The following major weather patterns affected the 2015-16 ski season.
Most of November: Snowfall was heaviest in western Canada. Other regions had smaller storms, which included some rain at lower elevations along the West Coast.
End of November to mid-December: The Northwest had several intense storms totalling 6-8 feet, with lesser amountns spreading south into California. These storms split as they moved inland with the northern track into Idaho and Canada and the southern track moving SE into Arizona, New Mexico and southern Colorado. Utah and much of Wyoming and Montana missed most of these storms.
Second half of December: The entire West was hammered with snow during the week before Christmas, with smaller storms ensuing during the holiday period.
First half of January: The first week of January was the only case all season of a storm on the touted El Nino track through SoCal, Arizona and New Mexico. The Sierra and Utah got the most snow, but all regions got at least 1.5 feet.
Mid-January to beginning of February: Snowfall was above average in most regions with the most in the Tetons and northern Utah and Colorado. The Northwest had some rain but also lots of snow to maintain good conditions most of the time.
The rest of February: The final January storm hit Colorado in early February, but after that most of the western US had less than half normal snowfall the rest of the month. Only Washington State and western Canada were closer to average. February was also unusually warm so spring conditions developed at many areas.
First half of March: Major storms totalling 5-9 feet hit the west coast, with about 1/3 of that reaching most inland regions. The far Southwest remined bone dry as in most of February.
The rest of March: Northern Utah and Colorado had above average snowfall while other western regions were below average with spring conditions emerging at most areas. The 7 week Southwest drought lasted until 1-2 feet fell at the very end of March.
First half of April: Weather was abnormally warm and dry, with just a few modest snowfalls in Colorado. All open areas had nearly all spring conditions.
Rest of April/May: Few areas were open, but California, Utah and especially Colorado had above average snow and cooler than normal temperatures. Record heat and snowmelt continued in the Northwest, Northern Rockies and western Canada.
2015-16 was the third strongest El Nino on record. It did bring several stretches of high temperatures but the overall snowfall record did not display the pattern of past strong El Nino seasons. The regions that were supposed to be below average (Northwest, northern Rockies of both US and Canada) had the most snow relative to average in North America. And it would have been far above average if not for a super warm and dry April, after most of these areas had closed due to remote location and lack of customers. Which ski area had the MOST snow relative to average in 2015-16? That would be Big White at 133%, and the rest of western Canada's Okanagan region was not far behind. Meanwhile Southern California and Arizona, historically most favored by El Nino, came in at 59% and 78%. For more detail on snow incidence by month and region, see 2015-16 Ski Season Analysis. Also see El Nino 2015-16: A Non-Event for North American Skiing?
|2015-16 SKI SEASON SNOWFALL SUMMARY|
|RECORD HIGH (10 Years Minimum)||6+ Powder||RECORD HIGH (10 Years Minimum)||6+ Powder|
|Alyeska, Alaska 2,750||826||37%||Red Mt. 2, B. C. 6,650||263||Dec.-Mar||15%|
|Big White, B. C. 6,200||368||17%|
|Keystone, Colo. 11,641||295||11%|
|Sun Peaks, B. C. 6,100||244||10%|
|ABOVE AVERAGE||ABOVE AVERAGE|
|Mt. Rainier Paradise, Wash. 5,420||699||34%||Telluride, Colo. 11,170||221||Dec.-Mar||12%|
|Snoqualmie Pass, Wash. 3,000||402||22%||Revelstoke, B.C. 6,429||260||Dec.-Mar||14%|
|Crater Lake (Mt. Bailey), Ore. 6,800||452||22%||Sierra at Tahoe, Calif. 7,746||327||Dec.-Mar||18%|
|Mammoth Mtn, Calif. 9,600 or 8,900||358||15%|
|Lake Louise, Alb. 6,700||169||5%|
|Mt. Bachelor, Ore. 6,350||408||20%|
|Berthoud Pass, Colo. 11,315||323||11%|
|Mary Jane at Winter Park, Colo. 10,800||360||13%|
|Park City 2, Utah 9,300||301||13%|
|Whistler Roundhouse, B. C. 6,000||486||23%|
|Steamboat, Colo. 9,200||408||17%|
|Loveland, Colo. 11,200||350||12%|
|Heavenly Valley, Calif. 8,400||289||12%|
|Brundage, Idaho 6,000||302||14%|
|Mt. Hood Meadows, Ore. 5,400||479||24%|
|Red Mt. Pass, Colo. 11,090||349||14%|
|Breckenridge 2, Colo. 12,000||373||14%|
|Sun Valley, Idaho 8,800||213||10%|
|Squaw Valley, Calif. 8,000||491||23%|
|Wolf Creek, Colo. 10,642||423||15%|
|Northstar, Calif. 7,800||347||17%|
|Heavenly Valley, Calif. 10,000||390||16%|
|Aspen Highlands, Colo. 11,100||254||10%|
|Beaver Creek, Colo. 11,200||341||13%|
|Crystal Mtn 2, Wash. 6,100||520||25%|
|Whitewater, B. C. 5,500||411||17%|
|BELOW AVERAGE||BELOW AVERAGE|
|Central Sierra Snow Lab - Boreal, Cal. 7,200||377||17%||Purgatory, Colo. 10,000||185||Dec.-Mar||10%|
|Mt. Washington, N. H. 6,262||210||8%|
|Jackson Hole, Wyo. 8,250||317||15%|
|Mt. Fidelity (Selkirks), B. C. 6,150||424||16%|
|Alpine Meadows, Calif. 7,000||357||17%|
|Sunshine Village, Alb. 7,028||254||9%|
|Taos, N. Mex. 11,200||254||7%|
|Snowbird, Utah 10,000||393||15%|
|Kirkwood (Carson Pass), Calif. 8,526||458||20%|
|Gothic, Colo. 9,400||288||11%|
|Southern California Composite 7,000 - 8,000||72||3%|
|Grand Targhee, Wyo. 8,200||401||18%|
|Alta, Utah 9.600||439||18%|
|Alyeska, Alaska 1,400||415||20%|
|Big Sky, Mont. 8,920||274||11%|
|Snowshoe, W. V. 4,848||133||7%|
|Arapahoe Basin, Colo. 10,820||298||9%|
|Jupiter Bowl, Utah 10,000||350||15%|
|Fernie, B. C. 5,400||316||15%|
|Squaw Valley, Calif. 6,200||255||11%|
|Mt. Baker, Wash. 4,300||622||29%|
|Arizona Snowbowl 2, Ariz. 10,800||186||7%|
|Brian Head, Utah 9,770||301||12%|
|Stevens Pass, Wash. 4,061||427||20%|
|Vail, Colo. 11,250||342||13%|
|Snow Basin, Utah 7,700||277||12%|
|Mt. Rose, Nev. 8,600||339||16%|
|Copper Mtn, Colo. 11,000||258||10%|
|Sugar Bowl, Calif. 7,000||423||20%|
|Bridger Bowl, Mont. 7,100||269||11%|
|Le Massif, Que. 2,600||210||10%|
|Big Mountain, Mont. 6,700||317||15%|
|Brighton/Solitude, Utah 9,400||395||17%|
|Snowmass, Colo. 11,000||279||11%|
|Aspen Mtn, Colo. 11,190||250||10%|
|Castle Mt., Alb. 5,700||263||14%|
|Schweitzer, Idaho 4,700||277||14%|
|Sugarloaf, Maine 3,695||95||4%|
|Cannon Mt., N. H. 1,800||102||5%|
|Whiteface (Lake Placid), N. Y. 3,660||109||5%|
|Crested Butte, Colo. 10,150||162||7%|
|RECORD LOW (10 Years Minimum)||RECORD LOW (10 Years Minimum)|
|Killington, Vt. 4,142||82||3%|
|Mt. Mansfield Stake, Vt. 3,950||96||4%|
|Jay Peak, Vt. 3,000||164||8%|
|Sugarbush, Vt. 3,000||156||7%|
|Stratton, Vt. 3,875||59||3%|
|Okemo, Vt. 3,300||54||3%|
|Smuggler's Notch, Vt. 1,600||160||6%|
|Stowe, Vt. 3,041||156||7%|