2016-17 Ski Season Progress Report as of April 9, 2017

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.

The big story in the first half of January was the series of atmospheric rivers hammering California. Adjacent regions received abundant snow too. A similar AR storm hit Jan. 19-24, hitting California, Utah and the Southwest the hardest. The warm Pacific storms continued in early February, hitting the West Coast again but this time tracking farther north. Rain to 8,000 feet extended inland to Utah and Idaho but most areas got ample snow after the rain. Mid-February temperatures were warm, and some Northwest storms had high snow levels. Late February and early March snowfall continued strong in most western regions with good powder and winter conditions. During the middle two weeks of March it was dry and very warm in most of the western U.S., with widespread spring conditions emerging on all but the highest and steepest north facing terrain. Only the Northwest and western Canada had some storms, but some of it was rain at low elevations. Moderate snows were more widespread in the West in late March but were still strongest in the Northwest and western Canada. An early April storm strack was strongest in California, Utah and Colorado. Spring conditions prevail at most areas between storms.

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 remained closed at lower elevations. During the first week of January it snowed 4-7 feet. Over the weekend of January 7-8 the rain/snow line rose to 10,000 feet but it snowed an additional 6-10 feet over the next 4 days. The Jan. 19-24 storm dumped an additional 7-9 feet, resulting in a record snowfall month for most Sierra areas. The week of storms ending February 10 included a day of rain to 9,000 feet but also snowed 5-8 feet. Second half of February snowfall was another 6-8 feet, so base depths reached 10-20 feet at most Tahoe areas and 16-29 feet at Mammoth. During the first week of March it snowed a foot at Mammoth and averaged 3 feet at Tahoe areas. the next two weeks were warm with spring conditions nearly everywhere except the upper third of Mammoth. Melt/freezing was severe enough to close some terrain temporarily. Some small storms totalled about two feet of snow in late March. A stronger storm April 6-8 dropped 2+ feet at Tahoe and 3+ feet at Mammoth. Mammoth will run to July 4 and some Tahoe areas will run at least weekends through Memorial Day. 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

682

165%

85%

Alpine Meadows

579

172%

90%

Mt. Rose

707

228%

100%

Northstar (mid-estimate)

536

192%

89%

Heavenly

638

178%

96%

Kirkwood

665

153%

100%

Mammoth

583

182%

100%

Southern Cal

143

122%

0-30%


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 averaged 6-8 feet during an excellent holiday season. The first half of January was cool to preserve the snow well as the heaviest storms tracked south. Snowfall ranged from one foot at Whistler to 2 feet in Washington and 4-6 feet in Oregon. During the third week of January it rained fairly high in Washington and Oregon but snowed 1+ foot later. Whistler got 3+ feet on its upper half. Most of the region got 4-5 feet of snow during the first half of February. A mid-February storm rained to 7,000 feet but later February snow ranged from 2 feet at Whistler to 6 feet in Oregon. First half of March snowfall averaged nearly 6 feet, though there was some rain below 5,000 feet during the second week of March. There were 3-4 feet of of snow in the second half of March. Early April snowfall was 2 feet at Whistler and Bachelor and about a foot elsewhere. Later spring skiing shold be excellent on the above average snowpack, with Bachelor in full operation to April 30 and partial operation to Memorial Day.

Area

Season Snow

Pct. of Normal

Pct. of Area Open

Whistler

474

121%

100%

Crystal Mt.

407

108%

98%

Stevens Pass

434

97%

100%

Mt. Hood

510

122%

100%

Mt. Bachelor

512

146%

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, holiday base depths were 4-6 feet. Silver Star and Sun Peaks are 100% open since Christmas. The first half of January was cold with only about a foot of new snow. About 1.5 feet fell in the second half of January as the storm track continued to the south. Conditions improved during the first half of February with 2-4 feet of snow. After mid-February rain to over 5,000 feet, later February snowfall was 3-4 feet west of the Selkirks and 1-2 feet farther east. This was the best region in the first half of March, with 3-6 feet of new snow, and majority winter conditions prevailing at most areas. Snowfall ranged from 2-4 feet during the second half of March and 1+ foot in early April.

Area

Season Snow

Pct. of Normal

Pct. of Area Open

Big White

337

132%

100%

Lake Louise

206

122%

95%

Sunshine

296

132%

98%

Revelstoke

390

120%

90%

Kicking Horse

306

130%

88%

Whitewater

448

123%

Closed April 2

Fernie

406

117%

100%

Castle Mt.

385

156%

100%

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 had 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 to attain 4+ foot bases. Big Sky was farther behind but improved during Christmas week to 83% open. Sun Valley and the Tetons got 4 feet of snow in the first half of January and other areas about 2 feet. Most areas got about 2 feet in the second half of January. First half of February storms hit Sun Valley and the Tetons with 5-6 feet and other areas with 2-4 feet. Jackson Hole was closed for a week due to downed power lines. 4-5 feet fell during the second half of February throughout the region. 1-3 feet fell in the first half of March, with the higher amounts near the Canadian border. The Tetons got 3 feet too, but also had warm weather with some rain at Jackson's base resulting in variable conditions. Second half of March snowfall was 1-2 feet with mostly spring conditions prevailing. In early April it snowed 1+ foot in the Tetons but just a few inches elsewhere.

Area

Season Snow

Pct. of Normal

Pct. of Area Open

Grand Targhee

409

94%

94%

Jackson Hole (mid)

403

115%

81%

Whitefish

407

135%

87%

Schweitzer

321

124%

100%

Brundage

281

101%

98%

Sun Valley

324

177%

93%

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 holiday base depths were 5-6 feet and Park City base depths were 3+ feet. Brian Head in the far south lagged until nearly Christmas but got 5 feet of snow in late December. The California storms tracked into the Wasatch, dumping 6 feet during the first half of January and 4-7 feet during the second half. Early February snow averaged 2 feet. The big dumps resumed during the second half of February, ranging from 5 feet in Park City to 7+ feet in the Cottonwood areas. Utah got 1.5 feet of snow during the first week of March followed by two extremely warm weeks with spring conditions. Brian Head and the Cottonwood areas got 3+ feet of snow in late March and 2 feet in early April, with about half as much elsewhere. Snowbird will be close to full operation to April 23, with upper lifts running daily to May 14 and a few weekends after that.

Area

Season Snow

Pct. of Normal

Pct. of Area Open

Alta

521

108%

100%

Snowbird

511

115%

100%

Brighton/Solitude

508

113%

100%

Park City (mid estimate)

336

124%

83%

Snowbasin

431

152%

100%

Brian Head

313

109%

100%

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 Christmas 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 were 3-4 feet so open terrain was at least average for the holidays at most areas. The California storms continued into Colorado, averaging 5 feet in this region during the first half of January. About two feet fell in the second half of January and three feet scattered through February. Snowfall for all of March averaged only 2 feet, and spring conditions were more prevalent than usual for March in the warm weather. Early April snowfall averaged 1.5 feet so a nomal spring season is likely.

Area

Season Snow

Pct. of Normal

Pct. of Area Open

Beaver Creek

265

89%

74%

Breckenridge

285

88%

100%

Copper Mt.

249

98%

87%

Keystone

266

128%

98%

Loveland

304

101%

92%

Steamboat

288

85%

70%

Vail

215

66%

86%

Winter Park

296

93%

92%

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. Holiday base depths were 3+ feet except for 6 feet at Wolf Creek and thus some expert terrain was not yet open. New Mexico and Arizona missed most of the storms through mid-December but received 4 feet during the second half. The California storms during the first half of January brought 8 feet of snow to Wolf Creek and Crested Butte (thus opening the North Face), 6+ feet to Aspen and 5 feet elsewhere. Second half of January snowfall ranged from 1 foot at Aspen to 4 feet at the most southern areas. Kachina Peak at Taos opened late in January. First half of February snowfall ranged from 2+ feet at Aspen and Crested Butte to 1 foot at the southern areas. Second half of February snowfall was 3 feet at Wolf Creek and about 2 feet elsewhere. During the first half of March only Aspen/Snowmass received more than a foot of snow, and spring conditions were more prevalent than usual for mid-March in the warm weather. In late March Taos and Telluride got 3 feet of snow and other areas about half as much. Areas open in early April got about 1.5 feet of snow.

Area

Season Snow

Pct. of Normal

Pct. of Area Open

Aspen

287

126%

88%

Gothic Snow Lab

337

103%

N/A

Crested Butte

324

142%

85%

Purgatory

263

109%

94%

Wolf Creek

429

122%

Closed April 2

Taos

218

92%

85%

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 cold with 5-6 feet of snow in northern Vermont and 3 feet elsewhere. There were alternating rain and snow events during the second half of December, with rain at Christmas but a 2-3 foot storm in northern New England setting up an excellent New Year's weekend. Early January saw both rain and snow but had a rain/freeze event reducing trail counts just before MLK weekend. Conditions turned around during the second half of January with 3-4 feet in northern New England and 2 feet elsewhere. The first half of February was excellent with 2+ feet in Quebec and 4 feet in most of the US Northeast ski areas. After 1-2 feet of mid-month snow, there was a major warm spell starting President's weekend. Conditions deteriorated fast, highlighted by a severe rain/freeze in early March. Then Winter Storm Stella dumped 3-6 feet in New England March 12-16, resulting in the best conditions of the season. Late March/early April skiing remained mostly good with new snow every week totalling 3+ feet. Percents open: Okemo 93%, Stratton 67%, Hunter 50%, Sunday River 72%, Sugarloaf 67%, Tremblant 77%, Mont Ste. Anne 100%.

Area

Season Snow

Pct. of Normal

Pct. of Area Open

Jay Peak (mid estimate)

441

142%

100%

Stowe

354

123%

87%

Sugarbush

341

135%

65%

Killington

230.5

101%

89%

Whiteface

265

157%

79%

Cannon Mt.

241

159%

89%

Le Massif

222

103%

98%

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