2010-11 Ski Season Progress Report as of April 10, 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. The first half of March finally reflected the strong La Nina, pounding the Pacific Northwest and western Canada, with moderate snows in adjacent regions. Snowfall in the second half of March was heavy over most of the West, with the overall season now likely to rank in the top 5 of the past 35 years for which I have significant data. Snow was at least average through the first week of April before giving way to more widespread spring conditions.

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. In the first half of March it snowed up to 5 feet at Tahoe and half as much at Mammoth. However there was some rain mix below 8,000 feet. During the second half of March the Sierra was hammered with 10-15 feet of snow. 1+ foot of snow in early April. With the deep bases several areas will be open to May 1, Squaw to Memorial Day and Mammoth to July 4. 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

696

170%

100%

Northstar

531

191%

100%

Mt. Rose

535

168%

100%

Kirkwood

717

162%

100%

Mammoth

602.5

186%

100%

Southern Cal

156

129%

0-90%

Arizona Snowbowl

261

112%

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. First half of March snowfall was 6 feet in Oregon and 8 feet in Washington and Whistler. During the second half of March Whistler got 3 feet, Washington areas 5 feet and Oregon areas 7 feet. Continued strong in early April with 2+ feet.

Area

Season Snow

Pct. of Normal

Pct. of Area Open

Whistler

570

147%

100%

Crystal Mt.

505

138%

100%

Stevens Pass

487

111%

100%

Mt. Bachelor

581

169%

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. The first half of March has been excellent, with at least 3-4 feet in the region, and 6 feet at Fernie and Whitewater. During the second half of March there was 4 feet of snow at Red and Whitewater and average 2 feet elsewhere in the region. Early April brought another 2+ feet with over 3 feet at Fernie and Whitewater.

Area

Season Snow

Pct. of Normal

Pct. of Area Open

Lake Louise

186

127%

96%

Sunshine

272

126%

100%

Revelstoke

422

120%

100%

Kicking Horse

318

135%

100%

Whitewater

445

123%

close 4/10

Red Mt.

300

116%

close 4/6

Fernie

423

125%

100%

Castle Mt.

300

119%

close 4/10

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. In early March there has been 4-6 feet at the areas nearest Canada, 3-4 feet in the Tetons and 2-3 feet elsewhere. During the second half of March most areas got 5 feet of snow with 3 feet near the Canadian border. Some of these areas close early due to remote location but early April snow averaged 2 feet with 4+ at Targhee.

Area

Season Snow

Pct. of Normal

Pct. of Area Open

Whitefish

355

120%

close 4/10

Bridger

327

119%

close 4/10

Grand Targhee

558

127%

100%

Schweitzer

345

141%

close 4/10

Brundage

332

114%

100%

Sun Valley

229

125%

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. 3-4+ feet during the first half of March and 4-6 feet during the second half of March. Early April snow was 5-6 feet in the Cottonwood Canyons and 3+ feet elsewhere.

Area

Season Snow

Pct. of Normal

Pct. of Area Open

Alta

637

133%

100%

Snowbird

631

151%

100%

Brighton/Solitude

614

136%

100%

Park City

422

152%

99%

Snowbasin

361

129%

72%

Brian Head

360

119%

97%

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. Early March was also close to average, with 2-3+ feet at most areas. Late March was snowier, with 4-5 feet. An average early April, with 1-2 feet. Many areas will be in full operation to the late Easter with the deep base.

Area

Season Snow

Pct. of Normal

Pct. of Area Open

Beaver Creek

374

123%

100%

Breckenridge

478

182%

100%

Copper Mt.

356

139%

96%

Loveland

448

145%

91%

Steamboat

433

126%

close 4/10

Vail

473

143%

100%

Winter Park

341

105%

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 during Christmas week and over 80% of it was open now by early January. 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. March snowfall was 4-5 feet at most areas, scattered fairly evenly through the month. About 1 foot in early April though most areas are closed due to remote location.

Area

Season Snow

Pct. of Normal

Pct. of Area Open

Gothic Snow Lab

452

136%

N/A

Aspen/Snowmass

270

117%

95%

Wolf Creek

397

112%

close 4/10

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. While there has been some rain, early March has been the snowiest stretch of the season, 2-3 feet at most areas with up to 5 feet in northern Vermont. Average 1-2 feet in late March, and another 1+ foot in early April. Eastern Canada has had a much worse season than New England, finally reaching close to full operation by the end of January, but snowfall has continued to lag New England's. Current percents open: Sunday River 98%, Sugarloaf 95%, Okemo 81%, Stratton 78%, Stowe 85%, Tremblant 79%, Ste. Anne 95%. 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)

331

105%

100%

Sugarbush

305

124%

65%

Killington

246

105%

67%

Cannon Mt.

248

167%

close 4/10

Whiteface

247

151%

cloe 4/10

Le Massif

197

88%

close 4/10

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