2008-09 Ski Season Progress Report as of December 1, 2008

October was mostly average, with small amounts of snow in many regions but nothing that will impact the season. At the end of the month a major storm hit the West Coast, but snow levels averaged 9,000 feet, so only Mammoth was able to open some natural terrain from it. The storm moved on to Utah, where the Cottonwood Canyon resorts received nearly 4 feet of snow, allowing Snowbird to open Nov. 7. The storm continued into Colorado, but the snowfall there averaged about a foot. There was scattered snow during the second week of November but next 2 weeks were dry and warm. Therefore at most western areas Thankgiving skiing was marginal. Front Range Colorado did get a weekend storm to catch up some, but overall western snowfall and open terrain are about 2 weeks behind schedule and several major areas are not yet open. Therefore below average conditions are likely for the Christmas holidays unless December snowfall is substantially above average.

California: Mammoth received 21 inches of snow near its base and opened a run Nov. 2. But much more fell on the upper mountain, which opened Nov. 7. The solid upper mountain base held up through a warm couple of weeks, and Mammoth was 40% open (the most acreage in North America) after 3 more lower mountain chairs opened on snowmaking by Thanksgiving. The big early November storm was nearly all rain at Tahoe, and with ensuing warm weather only Boreal and Mt. Rose opened for Thanksgiving on a very restricted basis, followed by Heavenly later in the weekend. Tahoe areas should be avoided until well into January unless there is a substantial dump. 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

31

51%

closed

Kirkwood

28

45%

closed

Mammoth

47

91%

40%

Southern Cal

2

25%

closed

Arizona Snowbowl

20

71%

closed

Pacific Northwest: Whistler opened for Thanksgiving, but only 5% on snowmaking trails. Mt. Bachelor is still closed because its base area has only a 4-inch base. These 2 areas have a fair chance to be OK by Christmas with normal snowfall adding to current upper mountain base depths. Other Northwest areas are lower altitude and will need major storms to get going. Recent snow levels throughout the region have been too high, so no one in Washington or Oregon is open.

Area

Season Snow

Pct. of Normal

Pct. of Area Open

Whistler

59

86%

5%

Mt. Hood Meadows

30

44%

closed

Mt. Bachelor

49.5

77%

closed

Canadian Rockies and Interior B.C.: Lake Louise opened a run on snowmaking Nov. 8 and is now 5% open. Sunshine opened Nov. 15 and has somewhat more terrain. The new Revelstoke area has had 51.5 inches and opened about 1/4 of terrain for Thanksgiving. None of the Okanagan or Kootenay areas are open yet, due to low snow and likely Northwest rain.

Area

Season Snow

Pct. of Normal

Pct. of Area Open

Lake Louise

26

78%

5%

Sunshine

30

68%

est 25%

Kicking Horse

38

71%

closed

Red Mt.

24

54%

closed

U. S. Northern Rockies: Currently only Targhee (11%), Big Sky (3%) and Jackson (4%) are open. As in the Northwest and Canada other areas have had too little snow and excessive rain at lower elevations. Only Targhee is a favorite to be in good shape by Christmas.

Area

Season Snow

Pct. of Normal

Pct. of Area Open

Whitefish

12

23%

closed

Grand Targhee

58

83%

11%

Jackson Hole

44

67%

3%

Schweitzer

18

43%

closed

Sun Valley

11

35%

closed

Utah: Snowbird opened Nov. 7 after a storm of nearly 4 feet. After more snow the next week, all 4 Cottonwood areas were open for the weekend of Nov. 15-16 (ranging from 39% at Alta to 11% at Solitude). Surface conditions were variable after 2 weeks of no new snow, but a few inches over the weekend resurfaced much of Alta and allowed Supreme to open. Park City delayed its opening to November 29 because it was often too warm to make snow. The Cottonwood areas rate to be in decent shape by Christmas with normal December snow, but other Utah areas should probably be avoided until January.

Area

Season Snow

Pct. of Normal

Pct. of Area Open

Alta

76

94%

66%

Snowbird

64

88%

18%

Brighton/Solitude

45

59%

20%

Park City

20

50%

2%

Brian Head

16

31%

4%

Northern and Central Colorado: Loveland and A-Basin opened their first snowmaking runs Oct. 15. Copper and Breckenridge also opened on snowmaking Nov. 8, and Vail and Winter Park opened Nov. 22. Historical snowfall leaders Steamboat, Vail and Winter Park are normally about 1/4 open by Thanksgiving, but everyone in the region was well under 10% open this year. The weekend storm dropped an average of 2 feet, with 4 feet at Loveland. More terrain has opened but still less than average for December 1.

Area

Season Snow

Pct. of Normal

Pct. of Area Open

Beaver Creek

46

76%

23%

Breckenridge

41

89%

11%

Copper Mt.

50

113%

9%

Keystone

31

108%

5%

Loveland

64

120%

21%

Steamboat

45

69%

4%

Vail

54

79%

15%

Winter Park

46

67%

4%

Southern and Western Colorado: Aspen, Telluride and Taos opened a handful of snowmaking runs for Thanksgiving. The Thanksgiving weekend storm averaged about 1.5 feet, allowing Wolf Creek to open most terrain. This region remains below average, and it will still take another big December like last year to get most of the steeper runs open.

Area

Season Snow

Pct. of Normal

Pct. of Area Open

Aspen

38

97%

7%

Gothic Snow Lab

37.5

68%

N/A

Telluride

47

118%

4%

Wolf Creek

38

65%

100%

Taos

26

48%

4%

Northeast: Natural snow in late October totalled 11 inches at Stowe and Jay Peak. Sunday River opened Oct. 31 and Killington opened Nov. 2 on snowmaking. Weather then turned warm and rainy, so Killington closed after 5 days while Sunday River maintained marginal operation on weekends. With 2 cold weeks and 1-3 feet of new snow, many eastern areas had more runs open than normal for Thanksgiving. Surfaces may be degraded by rain/wet snow starting late last weekend. Percents open: Sunday River 23%, Hunter 53%, Whiteface 22%, Okemo 26%, Stratton 31%, Tremblant 24%, Ste. Anne 18%. 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

54

89%

20%

Stowe

52

121%

19%

Sugarbush

35

76%

25%

Killington

61

187%

45%

Cannon Mt.

26

99%

7%

Sugarloaf

24

76%

31%

Other season snow totals: Tremblant 20, Whiteface 17, Okemo 11, Stratton 24.

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