2010-11 Ski Season Progress Report as of February 13, 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 stayed above average from the strong early season. The first half of February has continued the drier than normal pattern from January over most of the West.

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 at the end of January but there has been no snow so far in February. A major storm is expected to break the month+ drought later this week. 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

110%

100%

Northstar

233

128%

100%

Mt. Rose

230

111%

80%

Kirkwood

359

123%

100%

Mammoth

318

148%

100%

Southern Cal

51

70%

30-100%

Arizona Snowbowl

128

88%

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 had no more than a foot the rest of the month. February snowfall has ranged from 3+ feet at Whistler to 1 foot in Oregon.

Area

Season Snow

Pct. of Normal

Pct. of Area Open

Whistler

361

134%

100%

Crystal Mt.

255

100%

100%

Stevens Pass

222

73%

100%

Mt. Bachelor

303

125%

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 had 2 feet of late January snow to improve conditions. February snowfall has been 2-3 feet at most areas, but only about 1 foot at the areas close to the U.S. border.

Area

Season Snow

Pct. of Normal

Pct. of Area Open

Lake Louise

147

138%

86%

Sunshine

151

101%

91%

Revelstoke

220

86%

100%

Kicking Horse

223

132%

100%

Whitewater

248

99%

100%

Red Mt.

174

97%

100%

Fernie

237

100%

100%

Castle Mt.

167

96%

100%

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. Over the past month snowfall averaged a slightly below average 4 feet in Montana and 5 feet in the Tetons. Idaho has been much drier, with snow over the past month ranging from 30 inches at Schweitzer to just 2 inches at Sun Valley.

Area

Season Snow

Pct. of Normal

Pct. of Area Open

Whitefish

215

104%

100%

Bridger

187

103%

100%

Grand Targhee

327

107%

100%

Jackson Hole

295

119%

100%

Schweitzer

196

111%

100%

Brundage

178

88%

100%

Sun Valley

108.5

84%

99%

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. February snowfall has been 3+ feet in the Cottonwood Canyons but less than half that elsewhere.

Area

Season Snow

Pct. of Normal

Pct. of Area Open

Alta

348

111%

100%

Snowbird

346

129%

100%

Brighton/Solitude

346

117%

100%

Park City

239

132%

100%

Snowbasin

188

103%

100%

Brian Head

197

102%

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. 2-4 feet so far in February.

Area

Season Snow

Pct. of Normal

Pct. of Area Open

Beaver Creek

227

114%

100%

Breckenridge

330

191%

100%

Copper Mt.

254

151%

100%

Keystone

217

160%

100%

Loveland

288

150%

96%

Steamboat

303

134%

100%

Vail

322

149%

100%

Winter Park

219

103%

93%


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. 2+ feet so far in February at most areas.

Area

Season Snow

Pct. of Normal

Pct. of Area Open

Gothic Snow Lab

293

137%

N/A

Crested Butte

204

139%

93%

Telluride

157

100%

94%

Wolf Creek

266

122%

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 were mostly good during the second half of January with 1-2 feet of snow and mostly cold temperatures, and have improved further in February with up to 4 feet. Eastern Canada has had a much worse season than new England, finally reaching close to full operation by the end of January.. Current percents open: Sunday River 100%, Sugarloaf 96%, Okemo 100%, Stratton 100%, Stowe 99%, Whiteface 99%, Hunter 87%, Tremblant 100%, Ste. Anne 97%. 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)

216

103%

100%

Sugarbush

199

120%

100%

Killington

176

112%

100%

Cannon Mt.

174

180%

100%

Le Massif

112

74%

85%

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