2015-16 Ski Season Progress Report as of January 16, 2016

October was warmer and drier than normal in most ski regions, but there were widespread small storms through most of the West each week in November, contributing to the usual early openings on snowmaking. However, only areas in western Canada saw major storms and had much more terrain than normal open. Wolf Creek was also in full operation since mid-November with much more snow than other western US areas. The Pacific Northwest had a series of major storms in early December, spreading in lesser amounts into adjacent regions. The week before Christmas brought widespread storms to all western regions, with heaviest concentrations on the West Coast and in Utah. The West Coast and western Canada had an excellent holiday season, with all other western regions average or better. Christmas Week had scattered snow in most regions. The first half of January had El Nino influenced storm tracks into California but most ski regions had some snow.

All snowfall totals are since November 1 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 first storm started with snow levels over 9,000 feet but eventually lowered. Later storms were colder and snowed as low as Lake Tahoe but not yet enough to build a solid natural base. Mammoth and Mt. Rose opened Nov. 5 and several other areas opened mid-November. Mammoth had much more snow up high during the first storm and thus had by far the most open terrain in California in the early season. The Northwest storms moved into the Sierra the second week of December, dropping 2-4 feet and opening over half of terrain at most areas. The week before Christmas brought another 3-4 feet. A final December storm Christmas Eve dropped 2 feet more, bringing all areas close to full operation with base depths of 4-6 feet. Most Tahoe areas had more snow by Christmas than in all of last season. The Sierra had a series of storms in the first half of January totalling about 4 feet. Base depths are now 5-8 feet. 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

239

130%

91%

Alpine Meadows

210

145%

100%

Northstar (mid estimate)

198

159%

89%

Mt. Rose

213

155%

100%

Heavenly (upper)

201

128%

100%

Kirkwood

247

130%

100%

Mammoth

175

121%

100%

Southern Cal

49

121%

50-100%

Pacific Northwest: The November storms had variable snow levels and were strongest to the north. Thus only Whistler had extensive terrain open. There were 3 major storms in early December, totalling 6-8 feet of snow except for lower elevations that got rain during the second storm. The week before Christmas brought another 3-6 feet with another 1-2 feet during the holidays. Base depths average 6-9 feet, with 112-151 inches at Mt. Baker. There was 2+ feet of snow in the first half of January with low snow levels for good powder.

Area

Season Snow

Pct. of Normal

Pct. of Area Open

Alyeska (mid estimate)

266

118%

79%

Whistler

220

109%

100%

Crystal Mt.

273

145%

100%

Stevens Pass

218

97%

100%

Mt. Hood

225

107%

100%

Mt. Bachelor

271

152%

100%

Canadian Rockies and Interior B.C.: The November storms were strongest here. Some areas near the US border had some rain/snow mix like the Northwest, but other areas were far above average in both snow and open terrain. The December Northwest storms pushed into the region, with snowfall ranging from 2 feet at the Banff areas to 5 feet in the Kootenay areas. Snowfall during the second half of December ranged from under a foot at Banff to 3+ feet in the Kootenays. First half of January snowfall was nearly 2 feet west of the Selkirks but less than a foot farther east. Base depths average 4 feet, with over 6 feet at Big White, Whitewater and Revelstoke. Sun Peaks and Silver Star have been 95+% open since mid-December.

Area

Season Snow

Pct. of Normal

Pct. of Area Open

Big White

196

142%

100%

Lake Louise

106

129%

95%

Sunshine

128

110%

83%

Revelstoke

201.5

114%

95%

Kicking Horse

155

124%

95%

Whitewater

216

119%

100%

Red Mt.

147

116%

100%

Fernie

161

92%

85%

Castle Mt.

140

113%

100%

U. S. Northern Rockies: November snow was below average but Targhee as usual had some of the most terrain open in North America in early season. The first half of December Northwest storms dumped 4+ feet in Idaho but lesser amounts in Montana and Wyoming. The week before Christmas dumped 3-4 feet upon the entire region, bringing base depths up to 4-6 feet. Christmas Week brought 1-2 feet of snow to the Tetons and near the Canadian border, with less than a foot at areas in between. First half of January snowfall ranged from 1-3+ feet.

Area

Season Snow

Pct. of Normal

Pct. of Area Open

Whitefish

161

107%

100%

Bridger

131

101%

100%

Grand Targhee

196

91%

100%

Jackson Hole (mid)

138

79%

85%

Schweitzer

153

118%

100%

Brundage

185

132%

100%

Sun Valley

125

137%

97%

Utah: Most of the November storms split before reaching Utah, which thus had substantially below average snowfall plus a dry first week of December. The Northwest storms dropped 2-3 feet of snow during the second week of December, 3-5 feet fell the week before Christmas, and another foot over Christmas. 2-3+ feet fell during the first half of January. Base depths are 5+ feet in the Cottonwoods and 3-4 feet elsewhere. In the far south Brian Head is fully open on a 50-inch base.

Area

Season Snow

Pct. of Normal

Pct. of Area Open

Alta

201

92%

95%

Snowbird

215

105%

93%

Brighton/Solitude

197

93%

93%

Park City (mid estimate)

120

96%

89%

Snowbasin

144

109%

100%

Northern and Central Colorado: October was much warmer than usual so snowmaking was delayed until the last week and Loveland and A-Basin each opened a snowmaking run October 29. The consistent modest November snowfalls accumulated base depths of 2+ feet with mostly average terrain openings (Keystone the positive exception) for early season. December snowfall was consistent each week, totalling about 4-5 feet at most areas but 8 feet at Steamboat. First half of January snow was 1-2 feet. Base depths average 3-4+ feet. A-Basin is 96% open.

Area

Season Snow

Pct. of Normal

Pct. of Area Open

Beaver Creek

136

96%

96%

Breckenridge

131

92%

94%

Copper Mt.

103

85%

75%

Keystone

128

130%

98%

Loveland

138

100%

82%

Steamboat

189.5

118%

100%

Vail

140

90%

98%

Winter Park

158

105%

91%

Southern and Western Colorado: The central Colorado mountains had a below average November, while the southern mountains and New Mexico were above average. Wolf Creek's base reached 50 inches by the end of November. The second week of December storms were also stronger in the southern (2-3 feet with 4+ at Wolf Creek) than central (1-2 feet) mountains. 2-3 feet of snow fell during the week before Christmas and an average 2 feet (4 feet at Wolf Creek) during Christmas Week. First half of January snow was 1-2 feet, but likely more in New Mexico. Taos had its second best holiday season in over 20 years, opened the Kachina chair Jan. 13 and is full operation on an 82 inch base.

Area

Season Snow

Pct. of Normal

Pct. of Area Open

Aspen/Snowmass

101

99%

99%

Gothic Snow Lab

134

91%

N/A

Crested Butte

77

75%

55%

Telluride

174

157%

97%

Purgatory

152

143%

100%

Wolf Creek

270

175%

100%

Northeast: Mid-October cold allowed Killington and Sunday River to open first in North America on October 19. After a week of skiing the snow melted and snowmaking did not resume for nearly 3 weeks. With minimal natural snow and sustained unseasonably warm temperatures, terrain open at Christmas was the worst on record. Terrain open increased moderately in Quebec with a foot of snow during Christmas Week but only slightly in New England. Colder weather finally arrived in January, with Vermont snow ranging from 1-3 feet south to north. Percents open: Okemo 63%, Stratton 73%, Hunter 76%, Sugarloaf 52%, Sunday River 42%, Tremblant 78%, Mt. St. Anne 62%.

Area

Season Snow

Pct. of Normal

Pct. of Area Open

Jay Peak (mid estimate)

69

50%

73%

Stowe

56

39%

72%

Sugarbush

59

50%

86%

Killington

22

21%

46%

Whiteface

41

49%

51%

Le Massif

69

68%

90%

Directory of Ski Report Links

All content herein copyright 1996-2016 Bestsnow.net
All Rights Reserved.
No copies or reproductions may be made in whole or in part without express permission by Tony Crocker.
Prices for commercial users will be determined based upon intended use and distribution.