2016-17 Ski Season Progress Report as of December 31, 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 brought most resorts above average in season snowfall. The regions still lagging normal holiday operation were Tahoe low elevation, Montana east of the Continental Divide and the far Southwest, all of which improved with significant snow during the holiday week.

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, leaving base depths of at least 5 feet. Other areas had lots of rain and were in limited operation going into the holidays with base depths under 3 feet. It snowed 1.5 feet just before Christmas, which improved surfaces but some terrain remains closed 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

98

71%

37%

Alpine Meadows

81

74%

57%

Mt. Rose

123

118%

100%

Northstar (mid-estimate)

68

73%

57%

Heavenly

78

67%

70%

Kirkwood

95

67%

100%

Mammoth

90.5

84%

100%

Southern Cal

27

102%

0-79%


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 cool temperatures and another 4 feet of snow during the second half of December, base depths average 6-8 feet during an excellent holiday season.

Area

Season Snow

Pct. of Normal

Pct. of Area Open

Whistler

196

122%

100%

Crystal Mt.

150

104%

100%

Stevens Pass

178

104%

100%

Mt. Hood

199

124%

100%

Mt. Bachelor

174

124%

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 3-5 feet during the second half, base depths are 4-6 feet. Silver Star is 100% open and Sun Peaks is 98% open.

Area

Season Snow

Pct. of Normal

Pct. of Area Open

Big White

111

101%

83%

Lake Louise

94

145%

86%

Sunshine

130

142%

91%

Revelstoke

185

133%

100%

Kicking Horse

115

116%

84%

Whitewater

186

133%

100%

Red Mt.

83

85%

100%

Fernie

150

112%

100%

Castle Mt.

147

155%

93%

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 10 feet of snow in December and are having a good holiday season with base depths of 6+ feet. The interior Northwest areas in Idaho and western Montana had 6-7 feet of December snow and have 4+ foot bases. Big Sky was farther behind but improved during Christmas week to 82% open.

Area

Season Snow

Pct. of Normal

Pct. of Area Open

Grand Targhee

166

103%

100%

Jackson Hole (mid)

154

116%

100%

Whitefish

144

125%

100%

Bridger

72

72%

100%

Schweitzer

91

92%

100%

Sun Valley

79

115%

100%

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. It dumped 7 feet of snow in most of the Wasatch in December. Cottonwood Canyon base depths are 5-6 feet and Park City base depths are 3+ feet. Brian Head in the far south lagged until nearly Christmas but got 5 feet of snow in late December.

Area

Season Snow

Pct. of Normal

Pct. of Area Open

Alta

152

86%

100%

Snowbird

156

99%

92%

Brighton/Solitude

158

95%

97%

Park City (mid estimate)

89

93%

89%

Snowbasin

126

122%

100%

Brian Head

112

113%

96%

Northern and Central Colorado:

A-Basin opened a run on snowmaking October 21, was less than 10% open for the next 6 weeks but was 87% open by Chrstmas 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 5-7 feet of December snow overcame the early deficit by Christmas. Base depths are 3-4 feet so open terrain is at least average for the holidays at most areas.

Area

Season Snow

Pct. of Normal

Pct. of Area Open

Beaver Creek

99

89%

98%

Breckenridge

112

107%

87%

Copper Mt.

99

104%

68%

Keystone

109

141%

97%

Loveland

102

94%

53%

Steamboat

128

102%

99%

Vail

86

71%

99%

Winter Park

122

103%

83%

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 were 4-7 feet of snow during the rest of December. Base depths are 3+ feet except for 6 feet at Wolf Creek and thus some expert terrain is not yet open. New Mexico and Arizona missed most of the storms through mid-December but have received 4 feet since then.

Area

Season Snow

Pct. of Normal

Pct. of Area Open

Aspen

100

127%

95%

Gothic Snow Lab

104

92%

N/A

Crested Butte

107

136%

49%

Telluride

107

125%

88%

Purgatory

90

108%

99%

Wolf Creek

149

123%

100%

Taos

76

86%

79%

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 have been alternating rain and snow events during the second half of December, with rain at Christmas but a recent 2-3 foot storm in northern New England setting up an excellent New Year's weekend. But rain is predicted again next week. Percents open: Okemo 68%, Stratton 77%, Hunter 79%, Sunday River 84%, Sugarloaf 80%, Tremblant 78%, Mont Ste. Anne 87%.

Area

Season Snow

Pct. of Normal

Pct. of Area Open

Jay Peak (mid estimate)

149

145%

100%

Stowe

111

99%

95%

Sugarbush

143

162%

90%

Killington

72

90%

65%

Whiteface

85

129%

48%

Cannon Mt.

73

150%

89%

Le Massif

88

107%

94%

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