1998-99 Ski Season Progress Report as of April 13, 1999

Western snowfall through most of this season was concentrated in the Pacific Northwest and adjoining regions. A widespread warm spell brought spring conditions to most areas by mid-March, but then winter returned to much of the West with heavy snowfalls in late March and early April. Late season skiers should consider visiting Whistler/Blackcomb or Mt. Bachelor, which are having their best seasons in 25 years with base depths of 14-18 feet. 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 11, was most common.

Only a few areas publish year-to-date snow on their websites. Other areas I receive occasionally by e-mail. Snow totals in italics are as of March 19.

California: The Sierra has been pounded with up to 6 feet of snow so far in April, yielding winter conditions and some great powder days. The snowpack is now above average after being reduced during the warm spell in March. Mammoth will have quality spring skiing through at least Memorial Day.
Season snow: Alpine Meadows, estimated 401 inches, 119% of normal; Heavenly, 242 inches, 113% of normal; Mammoth, 389 inches, 118% of normal. Arizona Snowbowl has had a severe drought year, 112 inches, 43% of normal, but is now back in weekend operation with the recent snow after being closed since late February.
See the California regional table for snow preservation tendencies. See Current California Ski Conditions for more details on Southern California and Mammoth.

Pacific Northwest: This region was dumped on almost continuously in February, but turned to spring conditions in March. However, 2-4 feet in late March yielded a few more big powder days. Base depths are 11-18 feet except at Mt. Baker, which has 25+ feet. Whistler's 170+ inch base in the alpine, the highest since 1974, will yield an outstanding spring season. Mt. Bachelor's 200 inch base will ensure quality skiing into July.
Season snow: Mt. Baker, 1,058 inches (eclipsing Mt. Rainier's 1,039 inch world record from November 1971 through April 1972), 186% of normal; Crystal, 552 inches, 163% of normal; Mt. Bachelor, 453 inches, 136% of normal.
See the Pacific Northwest regional table for snow preservation tendencies. Check Northwest Ski Reports for current surface conditions and the numerous powder days this season.

Canadian Rockies and Interior B.C.: The Okanagan enjoyed record base depths of 7-13 feet this season, about 200% of normal. The Kootenay (7-13 foot bases) and Banff (5-8 foot bases) areas also enjoyed an excellent season, although spring conditions emerged at low elevations or sunny exposures in mid-March. 2-3 feet of new snow restored winter conditions to much of western Canada in late March, and there has been some new snow in April as well. Most of these areas are closed due to their remote locations, but Sunshine will have a good spring season through late May
Season snow: Lake Louise, 250 inches, 199% of normal
See the Interior Canada regional table for snow preservation tendencies.

U. S. Northern Rockies: Idaho panhandle areas like Schweitzer had near record snow this season from the Pacific Northwest storms. Season snowfall was consistently above average from Christmas through early March. Big Sky opened Lone Peak the second week of January. Most of these areas have a much lower fraction of north facing terrain than Utah or Colorado. See the Northern Rockies regional table for snow preservation tendencies, which tend to be less than ideal in spring with the sunny exposures. Most of these areas are now closed.
Season snow: Schweitzer, 352 inches, 157% of normal; Sun Valley, 191 inches, 107% of normal; Jackson, 387 inches as of April 4 close, 110% of normal.

Utah: has received about 4 feet of snow as the California storms moved inland. Cottonwood Canyon base depths are 8-10 feet. Alta's snowfall since Nov. 1 is 406 inches, 85% 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: This region had its worst holiday season since 1980-81 but received above normal snow in January. Most of Vail's back bowls opened in mid-January and almost all expert terrain in the region was open by mid-February. Vail has closed the back bowls now to start rebuilding Two Elk restaurant. Base depths of 4-5 feet at most areas are below average for this time of year. Spring arrived early with two warm mid-March weeks, but there has been about a foot of snow per week since. However, A-Basin's traditional late season will be considerably abbreviated this year if there is a warm spring on the current low snow base.
Season snow: Steamboat, 319 inches, 99% of normal; Winter Park, 280 inches, 83% of normal; Vail, 219 inches, 65% of normal; Breckenridge, 236 inches, 93% of normal.
See the Northern and Central Colorado regional table for snow preservation tendencies.

Southern and Western Colorado: The southwest areas got hit with 3-5 feet of new snow in late March and early April, but are all closed now. Crested Butte opened most of the North Face February 1, and most of Snowmass' expert terrain opened in February.
Season snow: Snowmass, 183 inches, 81% of normal; Crested Butte, 208 inches, 95% of normal; Telluride, 210 inches, 103% of normal; Wolf Creek, big dumps in October, then 185 inches, 62% of normal since Nov. 1.
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: March brought up to 5 feet of snowfall and the best conditions of the season to New England. Base depths remained slightly below normal due to the poor early season. Most areas are now closed, but a few of the major northern ones will be in limited operation for a few more weeks.
Season snow: Killington, 215 inches, 91% of normal; Stowe, 189 inches, 91% of normal.
November temperatures were above freezing as often as below, and Thanksgiving weekend brought the first significant (6-12 inches) natural snow to the northern areas. Skiing was almost reduced to square one by the warm spell of early December but snowmaking was nearly continuous for the rest of the month. The first half of January brought the first big storms to New England, with some Vermont areas getting 4 feet or more. Most New England areas reached full operation, including natural snow areas like Mad River Glen. A week of thaw closed many runs, but most areas were 80-90% open again by late January. February snow was below average, but most areas maintained their coverage on variable surfaces with snowmaking. 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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