2007-08 Ski Season Analysis as of June 22, 2008

2007-08 was the best overall North American ski season since 1996-97, roughly equal to that season as the second best in my records dating back to the mid-1970's. Qualitatively 1996-97 was a bit better because the big storms started earlier in the season. But overall 2007-08 was similar to 1981-82 and 1996-97 in that no regions had poor seasons and about half of the regions had excellent seasons of 120% or better snowfall. Several areas from Oregon to Colorado had record high snowfall. These and other comprehensive snow statistics are shown in the 2007-08 Ski Season Summary.

Season Progress Reports

  • November 4, 2007
  • November 16, 2007
  • November 30, 2007
  • December 16, 2007
  • December 21, 2007
  • December 31, 2007
  • January 16, 2008
  • January 29, 2008
  • February 13, 2008
  • February 27, 2008
  • March 14, 2008
  • March 31, 2008
  • April 10, 2008

    There was some snow in the Northwest and some of the Rockies in early to mid-October. However, the next month was exceptionally dry, so most western areas were well behind schedule in opening terrain and building a natural snow base. High snowfall areas like Alta, Kirkwood and Steamboat did not open for Thanksgiving, and most western U.S. areas that were open only had snowmaking runs and less than 10% of terrain. Therefore I will attempt wherever possible to exclude October from season totals in the tables below. Whistler was the conspicuous exception, opening 1,200 acres November 16 after a substantial dump, and 5,000 acres for Thanksgiving. Elsewhere in the West skiing remained limited through the first weekend of December despite some unusual storms.

    Substantial snow during the first half of December was concentrated in the Southwest and the Northeast. Since mid-December Utah, the Northwest and most of the northern Rockies had multiple storms, completely recovered from the slow start and had above average holiday conditions. The Sierra was the only western region still lagging at New Year's.

    The Sierra caught up spectacularly with a huge dump in early January. The first half of January had nearly continuous snowfall in the Northwest, Northern Rockies, Utah and some parts of Colorado. So after the very slow early start to the season most western areas were now well above average. Mid-January snow was concentrated mainly in the Northern Rockies and Utah. Late January snow was widespread, but heaviest in California.

    The first half of February brought huge snows to the U.S. Northwest and Northern Rockies, the border areas of western Canada and onwards to Utah and Colorado. Mid-February had scattered snow but few big dumps. The last weekend of February a significant storm hit the Sierra, then pushed on to Utah and Colorado.

    Early in March there were some refresher storms in the Rockies, but in other regions there was little new snow and some spring conditions emerged. During the second half of March the western storm track reverted to a La Nina pattern, dumping on the Northwest, northern Rockies and then on the northern and central sectors of Utah and Colorado.

    In April the storm track was similar to late March, but stronger in Utah and Colorado. Most regions remained above average, though some by lesser margins than in February. Despite the strong season, most areas closed April 13 due to the unusually early Easter in 2008.

    California:Mammoth opened a very sketchy snowmaking ribbon Nov. 9 and added a couple more runs at Thanksgiving. A few Tahoe areas also opened for Thanksgiving. Late November was good for snowmaking, but no one in the Sierra was more than 10% open Dec. 1 on natural snow of only 2-8 inches. About 2 feet of snow Dec. 6-7 opened about 20% of terrain at areas like Northstar, Sierra-at-Tahoe and Sugar Bowl. The Sierra had 3+ feet of snow Dec. 18-20, and some areas were 70-90% open on 3-4 foot bases. This all changed with the major storm of 5-9 feet Jan. 3-8. The Southwest storms allowed Arizona Snowbowl to open most runs Dec. 13. Southern California and Arizona got 2-3 feet of snow in early January, and the Sierra and Southern California both got 3-6 feet the last week of January. After 3-5 feet of snow early in February it was dry for 2 weeks. The late February storm totalled 2-4 feet but was been followed by 2+ weeks of sunny weather and spring conditions at lower elevations. This storm was mostly rain in Southern California but 20 inches snow in Arizona. There were only two modest March storms, totaling only 1-2 feet, and minimal snow in April. This was the second driest March/April in my records and resulted in the Sierra being the only region below average in 2007-08. Base depths were adequate for a normal spring season, but spring conditions were widespread by mid-March, and only the steepest north exposures retained any winter snow into April. See Current California Ski Conditions for more details on Southern California and Mammoth.

    Area

    Nov

    Dec

    Jan

    Feb

    Mar

    Apr/May

    Total

    Pct. of Normal

    Squaw 8,000

    8

    82

    191

    94

    25

    10

    410

    92%

    Kirkwood

    16

    62.5

    216.5

    124.5

    17.5

    3.5

    440.5

    93%

    Mammoth

    6

    66

    148

    94

    18

    3

    335

    91%

    Southern Cal

    0

    12

    78

    15

    6

    0

    111

    86%

    Arizona Snowbowl

    0

    74

    83

    68

    15

    0

    240

    97%

    Pacific Northwest: Whistler had 4 feet of snow to open on November 16. It was the best bet for early season skiing in North America this year. Some storms reached Washington and Oregon in late November, but starting with a high rain/snow line. The big early December storm started snow but ended with heavy rain and left Whistler with a hardpack base. Mt. Bachelor's Summit received enough snow to open December 10. Skiing was more restricted in Washington due to lower elevation and more rain in early December. Up to 2 feet of snow resurfaced Whistler and opened most terrain there by Dec. 15. In the second half of December there was 5-9 feet new snow, so all Northwest areas were in good shape for the holidays on 6-10 foot bases. The first half of January was continuously stormy, dumping 7-9 feet of snow throughout the region. In the second half of January there was about a foot of snow at Whistler and 2 feet in Washington/Oregon. Early February it dumped again, with 7-10 feet in Washington/Oregon, though only 3+ feet at Whistler. The rest of February was warmer with less than a foot of snow, so all but the highest elevation sectors went to spring conditions. This mostly dry pattern was finally broken in mid-March, with snow over rest of the months ranging from 4 feet at Whistler to 6 feet in Oregon. The April storm track continued to center on Oregon before moving on to the Rockies.

    Area

    Nov

    Dec

    Jan

    Feb

    Mar

    Apr

    Total

    Pct. of Normal

    Alyeska

    142

    83

    74

    128

    150

    59

    636

    124%

    Whistler Alpine

    64

    102

    104

    39

    67

    22

    398

    98%

    Mt. Hood Meadows

    44

    196.5

    178.5

    122

    124

    92

    757

    176%

    Crater Lake

    19.8

    126.5

    158.5

    66

    76.6

    57.1

    504.5

    115%

    Canadian Rockies and Interior B.C.:Snowmaking at Lake Louise opened one trail Nov. 9, but November skiing was very limited. After 2+ feet new snow Sunshine opened some of Goat's Eye Dec. 7. Early snowfall was also above average at Kicking Horse, which opened a week early on Dec. 8. Elsewhere the season started slower. The Okanagan areas had below average snow and Big White was less than half open until after Christmas, now 74%. Red/Fernie received too much rain in early December, but were in great shape by Christmas with 4-6 feet new snow from Northwest storms during the second half of December. The first half of January Northwest storm track dropped 4-5 feet at Red and Fernie and an average of 2 feet elsewhere in western Canada. Later in January Fernie had 3 feet, with 1-2 feet elsewhere as frigid Arctic air settled into much of the region. Most areas had 2-3 feet in early February, but the strong Northwest storm track dumped over 8 feet at Fernie. There were only a few inches new snow in the rest of February, so some surfaces went to hardpack or spring conditions. Delirium Dive at Sunshine finally opened March 1 after much instability most of the winter. Mid and late March Northwest storms of 3-5 feet restored winter conditions to the Kootenay areas near the U.S. border, while areas farther north had 1-2 feet and had more variable conditions. April snow was above average, particularly at late-operating Sunshine.

    Area

    Nov

    Dec

    Jan

    Feb

    Mar

    Apr

    Total

    Pct. of Normal

    Big White

    7.5

    78

    45.3

    46.7

    46.7

    4.5

    228.7

    83%

    Fernie

    17.3

    136.2

    120.9

    78

    78.3

    49

    479.7

    130%

    Sunshine

    33.5

    58.3

    43.7

    44.5

    29.5

    54.3

    263.8

    106%

    U. S. Northern Rockies: Grand Targhee was 75% open by November 30, maintaining its perfect early season track record. Jackson got some of this snow, but locals reported a low mid-December natural snow base below mid-mountain. 5 feet of snow at Jackson later in December opened most terrain for Christmas. Big Sky was 50+% open on its easier lower mountain since Dec 8, increasing to 85% at Christmas. Bridger Bowl got 32 inches in late November, opened most runs on schedule December 7, and had 7 feet over the next month. Schweitzer got 4 feet of snow in early December before it turned to rain. It and Big Mountain got most runs open by Dec. 21 and had 5-6 feet of late December snow from the Northwest storms. These areas had 4-5 feet of snow in the first half of January, with 6 feet in the Tetons and 2-3 feet at Sun Valley, Big Sky and Bridger. Snow continued strong with 4-5 feet at most areas over the rest of January. Sun Valley got 3 feet from the late January storm tracking NE from the Sierra. First half of February snow was 3+ feet at most areas but 6 feet in the Tetons and 7 feet at Big Mountain from the same Northwest storm track hammering nearby Fernie. In the last half of February the Tetons had close to 3 feet and Sun Valley 18 inches but no more than a foot elsewhere in the region. This region had more consistent snow throughout March, with most areas except Sun Valley getting at least 6 feet, and 8+ feet in the Tetons. There have been some spring conditions in sunny exposures, but less than on the West Coast or western Canada. Bridger had 6+ feet in April, with other areas getting no more than a foot. Overall this season has rivalled 2005-06 as the best of the past decade for the region.

    Area

    Nov

    Dec

    Jan

    Feb

    Mar

    Apr

    Total

    Pct. of Normal

    Bridger Bowl

    56.5

    102.1

    75

    47.2

    72.2

    80

    433

    153%

    Jackson Hole

    36

    96

    120

    96

    106

    26

    480

    131%

    Sun Valley

    30

    48

    76.5

    45

    27.5

    5

    232

    124%

    Utah: The Cottonwood Canyons had up to 4 feet of snow in mid-October, bringing out substantial numbers of backcountry skiers Oct. 21. But November was the driest since 1976, exceeding that drought year only in the final week. 1+ foot of snow at the start of December and up to 3 feet Dec. 6-8 got Utah's season off the ground. At mid-December only Alta approached full operation. Then the Cottonwood areas got another 3 feet and most runs there were open by Dec. 21. Additional storms finally opened most runs at Snowbasin and the Park City areas by Christmas. Total December snowfall of 8 feet at Park City and 12 feet in the Cottonwood Canyons made the November drought a distant memory. The bounty continued with 6-7 feet of snow in the first half of January and 3-4 feet the rest of the month. With 6-9 feet in the first half of February Utah's season moved far above average. After a dry week there was 2-4 feet in late February. Four March storms have totalled 6-7 feet in the Cottonwood Canyons, and about half as much elsewhere, with spring conditions emerging only below about 8,500 feet during most of the month. The Cottonwoods had continued strong snow in April.

    Area

    Nov

    Dec

    Jan

    Feb

    Mar

    Apr

    Total

    Pct. of Normal

    Alta

    21.5

    147

    178.5

    116

    93

    93

    649

    124%

    Snowbasin

    10

    112

    129

    81

    38

    25

    395

    124%

    Northern and Central Colorado: Loveland received 22 inches snow in October and had 105 acres open by Nov. 4. November snowfall was less than half normal throughout the region and record low along the Continental Divide. But 4-5 feet of denser than normal snow fell during the first half of December. Therefore, normal percentages of terrain were open for the holidays even though many snow totals were still below average. Steamboat's snow was lagging past mid-December, but not after 6 feet new during the holidays. By year end snow totals were noticeably below average only at the Continental Divide, where A-Basin was less than half open until mid-January. 1-2 feet of snow fell in early January. Mid-January storms dumped 7.5 feet at Steamboat, 4-5 feet at Vail, Beaver Creek and Winter Park and average 2 feet elsewhere, with slightly less along the still lagging Continental Divide. Late January snow was a typical 1 to 1.5 feet through out the region. The first half or February was outstanding, with 3-5 feet at most areas and 7+ at Steamboat. After a brief slowdown, there was 1-2 feet in late February. March was average and consistent, with 4-6 feet new snow in most areas, so spring conditions have emerged only late in the month on sunny exposures. April was strong, with 4-5 feet of snow throughout the region, so a couple of areas extended a week to April 20, with A-Basin expected to go to early June.

    Area

    Nov

    Dec

    Jan

    Feb

    Mar

    Apr

    Total

    Pct. of Normal

    Steamboat

    23

    126

    129

    104

    79

    48

    509

    139%

    Vail

    16

    97

    97

    92

    66

    61

    429

    120%

    Loveland

    8

    71

    55

    78

    47

    54

    313

    88%

    Southern and Western Colorado: The Rocky Mountain Biological Laboratory, located at Gothic 9,400 feet between Crested Butte and Aspen, had 34 inches of October snow, but a 30+ year record low of 14 inches in November. Telluride did not open for Thanksgiving, and even Wolf Creek was less than 10% open. But this region had an outstanding first half of December, with 5-6 feet of high density snow at most areas, and 13 feet at Wolf Creek. Much more terrain was open than normal for the holidays on 4-5 foot bases, and even most of Crested Butte's North Face was open, rare by Christmas. Taos opened Dec. 14 with far more than average base depths and open runs and was 90+% open by Christmas. Second half December snow ranged from 3+ feet at Aspen, which roughly tied 1983 for its snowiest December, to 2 feet in southern Colorado. Nearly all western Colorado areas got 4-5 feet during the first half of January and should be in great shape for the rest of the season with historically excellent snow preservation. The late January California storms continued into this region with an average of 2 feet but 4 feet at Wolf Creek. The pace picked up again in early February with 4 feet at most areas and 8 feet at Wolf Creek. During the mid-February lull over most of the West these areas got another 2 feet of new snow, plus 1-2 feet late in the month. In March Crested Butte and Aspen have had over a foot of snow per week, but it was much drier farther south, no more than a foot in total during the second half of March. Aspen and Crested Butte continued their excellent seasons with 3-4 feet in April, so Aspen Highlands was reopened for the last 2 weekends of the month.

    Area

    Nov

    Dec

    Jan

    Feb

    Mar

    Apr

    Total

    Pct. of Normal

    Gothic

    14

    115.5

    108.5

    103

    58.5

    54

    453.5

    134%

    Crested Butte

    4

    129

    117

    86

    48

    38

    422

    174%

    Taos

    12

    104

    54

    64

    40

    36

    310

    118%

    Northeast: Sunday River made enough snow for a "marketing opening" on Halloween. A few areas opened for the weekend of Nov. 10-11, and many more for the next weekend, assisted by over a foot of new snow at many areas. For Thanksgiving trail counts increased from the 10% to 20% range, though surfaces were less than ideal due to midweek rain. November had overall average conditions by historical standards though much better than the past few years. Upper New England and Quebec had 5-8 feet of snow the first 3 weeks of December with outstanding conditions. Unfortunately surfaces were degraded by rain just before Christmas, though with the ample base depths there was only a moderate drop in open trails. 2 feet of snow over the holiday period restored excellent conditions for New Year's week. The second week of January brought a major thaw with some rain, so trail counts dropped at many areas. During the rest of January there was 2+ feet of snow in Northern Vermont areas, again restoring power/packed powder conditions. Farther south there was more hardpack with just a few inches new natural snow. February thaws were followed by refresher snowstorms, so most areas remained close to full operation though with variable surfaces. End of February storms of 2+ feet produced a powdery first weekend of March. For 2+ weeks there was a mix of rain and snow in New England, degrading surfaces but only slightly reducing trail counts. Farther north in Quebec the March storms were nearly all snow and conditions were consistently outstanding. For Easter weekend the cold finally pushed south far enough to dump 2-3 feet in northern Vermont through Maine, with another foot over the following week. April was mostly dry with good corn snow on the deeper than normal base. Several areas were open all April weekends, and a few into May. 2007-08 was the second best season to 2000-01 in the East of the past decade.

    Area

    Oct/Nov

    Dec

    Jan

    Feb

    Mar

    Apr

    Total

    Pct. of Normal

    Jay

    42.5

    125

    63.5

    79.5

    57.5

    11

    379

    113%

    Killington

    14

    92.5

    35.5

    78

    61

    1

    282

    113%

    Sugarloaf

    14

    71

    31

    54

    35

    7

    212

    121%

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