How the Ski Seasons Are Rated
Each season which I analyzed is divided into six groups. Areas more than one standard deviation above or below their season or winter average are classified as High or Low. The remaining areas are classified as Above Average or Below Average. I would list an area as Record High or Record Low if it was the highest or lowest season for which I have at least 10 years of data. Within each classification, areas are listed in the order of the number of years of complete seasons of data, followed by the areas with only December to March readings, these in order of number of years of complete winters of data. 1995-96 is shown below for 70 areas. At least 67 areas reported for each season from 1983-84 through 1997-98.
1995-96 Ski Season Summary
1995-96 was a season of extremes. Three areas in central Colorado had record high snowfalls, yet Alaska and Arizona / New Mexico suffered close to record drought years.
California had record warm temperatures in the early season with zero snow in November. The one big December storm was half rain at Lake Tahoe, though higher altitude Mammoth was in good shape for Christmas. After another dry spell, the Sierra was hammered with well over 100 inches of snow in the second half of January. February was a replay: dry or rain first half, big dumps second half. After a normal March and April, the Sierra season overall had slightly above average snow but excessive rain at the lower altitudes. Southern California (more rain than snow) and Arizona (extreme drought) had dismal ski seasons.
The Pacific Northwest was plagued by rain in November, December and February. Only Mt. Bachelor (high altitude) and Mt. Baker (too much snow to get completely washed out) were adequate at Christmas. Fortunately, the Northwest did get the same big dumps as the Sierra in late January. Overall season snowfall was below average except at the very highest elevations.
The Canadian Rockies and Interior B. C. received the early season storm track which bypassed much of the American West. The Okanagan and Banff areas had excellent early snow and roughly average snowfall from January onwards. The Kootenay areas had the Pacific Northwest weather pattern, resulting in a high snow season for high altitude Whitewater, but below average snow with too much rain at the other areas.
The U. S. Northern Rockies had enough early snow to be in decent shape by Christmas. The January and February storms were heavy in Idaho and Wyoming but only average in Montana.
Utah had below average snow and warm weather in the early season, so only Alta and Brighton (highest base elevations) were adequate by Christmas. Like California, the Wasatch had massive dumps in the second half of January and February and finished the season above average overall.
Southern and Western Colorado had slightly below average early snowfall, and, as is normal, most areas reached full operation in mid-January. Aspen, Crested Butte and Telluride were clobbered by the January storms and had excellent seasons thereafter. Purgatory and Wolf Creek were, like Brian Head in Utah, far enough south to be negatively affected by the Southwestern drought. Luck finally ran out for Taos, New Mexico, which was one of the few western areas to have high snowfall in 1992 and 1994.
Northern and Central Colorado was the prime region for snow this year. The early season Canadian storm track finally curved south and brought all ski areas in this region to full operation by mid December. The January storms also hit with full force, and Steamboat's 196 inches set a single month record for the state. March, historically the highest snow month, was the only month below average in 1996.
The Northeast had its overall highest snowfall in 18 years, with December, February and April being unusually snowy, and Sugarloaf in Maine breaking its 1969 record of 347 inches. The famous January storms brought big snow to the Appalachians and the East Coast cities but only reached the southern parts of New England.
|1995-1996 SKI SEASON SNOWFALL SUMMARY|
|RECORD HIGH (10 Years Minimum)||RECORD HIGH (10 Years Minimum)|
|Sugarloaf, Maine 3,695||389|
|Loveland, Colo. 11,200||522|
|Arapahoe Basin, Colo. 10,820||463|
|Copper Mtn, Colo. 11,000||385|
|Snowshoe, W. V. 4,848||240|
|Stowe, Vt. 3,950||312||Steamboat, Colo. 9,200||331||Dec.-Mar.|
|Sugarbush, Vt. 3,000||364||Telluride, Colo. 11,170||219||Dec.-Mar.|
|Lake Louise, Alb. 6,700||176||Heavenly Valley, Calif. 8,400||261||Dec.-Mar.|
|Vail, Colo. 11,250||461||Whitewater, B. C. 5,500||324||Dec.-Mar.|
|Breckenridge, Colo. 11,100||355||Northstar, Calif. 7,800||348||Dec.-Mar.|
|Killington, Vt. 4,142||307|
|Berthoud Pass, Colo. 11,315||426|
|Mary Jane at Winter Park, Colo. 10,800||440|
|Grand Targhee, Wyo. 8,000||523|
|Jay Peak, Vt. 3,000||389|
|Crested Butte, Colo. 10,150||329|
|ABOVE AVERAGE||ABOVE AVERAGE|
|Mt. Rainier Paradise, Wash. 5,420||636||Jackson Hole, Wyo. 8,250||311||Dec.-Mar.|
|Mt. Washington, N. H. 6,262||358||Whiteface (Lake Placid), N. Y. 3,660||113||Dec.-Mar.|
|Mammoth Mtn, Calif. 9,600 or 8,900||426||Monarch, Colo.||241||Dec.-Mar.|
|Alta, Utah 8,650||544||Squaw Valley, Calif. 6,200||297||Dec.-Mar.|
|Brighton, Utah 8,740||437||Sun Valley, Idaho 8,800||171||Dec.-Mar.|
|Cannon Mt., N. H. 1,800||176||Stratton, Vt. 3,875||178||Dec.-Mar.|
|Kirkwood (Carson Pass), Calif. 8,526||534||Smuggler's Notch, Vt. 1,600||216||Dec.-Mar.|
|Snowbird, Utah 10,000||503||Loon, N. H. 2,000||138||Dec.-Mar.|
|Gothic, Colo. 9,400||383||Mt. Snow, Vt. 3,600||158||Dec.-Mar.|
|Sunshine Village, Alb. 7,028||296||Schweitzer, Idaho 4,700||215||Dec.-Mar.|
|Mt. Norquay, Alb. 5,350||132|
|Alpine Meadows, Calif. 7,000||421|
|Snow Basin, Utah 7,700||363|
|Aspen Highlands, Colo. 11,100||288|
|Beaver Creek, Colo. 11,200||368|
|Waterville Valley, N. H. 3,000||204|
|Okemo, Vt. 3,300||197|
|BELOW AVERAGE||BELOW AVERAGE|
|Central Sierra Snow Lab - Boreal, Cal. 7,200||329||Bridger Bowl, Mont. 7,100||180||Dec.-Mar.|
|Mt. Fidelity (Selkirks), B. C. 6,150||442||Whistler Roundhouse, B. C. 6,000||276||Dec.-Mar.|
|Mt. Bachelor, Ore. 6,350||342||Wolf Creek, Colo. 10,642||235||Dec.-Mar.|
|Silver Star, B. C. 5,200||209||Snoqualmie Pass, Wash. 3,000||250||Dec.-Mar.|
|Big White, B. C. 6,200||244||Purgatory, Colo. 10,000||177||Dec.-Mar.|
|Red Mt. Pass, Colo. 11,090||257||Mt. Baker, Wash. 4,300||350||Dec.-Mar.|
|Park City 1, Utah 7,140||143|
|Tod Mt. (Sun Peaks), B. C. 6,100||198|
|Blackcomb, B. C. 5,002||315|
|Big Sky, Mont. 8,920||242|
|Whistler Base, B. C. 2,200||115||Arizona Snowbowl 2, Ariz. 10,800||121||Dec.-Mar.|
|Taos, N. Mex. 11,200||196||Arizona Snowbowl 1, Ariz. 9,500||69||Dec.-Mar.|
|Southern California Composite 7,000 - 8,000||77|
|Stevens Pass, Wash. 4,061||303|
|Brian Head, Utah 9,770||237|
|Mt. Hood Meadows, Ore. 5,400||290|
|RECORD LOW (10 Years Minimum)||RECORD LOW (10 Years Minimum)|
|Alyeska, Alaska 1,400||305|