1997-98 Ski Season Progress Report as of April 13, 1998

Western snowfall through mid-December favored the Southwest and was below average or worse elsewhere. January's snow was just the reverse, high in most Western regions except the Southwest. In February El Nino finally lived up to its billing, dumping on California. Western snowfall in the first 3 weeks of March was well below average, but then the February snow pattern recurred in late March and early April. The Sierra is clearly the prime ski region in North America for the rest of this season. Late spring operation is determined by the level of stockpiled snow, preservation characteristics and proximity to a large enough population center to be profitable. Most areas have scheduled closing dates of which last weekend, April 12, was most common.

California:The Sierra is receiving some new snow this week in addition to the 5 feet since late March. Base depths are 12-20 feet on the Sierra Crest and 7 feet at the lowest elevations. Mammoth's year-to-date snow total of 497 inches is 155% of normal. Current conditions are packed powder and the Sierra can expect a long and excellent spring season. Mammoth will be open until at least July 4 with the Sierra's best spring skiing. Tahoe's best bets will be Kirkwood until May 3 and then Alpine Meadows into June. Some areas in Southern California and Arizona (base depths 5-9 feet now) will be open until early May. See the California regional table for snow preservation tendencies. See Current California Ski Conditions for more details on Southern California and Mammoth.

Pacific Northwest: There has been some new snow in April after a warmer than normal March. Mt. Bachelor's base depths are now close to average (120-150 inches) and they should have a good spring season through June. Whistler / Blackcomb has had an above average season and still has winter conditions in the alpine regions. Check Cascade Ski Report Current Conditions or Northwest Ski Report First-Hand Reports for up to date information. See the Pacific Northwest regional table for snow preservation tendencies.

Canadian Rockies and Interior B.C.: Most of these areas are closed due to their remote locations. Sunshine runs through late May, but the rocks will come out earlier than normal this spring, as the Banff region has had a lean snow season. See the Interior Canada regional table for snow preservation tendencies.

U. S. Northern Rockies: Jackson's closing date snow total of 340 inches (nearly half of it in January) was 95% of normal. Most of these areas have a much lower fraction of north facing terrain than Utah or Colorado. Most of the other areas are also closed. See the Northern Rockies regional table for snow preservation tendencies, which tend to be less than ideal in March with the sunny exposures.

Utah: has continued to receive fresh snow as the California storms moved inland. Cottonwood Canyon base depths are 9-12 feet. Alta's snowfall since Nov. 1 is 554 inches, about 116% of normal. Alta runs to the last weekend of April. Snowbird is Utah's best spring skiing bet, in full operation through April, while running the tram for access to Little Cloud for at least another month. See the Utah regional table for snow preservation tendencies.

Northern and Central Colorado: has continued to get about a foot of snow per week. Vail's year-to-date snowfall of 259.5 inches is 77% of normal, while Steamboat's 267 inches through the end of March was 86% of normal. Most areas are in full operation, and conditions are holding up well despite below average base depths. See the Northern and Central Colorado regional table for snow preservation tendencies.

Southern and Western Colorado: has had season snowfall similar to Northern and Central Colorado. Most areas are closed due to remote location. Snow preservation is usually excellent in this region and conditions should be very good for this last week that a few areas remain open. See the Southern and Western Colorado regional table for details.

Northeast: November and December had above average snowfall and very favorable snowmaking weather, resulting in an excellent season through the holidays. This marked contrast to the warm and dry 1982-83 season demonstrates, in my opinion, that El Nino is not particularly relevant to East Coast weather. Conditions took an abrupt turn for the worse in early January, with extensive thaw followed by rain and ice storms. Some areas were cut back to 50% open, but most areas were restored to close to full operation with extensive snowmaking and 2 feet of new snow in late January. February and most of March saw warmer than normal temperatures, but there were 1+ foot storms most weeks in the northern areas. New England skiing was devastated by the heat wave of late March. The southern areas were pretty much wiped out and the northern areas lost 4 feet of base. There will be some spring skiing on stockpiled snow at Killington and Sunday River plus some far northern areas like Stowe and Sugarloaf. As my report is an overview, I strongly recommend checking Scenes of Vermont Ski Page or New England Ski Guide's Weekend Forecast for up to date information in this region, where both weather and surface conditions can change so rapidly. Surface conditions are much more a function of recent weather in the East, as opposed to altitude and exposure in the West.

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