific Northwest and some of the Northern Rockies are getting major snow in December, but holiday skiing will be limited in other regions without some big dumps to make up for the November shortfall. Whistler (82-inch mid-mountain base, 80% of terrain open) remains the favorite destination resort now for best holiday skiing conditions. Other recommendations: Mt Bachelor, Big White, Sunshine, Fernie, Grand Targhee, Jackson Hole. In other regions, skiers expecting to ski at Christmas should consider areas with extensive snowmaking or historical propensity to big dumps. Only a few areas post season-to-date snowfall on their websites. At the end of the regional sections, I list selected Ski Central 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 has received up to several small storms in December (but no big dumps), providing some assist to ongoing snowmaking. Similar to last year's La Nina, the most snow has fallen north of Tahoe. Alpine Meadows and Sugar Bowl are now 40% open on about a 3-4 foot base, with similar conditions in Squaw's upper terrain. Kirkwood's year-to-date snow is now 40 inches and Mammoth's 30, with both areas about 10% open. Heavenly has upper runs in both states open on snowmaking. Skier submitted reports warn of sketchy off-piste coverage, so conditions with holiday crowds will not be good unless there is more snow. See Current California Ski Conditions for more details on Southern California and Mammoth.
Ski Central December Snow: Squaw 31, Sugar Bowl 29, Northstar 23.
Pacific Northwest: These areas have received the most snow so far in December. Whistler Blackcomb has 5,000+ acres open on a 82-inch base. Mt. Baker's 108-143 inch base leads North America as usual. Mt. Bachelor reports a 63-75-inch base, which should mean most runs open, weather permitting. In the far north, Alyeska had a good November, attaining a 6-7 foot base by early December.
Ski Central December Snow: Whistler 60.5, Baker 137, Stevens 91, Crystal 63, Hood Meadows 74.
Canadian Rockies and Interior B.C.: Lake Louise and Sunshine were the only western areas to get substantial snow before mid-November. Total snowfall at Louise is now 93 inches. Louise (40-45 inch base) and Sunshine (60-inch base) have all lifts open, but some expert terrain needs more coverage. Big White has a 68-inch base and is about 75% open. Red (39-56 inch base) and Fernie (66-inch base) are over 90% open and should be fine for the holidays.
Ski Central December Snow: Silver Star 28.5, Red 29.5, Fernie 41 since Dec. 9.
U. S. Northern Rockies: Regional leader Grand Targhee now has a 33-66 inch base after major snow this week, so it can add another year to its perfect Christmas reliability record. Jackson Hole (YTD snow 84 inches) got the same dump, and while only 20% of the mountain is open now, locals expect most terrain to open soon on a 5+ foot base. Big Sky also got some of this snow, but I would still not expect Lone Peak to open before January. Big Mountain is 80% open. Sun Valley has received 32 inches snow and is 15% open with snowmaking assistance.
Ski Central December Snow: Schweitzer 67, Big Mountain 62, Big Sky 44, Targhee 53.5.
Utah: The Cottonwood Canyons have seen a couple of good dumps in December, regaining some of the ground lost in November. Alta's year-to-date snow is now 102 inches and they are 75% open. The other Cottonwood areas are about half open. Snow coverage is still about 2 weeks behind a normal schedule. I would not expect full operation in the Park City region until well after New Year's. Park City lost its World Cup race to Copper Mt. because it was too warm to make snow most of November.
Ski Central December Snow: Snowbird 89, Brighton 55, Brian Head 45.5, Park City 26.5, The Canyons 31.
Northern and Central Colorado: Colorado snowfall has been average so far this month, leaving the region far behind schedule after the dry November. (YTD totals: 57 inches Vail, 63 inches Steamboat and 54.5 inches Winter Park, 3 of the high natural snow areas). Steamboat got a solid 20-inch dump this week, but is still only 32% open with the best conditions in the region. An eyewitness report from Vail indicates a thin base, so it looks like Christmas will be similar to last year and the expert runs will not likely be available until January. The high altitudes do permit nearly continuous snowmaking in Summit County.
Ski Central December Snow: Breckenridge 24.5, Copper 19, Keystone 19.5, Loveland 18.5.
Southern and Western Colorado: This is the most severely drought impacted region, with less than 1 foot natural snow in November plus average (Aspen) to below average (farther south) snow so far in December. In normal years advanced terrain is often not skiable until January. This year (like last) I would not expect full operation until February. Decent skiing for the holidays would require a miracle dump over the next week.
Ski Central December Snow: Aspen 33, Crested Butte 13, Telluride 23.
Northeast: New England got up to 1.5 feet of snow in mid-November, with only far northern Vermont getting significant snow last weekend. Snowmaking progress has been intermittent with alternating warm and cold spells. The usual snowmaking leaders average 10-20 open runs now (Killington has the most, 26). As my report is an overview, I strongly recommend checking Vermont No-Bull Ski Report or New England Ski Guide's Weekend Forecast for up to date information in this region, where both weather and surface conditions can change so rapidly.
Ski Central December Snow: Jay 15, Smuggler's Notch 15, Stratton 24, Lake Placid 15, Snowshoe, WV 23.