2016-17 California Detail

Updated March 16, 2017

Mammoth had up to 3 feet of snow in mid-October over 10,000 feet but mostly rain below that. The scheduled Nov. 10 opening was sketchy on Broadway but some of the top and face of 3 were open. There was 1-2 feet of late November snow plus Chair 2 opened for Thanksgiving on manmade. Chairs 4, 5 and 10 opened Dec. 1. 12 inches fell in early December at Main Lodge and at least twice that up high. Canyon/Eagle opened Dec. 14 on mostly manmade but the Dec. 15-16 storm dumped 3-4 feet, resulting in full operation Dec. 18. Another 17 inches fell Dec. 23-24. Mammoth got 141 inches from January 3-12 despite rain rising to 10,000 feet on January 8. A further 104 inches fell from Jan. 19-24. The 245 inch total for the month rivals January 1969 as the snowiest in the history of the ski area. First half of February snow totaled 83 inches and second half of February 85 inches. With base depths of 16-29 feet at the end of February, a July close is assured this season, plus Canyon/Eagle will be open to April 23. After a foot of snow during the first week of March, the widespread western warmup bought spring conditions to all but the upper north facing steeps.

Southern California's snowmaking had a late start so the limited openings were just after Thanksgiving with about 5 inches natural snow. Early December was fairly good for snowmaking but the December 15 storm was mostly rain, ending with 4 inches snow. It rained again all day on Dec. 21. The Dec. 23 storm was all snow of 1+ foot, and with the ensuing cold weather for snowmaking, considerably more terrain opened within a few days. There was rain and a few inches of snow at year-end. It rained four days during early January before finally snowing 2 feet January 12-13. Then from January 19-24 the SoCal areas got 5-6 feet of snow, resulting in the weekend of Jan. 28-29 being the first with full operation of terrain at all SoCal ski areas since 2011. Unfortunately it rained again Feb. 3, 6, 7 and 10 with only one inch of snow, seriously degrading ungroomed terrain. This season has exceeded 1986 and 1997 for the most rain days instead of snow in the SoCal ski areas. About 2 feet of snow fell Feb. 17-18, but again there was some rain a couple of days later. Since then it's been spring mode with warm temperatures.

I consider the local areas worth visiting according to the following criteria (2015-16 summary):

Snow Summit: The Wall, Log Chute, Chair 10 and lower Westridge open. Miracle Mile and Summit Run opened first, with upper Westridge opening Dec. 1. Log Chute and chair 7 opened by Dec. 7. Chair 10 opened Dec. 26 and the Wall Dec. 27. 70+ open until 97% after the January 12-13 storm. 100% since Jan. 24.

Bear Mt: Silver Mt. and/or Bear Peak open. The Bear Express and some park features have been open since Nov. 26. Silver opened in early December. Bear Peak opened Dec. 27. 90+% open since New Year's. 100% since Jan. 24.

Snow Valley: Slide Peak open. 20% open Dec. 1, 40% open in early January, 65% open for MLK. 100% open from Jan. 28 and still 97% open March 16.

Mountain High: East as well as West open. West opened a few lower runs Nov. 26 and Chisholm by Dec. 1. West was about 1/4 open until the Dec. 23 storm. West was fully open for a couple of days but soon fell back to 1/4 open. The January 12-13 storm opened all of West and about 1/3 of East. 100% open East and West Jan. 25. In early February East's main lift needed repair, and by the time it was done the rain had degraded the snow so East could not reopen. West fell back to 58% open in mid-February. East was briefly open again over President's weekend but closed again. West was 71% open at the end of February but is now only 35% open.

Mt. Baldy and Mt. Waterman: A natural snow base of at least 4 feet. The Dec. 23 storm was the first meaningful natural snow but most of that was degraded by rain over the next 2+ weeks. On Dec. 26 Baldy opened its beginner area and a couple of groomers on Thunder. Perhaps half of Baldy was open after the January 12-13 storm but on a thin base. Full operation by Jan. 28. Waterman opened weekends starting Jan. 28. Baldy and Waterman remained 80+% well covered through February with the base on north slopes augmented by the Feb. 17-18 storm. On cooler days much terrain may be closed for icy conditions. March 10-12 was Waterman's last weekend unless there is more snow. Baldy is still open with the main runs on Thunder.

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