2010-11 Ski Season Progress Report as of January 30, 2011

October snowfall was above average, with a widespread storm through the Northwest and much of the Rockies during its last week. Snow from this storm is included in season totals for many areas as it contributed to the strong early season conditions and to some areas advancing their opening dates. Mid-November snow was abundant in Utah's Cottonwood Canyons and Front Range Colorado and followed up by a major storm in the Sierra that also pushed into the Rockies. Since I began keeping detailed records 14 years ago only 1996-97 had as many areas with Thanksgiving conditions this good. Snowfall from Thanksgiving into mid-December was primarily in the Pacific Northwest and U.S. Northern Rockies but also in northern Utah and Colorado. During the 3rd week of December an exceptionally powerful storm pounded California for the whole week and moved on to Utah and much of Colorado. Christmas week snowfall was highest in the Pacific Northwest but all regions had some new snow. Overall this was the best holiday ski season since 1996-97 with just a very few areas in limited operation. During the first half of January the storm track was primarily in the Northwest and western Canada, with average snow in the northern US Rockies but much drier than usual farther south. The second half of January had heavy snow in northern and central Colorado, which is the standout consistent region of this season so far. Other regions were drier than average but in most cases base depths are above average from the strong early season.

California: October's snow was just a few inches, not material to the season. After about a foot in early November the Sierra had a 4 day storm in mid-November of 5-10 feet and another foot over Thanksgiving weekend. Base depths were in the 3-6 foot range because that storm had drier than normal snow, and more snow is needed for some expert terrain. There have been some December storms but with occasional rain as high as 9,000 feet. The 3rd week of December storm dropped 5-7 feet of snow at Tahoe areas and over 10 feet at Mammoth. Sierra areas are fully open for the holidays with base depths of 5-12+ feet and have had 2 more storms totalling 2-3 feet during Christmas week. Farther south it rained for 4 days in Southern California with 1-3 feet of snow at the end of the big storm. Arizona Snowbowl opened Christmas Day and had 8 feet of snow in the second half of December. There was less than a foot of snow in the Sierra from January 3-29, so widespread melt/freeze conditions developed. Up to a foot of snow fell this weekend to improve surfaces. 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

295

132%

100%

Northstar

233

153%

100%

Mt. Rose

229

132%

75%

Kirkwood

357

149%

100%

Mammoth

320

180%

100%

Southern Cal

51

92%

40-100%

Arizona Snowbowl

119

99%

100%

Pacific Northwest: Before Thanksgiving Oregon got off to a strong start while Washington State and Whistler were slightly above average. From Thanksgiving to mid-December there was 5-7 feet of snow throughout the region with fluctuating temps but ending with all snow. Mt. Baker and Hood Meadows have been 90% open since Dec. 1. The Whistler alpine opened Dec. 4. Northwest areas were in full operation for the holidays on 5-8 foot bases. There was 3+ feet of snow during the holiday week and 5 feet at Whistler and Mt. Bachelor. During the first half of January there has been 5 feet at Whistler, 3 feet in Washington and up to 2 feet in Oregon. A mid-January storm rained through at least mid elevations and lower elevations have had no more than a foot since.

Area

Season Snow

Pct. of Normal

Pct. of Area Open

Whistler

321

136%

100%

Crystal Mt.

239

107%

100%

Stevens Pass

209

78%

100%

Mt. Bachelor

295

140%

100%

Canadian Rockies and Interior B.C.: November snowfall was high along the U.S. border but only about average farther north. This trend continued into early December, with Fernie being the standout area of the early season. Most western Canadian ski areas had 3-4 feet of snow in December and holiday base depths in the 4 foot range. Silver Star and Sun Peaks reached full operation just before Christmas and Big White shortly after New Years. The Banff areas had less than 3 feet of December snow with base depths of 3 feet, so some advanced terrain did not open until they got 3-4 feet the second week of January. Mid-January was snowy throughout the region, though the warm Northwest storm brought some low elevation rain. Most areas have had 2 feet of late Janaury snow to improve comnditions.

Area

Season Snow

Pct. of Normal

Pct. of Area Open

Lake Louise

121

127%

84%

Sunshine

126

93%

91%

Revelstoke

185

82%

100%

Kicking Horse

183

120%

98%

Whitewater

228

104%

100%

Red Mt.

165

105%

100%

Fernie

224

108%

100%

Castle Mt.

154

101%

95%

U. S. Northern Rockies: The Tetons had 39 inches in October and were also hit by the mid- November storms, so Jackson opened early on November 27. With 3 feet of snow since Thanksgiving Jackson and Targhee had the most snow on record for early December. Then there was some rain up to 8,000 feet but there was 4-5 feet of snow by Christmas throughout the region, continuing the strong start. Big Sky was 100% open by Christmas. Holiday base depths were 6+ feet in the Tetons and 4-5 feet elsewhere. There was 1+ foot of snow Christmas week, topped by 3 feet at Brundage. Early January snowfall ranged from 2 to 4 feet with some low elevation rain during the mid-January Northwest storm. Second half of Janaury snow has averaged 1 foot in Idaho, 2 feet in Montana and 3 feet in the Tetons

Area

Season Snow

Pct. of Normal

Pct. of Area Open

Whitefish

196

108%

100%

Bridger

158.5

101%

100%

Grand Targhee

300

114%

100%

Jackson Hole

277

128%

100%

Schweitzer

187

120%

100%

Brundage

174

98%

100%

Sun Valley

107.5

96%

100%

Utah: There was new snow 5 of the 6 weeks since late October in the Cottonwood Canyons, leading to majority of terrain open by Thanksgiving. The storm from California the 3rd week of December raised the snow level as high as 8,000 feet but still dumped 6 feet in the Cottonwood Canyons and 4-5 feet elsewhere. Holiday base depths are 9+ feet in the Cottonwood Canyons and 6-8 feet elsewhere after another 2-3 feet Christmas week. There was no more than a foot of snow during the first half of January and it rained to 10,000 feet January 16. However it snowed 2+ feet the next week to restore surfaces.

Area

Season Snow

Pct. of Normal

Pct. of Area Open

Alta

307

115%

100%

Snowbird

306

134%

100%

Brighton/Solitude

319

126%

100%

Park City

217

140%

99%

Snowbasin

181

116%

100%

Brian Head

177

110%

100%

Northern and Central Colorado: This region got off to a great start with snow every week since late October. Loveland and A-Basin opened their first snowmaking runs about a week later than usual but were helped by the late October storm. Most areas were over half open at Thanksgiving, the highest percents open in the 22 years of data I have for Breckenridge and Copper and 2nd highest for Vail. The other areas are all at least in the top quarter of early seasons. Vail opened Blue Sky Basin Dec. 4 and most areas are 80+% open now. The 3rd week of December storm added an average of 3 feet throughout the region and holiday base depths were 4-5 feet. Average one foot new snow Christmas week and 2+ during the first half of January. 4-5 feet fell at most areas during the 3rd week of January, continuing the outstanding season in this region.

Area

Season Snow

Pct. of Normal

Pct. of Area Open

Beaver Creek

187

108%

100%

Breckenridge

297

199%

100%

Copper Mt.

229

157%

100%

Keystone

188

161%

100%

Loveland

254

153%

95%

Steamboat

252

129%

100%

Vail

277

148%

100%

Winter Park

190

103%

92%


Southern and Western Colorado: Early season snowfall was close to average along the western part of I-70 but somewhat below average in southern Colorado. Wolf Creek was fully open early but its mid-December base of 2 feet was less than half normal for that time. But the 3rd week of December storm was huge at many of these areas: 94 inches at Gothic, 93 at Wolf Creek, 69 at Purgatory and 56 at Crested Butte. 60% of Crested Butte's extreme terrain opened gradually duing Christmas week and over 80% of it is open now. Aspen and Telluride got about 4 feet during the second half of December. Taos missed most of the big storm, then had 3 feet Christmas week but was only 34% open at New Years. Taos reports 80% open since mid-Januaqry, but steeps must be sketchy on a 40-inch base. New Mexico remains the only part of the West conspicuously low on snow this season. Early January snowfall averaged 1.5 feet throughout the region. Second half of January snowfall was 2 feet in the north but almost none in the south.

Area

Season Snow

Pct. of Normal

Pct. of Area Open

Aspen/Snowmass

142

113%

100%

Gothic Snow Lab

268

150%

N/A

Crested Butte

185

150%

93%

Telluride

129

98%

91%

Wolf Creek

228

124%

100%

Northeast: There was natural snow in mid-October, 25 inches at Stowe and 16 at Killington. November was warmer than normal in the Northeast with very little new snow, so snowmaking leaders Sunday River and Killington were 13% open at Thanksgiving but other Northeast areas open were under 10%. Conditions slowly improved with 2-3 feet new snow in early December. After rain on Dec. 13 it remained mostly cold with 2+ feet more snow so more terrain opened by Christmas with good surfaces. As usual the big Christmas storm along the East Coast only brought modest snows to upper New England. Up to 3+ feet snow during the second week of January finally brought most New England areas close to full operation. Conditions have been msotly good during the second half of January with 1-2 feet of snow and mostly cold temperatures. Eastern Canada is continuing a poor season so far. Current percents open: Sunday River 93%, Sugarloaf 90%, Okemo 100%, Stratton 100%, Whiteface 93%, Hunter 93%, Tremblant 95%, Ste. Anne 72%. I strongly recommend checking First Tracks Online Ski Magazine No-Bull Ski Reports for up to date information in this region, where both weather and surface conditions can change so rapidly.

Area

Season Snow

Pct. of Normal

Pct. of Area Open

Jay Peak (mid)

151

86%

99%

Stowe (Mansfield Stake)

90.5

73%

98%

Sugarbush

153

109%

100%

Killington

123

92%

97%

Cannon Mt.

149

187%

100%

Le Massif

103

87%

72%

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