2010-11 Ski Season Progress Report as of February 27, 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 continued the drier than normal pattern from January over most of the West. This pattern ended in mid-February with substantial storms along the West Coast and in Utah. There was a similar round of storms at the end of the month.

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 the first half of February was dry again. Then 5-7 feet fell before and during President's weekend and another 3-4 feet at the end of the month. 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

444

142%

100%

Northstar

323

153%

100%

Mt. Rose

350

145%

100%

Kirkwood

492

143%

100%

Mammoth

415

165%

100%

Southern Cal

105

115%

90-100%

Arizona Snowbowl

188

110%

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. Early February snowfall ranged from 3+ feet at Whistler to 1 foot in Oregon. At least 5 feet of snow fell during the second half of February throughout the region, with 7 feet at Mt. Bachelor.

Area

Season Snow

Pct. of Normal

Pct. of Area Open

Whistler

423

140%

100%

Crystal Mt.

315

110%

100%

Stevens Pass

279

72%

100%

Mt. Bachelor

396

145%

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. During the second half of February the border areas got 2-3 feet with lesser amounts farther north.

Area

Season Snow

Pct. of Normal

Pct. of Area Open

Lake Louise

154

131%

92%

Sunshine

167

98%

99%

Revelstoke

241

85%

100%

Kicking Horse

243

130%

100%

Whitewater

278

99%

100%

Red Mt.

201

100%

100%

Fernie

267

101%

100%

Castle Mt.

180

92%

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 next month snowfall averaged a slightly below average 4 feet in Montana and 5 feet in the Tetons. Idaho was been much drier, with snow from mid-January to mid-February ranging from 30 inches at Schweitzer to just 2 inches at Sun Valley. Most areas got about 3 feet during the second half of February, topped by 6 feet at Targhee.

Area

Season Snow

Pct. of Normal

Pct. of Area Open

Whitefish

249

108%

100%

Bridger

217

106%

100%

Grand Targhee

397

114%

100%

Jackson Hole

332

118%

100%

Schweitzer

246

124%

100%

Brundage

221

97%

100%

Sun Valley

136

93%

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. Early February snowfall was 3+ feet in the Cottonwood Canyons but less than half that elsewhere. The two big storms in the second half of February totalled 7 feet in the Cottonwood Canyons and 5 feet elsewhere.

Area

Season Snow

Pct. of Normal

Pct. of Area Open

Alta

437

123%

100%

Snowbird

434

141%

100%

Brighton/Solitude

437

130%

100%

Park City

302

146%

100%

Snowbasin

238

114%

100%

Brian Head

238

106%

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. February snowfall was consistent and close to average, ranging from 4 feet at Copper to 7 feet at Loveland.

Area

Season Snow

Pct. of Normal

Pct. of Area Open

Beaver Creek

259

114%

100%

Breckenridge

357

182%

100%

Copper Mt.

272

142%

100%

Keystone

245

160%

100%

Loveland

332

152%

96%

Steamboat

335

130%

100%

Vail

358

145%

100%

Winter Park

247

102%

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-January, but steeps were sketchy on a 40-inch base which has rien now to 56 inches. 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 in early February at most areas. The second half of February storms dropped nearly 5 feet at Gothic and Wolf Creek but 2-3 feet elsewhere.

Area

Season Snow

Pct. of Normal

Pct. of Area Open

Aspen/Snowmass

207

119%

99%

Gothic Snow Lab

357

144%

N/A

Crested Butte

243

142%

94%

Telluride

171

95%

87%

Wolf Creek

322

127%

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 improved further in early February with up to 4 feet. There was a thaw before President's weekend, but 1-2 feet of snow restored surfaces by the end of February. 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 96%, Sugarloaf 95%, Okemo 100%, Stratton 99%, Stowe 98%, Hunter 83%, Tremblant 93%, Ste. Anne 88%. 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)

234

95%

99%

Sugarbush

225

118%

100%

Killington

192

101%

99%

Cannon Mt.

196

173%

100%

Whiteface

189

149%

100%

Le Massif

125

70%

75%

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