2016-17 Ski Season Progress Report as of December 23, 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, were huge red flags, as was 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 was Whistler, which had a 76-inch base and 5,200 acres open Dec. 1. During the first half of December the storm track shifted into the western US, with many areas making up the November deficit and more. Widespread snowfall during the third week of December (with another storm in progress over the holiday weekend) has brought most resorts above average in season snowfall. The only regions still lagging normal holiday operation are Tahoe low elevation, Montana east of the Continental Divide and the far Southwest.

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, and at mid-mountain locations where possible. "Mid-estimates" are for areas that only post upper info online, and apply a long term mid-to-upper ratio to those posted figures.

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. Two major storms during the first half of December were mostly rain below 8,000 feet but dumped 4-6 feet of snow at Mt. Rose and Mammoth and 3 feet at Kirkwood. Other areas had lots of rain and are in limited operation for the holidays with base depths under 3 feet. The current storm is dumping over a foot of snow in the Sierra, which will improve surfaces but it is yet unclear when more terrain will open at lower elevations. 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

76

65%

28%

Alpine Meadows

62

68%

47%

Mt. Rose

113

129%

83%

Northstar (mid-estimate)

53

67%

32%

Heavenly

63

64%

58%

Kirkwood

77

64%

100%

Mammoth

73.5

81%

100%

Southern Cal

9

42%

0-45%


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 to be 87% open Dec. 1. During the first half of December storms focused more on Washington and Oregon, dumping an average 6 feet of snow. With another foot+ of snow last week, base depths average 5-7 feet so the region is set for an excellent holiday season.

Area

Season Snow

Pct. of Normal

Pct. of Area Open

Whistler

164

119%

100%

Crystal Mt.

120

97%

100%

Stevens Pass

138

94%

100%

Mt. Hood

170

124%

100%

Mt. Bachelor

156

130%

100%

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 2-3 feet during the first half of December and another 1-2+ feet last week base depths are 4-5 feet. Silver Star is 100% open and Sun Peaks is 98% open.

Area

Season Snow

Pct. of Normal

Pct. of Area Open

Big White

102

107%

72%

Lake Louise

78

137%

80%

Sunshine

106.5

134%

73%

Revelstoke

150

124%

90%

Kicking Horse

93

107%

81%

Whitewater

150

126%

96%

Red Mt.

62

75%

100%

Fernie

112

98%

85%

Castle Mt.

120

149%

85%

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 made up completely for the slow start with 7-8 feet of snow so far in December and are set for a good holiday season with base depths of 6 feet. The interior Northwest areas in Idaho and western Montana also gained some ground and have 3-4 foot bases. Big Sky is farther behind with a 2-3 foot base and is 63% open.

Area

Season Snow

Pct. of Normal

Pct. of Area Open

Grand Targhee

137

101%

100%

Jackson Hole

128

113%

90%

Whitefish

105

107%

83%

Bridger

56

66%

100%

Schweitzer

70

83%

100%

Sun Valley

57

97%

76%

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 have been 5 feet of snow in most of the Wasatch in December with another 1-2 feet expected over the holiday weekend. Cottonwood Canyon base depths are close to 5 feet and Park City base depths are 3+ feet. Brian Head in the far south is still lagging but is gaining ground with 2 feet of snow last week.

Area

Season Snow

Pct. of Normal

Pct. of Area Open

Alta

132

86%

95%

Snowbird

136

100%

77%

Brighton/Solitude

139

97%

80%

Park City (mid estimate)

78

94%

70%

Snowbasin

100

112%

100%

Brian Head

65

77%

70%

Northern and Central Colorado:

A-Basin opened a run on snowmaking October 21, was less than 10% open for the next 6 weeks but is now 87% open due to heavy December snowfalls with above average density. 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 were still in the snowmaking dependent 18-inch range a week into December. But 5-6 feet of December snow has overcome the early deficit with more snow expected this weekend. Base depths are 3-4 feet so open terrain will be at least average for the holidays at most areas.

Area

Season Snow

Pct. of Normal

Pct. of Area Open

Beaver Creek

95

98%

84%

Breckenridge

105

118%

61%

Copper Mt.

91

110%

48%

Keystone

99

147%

88%

Loveland

96

102%

39%

Steamboat

112

103%

98%

Vail

82

78%

97%

Winter Park

114

109%

76%

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. Early December storms were on a more northern track but there have been 3-5 feet of snow during the past 2 weeks. Base depths are 3+ feet except for 6 feet at Wolf Creek and thus some expert terrain is not likely to open before January. New Mexico like Arizona and Southern California missed most of the storms through mid-December but has received up to 3 feet since then.

Area

Season Snow

Pct. of Normal

Pct. of Area Open

Aspen

83

122%

75%

Gothic Snow Lab

100

102%

N/A

Crested Butte

90

132%

45%

Telluride

95

128%

64%

Purgatory

77

107%

95%

Wolf Creek

126

120%

100%

Taos

63

80%

26%

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 Thanksgiving had some rain but the first half of December was been cold with 5-6 feet of snow in northern Vermont and 3 feet elsewhere. There was rain along with snow last week and more rain is predicted for Christmas, so holiday skiing will not live up to the promise of early December. Percents open: Okemo 62%, Stratton 66%, Hunter 76%, Sunday River 39%, Sugarloaf 30%, Tremblant 70%, Mont Ste. Anne 62%.

Area

Season Snow

Pct. of Normal

Pct. of Area Open

Jay Peak (mid estimate)

112

133%

92%

Stowe

93

97%

69%

Sugarbush

119

161%

64%

Killington

64

96%

50%

Whiteface

73

129%

44%

Cannon Mt.

56

142%

63%

Le Massif

66

98%

75%

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