2015-16 Ski Season Progress Report as of January 31, 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. The second half of January had excellent skiing over most of the West, with the vast majority of areas enjoying at least 3 feet of new 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. In January the Sierra continued to get snow every week as it did the prior 2 months. This averaged 2 feet per week at higher elevations, though it rained to 9,000 feet on January 29 before dropping 1+ foot of snow the next 2 days. Base depths are now 5-10 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

289

128%

100%

Alpine Meadows

250.5

140%

100%

Northstar (mid estimate)

238

156%

100%

Mt. Rose

269

159%

100%

Heavenly (upper)

233

119%

100%

Kirkwood

298

126%

100%

Mammoth

228

127%

100%

Southern Cal

49

91%

20-100%

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. There was 2+ feet of snow in the first half of January with low snow levels for good powder. In late January there were two warm storms with rain to 7,500 feet, but both were followed by 2 feet of snow so skiing remains excellent. Base depths average 6-10 feet, with 118-158 inches at Mt. Baker.

Area

Season Snow

Pct. of Normal

Pct. of Area Open

Alyeska (mid estimate)

341

127%

79%

Whistler

267

111%

100%

Crystal Mt.

329

143%

100%

Stevens Pass

269

99%

100%

Mt. Hood

270

105%

100%

Mt. Bachelor

335.5

158%

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. Late January snowfall was 3-4 feet west of the Selkirks and 1-2 feet farther east. Base depths average 6-7 feet at the former areas and 4-5 feet at the latter areas. Sun Peaks and Silver Star have been 95+% open since mid-December.

Area

Season Snow

Pct. of Normal

Pct. of Area Open

Big White

241

146%

100%

Lake Louise

126

128%

94%

Sunshine

155

111%

83%

Revelstoke

240

114%

95%

Kicking Horse

187

125%

95%

Whitewater

258

116%

100%

Red Mt.

184.5

119%

100%

Fernie

215

101%

100%

Castle Mt.

169

112%

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. Big Sky was 3/4 open at Christmas and 90+% open since mid-January. 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. Second half of January snowfall was 5+ feet in the Tetons and 3-4 feet elsewhere.

Area

Season Snow

Pct. of Normal

Pct. of Area Open

Whitefish

219

119%

100%

Bridger

171

109%

100%

Grand Targhee

263

100%

100%

Jackson Hole (mid)

206

95%

91%

Schweitzer

202

128%

100%

Brundage

225

131%

100%

Sun Valley

151

134%

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. Second half January snowfall was 5+ feet in the Cottonwoods and 3 feet elsewhere. In the far south Brian Head has been fully open on a 50+ inch base since New Year's.

Area

Season Snow

Pct. of Normal

Pct. of Area Open

Alta

266

98%

100%

Snowbird

285

115%

97%

Brighton/Solitude

258

101%

98%

Park City (mid estimate)

158

104%

99%

Snowbasin

181

113%

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 and second half January snow 2.5-4+ feet. Base depths average 4-5 feet. A-Basin was 3/4 open over Christmas and has been 95+% open since mid-January.

Area

Season Snow

Pct. of Normal

Pct. of Area Open

Beaver Creek

174

102%

100%

Breckenridge

174

97%

95%

Copper Mt.

138

95%

97%

Keystone

158

133%

100%

Loveland

171

104%

92%

Steamboat

246.5

127%

100%

Vail

190

102%

99%

Winter Park

195

107%

95%

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. Second half January snow was 3 feet in the central mountains and 1-2 feet farther south. Taos had its second best holiday season in over 20 years, opened the Kachina chair Jan. 13 and is since in full operation on an 79 inch base.

Area

Season Snow

Pct. of Normal

Pct. of Area Open

Aspen/Snowmass

135

109%

99%

Gothic Snow Lab

171

96%

N/A

Crested Butte

106

85%

68%

Telluride

215

163%

94%

Purgatory

175

137%

100%

Wolf Creek

290

156%

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 the first half of January, with Vermont snow ranging from 1-3 feet south to north. Second half of January snow averaged only about a foot, so the natural snow base is still a low tide 2 feet. As is common, the big late January storm through the eastern metro areas was not a big snow producer in upper New England and Quebec. Percents open: Okemo 76%, Stratton 81%, Hunter 90%, Sugarloaf 61%, Sunday River 64%, Tremblant 100%, Mt. St. Anne 92%.

Area

Season Snow

Pct. of Normal

Pct. of Area Open

Jay Peak (mid estimate)

85.5

49%

96%

Stowe

75

44%

91%

Sugarbush

77

53%

66%

Killington

33

25%

58%

Whiteface

67

67%

74%

Le Massif

75

62%

94%

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