2010-11 Ski Season Progress Report as of December 15, 2010

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 after Thanksgiving was primarily in the Pacific Northwest and U.S. Northern Rockies but also in northern Utah and Colorado. This trend has continued into mid-December but has included some warm weather with high rain/snow lines. But recent and predicted storms are mostly snow.

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 are 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. Substantial storms predicted for this weekend should get nearly all terrain open by Christmas. 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

165

177%

75%

Northstar

128

203%

90%

Mt. Rose

123

170%

67%

Kirkwood

221

227%

80%

Mammoth

119

155%

90%

Southern Cal

6

36%

0-57%

Pacific Northwest: Before Thanksgiving Oregon got off to a strong start while Washington State and Whistler were slightly above average. Since Thanksgiving there has been about 5-7 feet of snow throughout the region with fluctuuating temps but all snow in the most recent storm. Mt. Baker is 90% open and Hood Meadows 90% open on 5 foot bases. The Whistler alpine opened Dec. 4.

Area

Season Snow

Pct. of Normal

Pct. of Area Open

Whistler

153

135%

74%

Crystal Mt.

132

133%

88%

Stevens Pass

116

98%

73%

Mt. Bachelor

185

186%

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 region so far. Over the past week most western Canadian ski areas have had at least 2 feet of snow. Big White is 65% open, Silver Star 90% and Sun Peaks 72% on 3-4 foot bases. The Banff areas were lagging until last week, but are now closer to average. Some advanced terrain is not likely to open until after the holidays with current base depths in the 2-3 foot range.

Area

Season Snow

Pct. of Normal

Pct. of Area Open

Lake Louise

52

107%

50%

Sunshine

52

78%

62%

Revelstoke

102

91%

92%

Kicking Horse

92

119%

71%

Whitewater

112

115%

72%

Red Mt.

86

123%

est. 50%

Fernie

130

141%

93%

Castle Mt.

80

117%

70%

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 thre was some rain up to 8,000 feet but there has been 2+ feet of snow in the past week throughout the region, which is continuing its strong start. Big Sky is 63% open.

Area

Season Snow

Pct. of Normal

Pct. of Area Open

Whitefish

91

113%

83%

Bridger

99

138%

90%

Grand Targhee

173

154%

100%

Jackson Hole

160

165%

95%

Schweitzer

96

139%

50%

Brundage

91

115%

100%

Sun Valley

72

146%

90%

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. These areas have 5-6 foot bases. Other Wasatch areas have bases in the 4 foot range with some but not all advanced terrain open. Last week's snow was high density but rain reached only to 8,000 feet.

Area

Season Snow

Pct. of Normal

Pct. of Area Open

Alta

164

132%

100%

Snowbird

170

161%

95%

Brighton/Solitude

151

129%

95%

Park City

93

129%

71%

Snowbasin

92

127%

47%

Brian Head

86

118%

92%

Northern and Central Colorado: This region is 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.

Area

Season Snow

Pct. of Normal

Pct. of Area Open

Beaver Creek

88

104%

72%

Breckenridge

157

215%

83%

Copper Mt.

122

171%

84%

Loveland

135.5

164%

71%

Steamboat

128

134%

88%

Vail

137

145%

97%

Winter Park

96

103%

81%


Southern and Western Colorado: Snowfall has been close to average along the western part of I-70 but somewhat below average in southern Colorado. Wolf Creek is fully open but its base of 2 feet is less than half normal for this time. Purgatory is 45% open. Taos is only 7% open and Arizona and New Mexico should be avoided until they get substantial snow.

Area

Season Snow

Pct. of Normal

Pct. of Area Open

Aspen

59

102%

81%

Gothic Snow Lab

105

126%

N/A

Crested Butte

65

113%

26%

Telluride

59

93%

10%

Wolf Creek

77

87%

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 are slowly improving with 2-3 feet new snow in early December. More is expected this week but it rained on Monday so open terrain is still limited. Current percents open: Sunday River 32%, Sugarloaf 22%, Okemo 42%, Stratton 49%, Whiteface 34%, Hunter 71%, Tremblant 24%, Ste. Anne 31%. 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)

54

80%

16%

Stowe (Mansfield Stake)

33

55%

23%

Sugarbush

40

69%

22%

Killington

43

78%

26%

Cannon Mt.

33

109%

40%

Le Massif

64

107%

17%

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