2015-16 Ski Season Progress Report as of December 16, 2015

October was warmer and drier than normal in most ski regions, but there were widespread small storms through most of the West each week in November, contributing to the usual early openings on snowmaking. However, only areas in western Canada saw major storms and had much more terrain than normal open. Wolf Creek was also in full operation since mid-November with much more snow than other western US areas. The Pacific Northwest had a series of major storms in early December, spreading in lesser amounts into adjacent regions. The Northwest and western Canada are set for an excellent holiday season, with other western regions closer to average.

All snowfall totals are since November 1 and at mid-mountian locations where possible.

California: The first storm started with snow levels over 9,000 feet but eventually lowered. Later storms were colder and snowed as low as Lake Tahoe but not yet enough to build a solid natural base. Mammoth and Mt. Rose opened Nov. 5 and several other areas opened mid-November. Mammoth had much more snow up high during the first storm and thus had by far the most open terrain in California in the early season. The Northwest storms moved into the Sierra last week, dropping 2-4 feet and opening over half of terrain at most areas. Base depths are 3-4 feet and some Tahoe areas have now had more snow than in all of last season. 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

110

112%

33%

Alpine Meadows

89

136%

65%

Northstar (mid estimate)

90

119%

50%

Mt. Rose

105

143%

90%

Heavenly (upper)

97

116%

65%

Kirkwood

119

118%

54%

Mammoth

83

109%

86%

Southern Cal

18

104%

0-50%

Pacific Northwest: The November storms had variable snow levels and were strongest to the north. Thus only Whistler had extensive terrain open. There were 3 major storms in early December, totalling 6-8 feet of snow except for lower elevations that got rain during the second storm. Base depths average 4-6 feet, with 3 feet at some low elevations and 80-114 inches at Mt. Baker.

Area

Season Snow

Pct. of Normal

Pct. of Area Open

Alyeska (mid estimate)

112

89%

50%

Whistler

156

132%

87%

Crystal Mt.

133

127%

86%

Stevens Pass

113

91%

98%

Mt. Hood

104

89%

69%

Mt. Bachelor

138.5

155%

55%

Canadian Rockies and Interior B.C.: The November storms were strongest here. Some areas near the US border had some rain/snow mix like the Northwest, but other areas were far above average in both snow and open terrain. The December Northwest storms pushed into the region, with snowfall ranging from 2 feet at the Banff areas to 5 feet in the Kootenay areas. Base depths average 4 feet, with over 5 feet at Big White, Whitewater and Revelstoke. Sun Peaks and Silver Star are over 95% open.

Area

Season Snow

Pct. of Normal

Pct. of Area Open

Big White

128

155%

100%

Lake Louise

93

186%

88%

Sunshine

109

158%

59%

Revelstoke

148

136%

89%

Kicking Horse

138

181%

90%

Whitewater

149

148%

90%

Red Mt.

84

119%

90%

Fernie

98

102%

35%

Castle Mt.

91

133%

78%

U. S. Northern Rockies: November snow was below average but Targhee as usual had some of the most terrain open in North America in early season. The December Northwest storms dumped 4+ feet in Idaho, bringing base depths to 3-5 feet, and lesser amounts in Montana and Wyoming, which are still mostly below average.

Area

Season Snow

Pct. of Normal

Pct. of Area Open

Whitefish

86

103%

36%

Bridger

69

95%

90%

Grand Targhee

89

77%

93%

Jackson Hole (mid)

64

66%

47%

Schweitzer

64

89%

45%

Brundage

109

140%

94%

Sun Valley

63.5

126%

83%

Utah: Most of the November storms split before reaching Utah, which thus had substantially below average snowfall plus a dry first week of December. The Northwest storms dropped 2-3 feet of snow during the second week of December, bringing Cottonwood area base depths close to 4 feet. Base depths are less than 3 feet at other Wasatch areas and holiday skiing will be limited at those places without substantially more snow. In the far south Brian Head got 3+ feet and is 75% open.

Area

Season Snow

Pct. of Normal

Pct. of Area Open

Alta

94

71%

40%

Snowbird

94

81%

20%

Brighton/Solitude

82

66%

41%

Park City group

60

84%

13%

Snowbasin

52

67%

15%

Northern and Central Colorado: October was much warmer than usual so snowmaking was delayed until the last week and Loveland and A-Basin each opened a snowmaking run October 29. The consistent modest November snowfalls accumulated base depths of 2+ feet with mostly average terrain openings (Keystone the positive exception) for early season. First half of December snowfall has been 2+ feet at most areas, with more at Steamboat and Winter Park. Base depths average 3 feet. A-Basin is 45% open.

Area

Season Snow

Pct. of Normal

Pct. of Area Open

Beaver Creek

85

101%

68%

Breckenridge

83

110%

32%

Copper Mt.

69

96%

34%

Keystone

92

158%

86%

Loveland

99

121%

28%

Steamboat

104

109%

70%

Vail

80

87%

78%

Winter Park

106.5

114%

67%

Southern and Western Colorado: The central Colorado mountains had a below average November, while the southern mountains and New Mexico were above average. Wolf Creek's base reached 50 inches by the end of November. The second week of December storms have also been stronger in the southern (2-3 feet with 4+ at Wolf Creek) than central (1-2 feet) mountains. Taos has a 42-inch base and is 66% open, double the average open terrain for mid-December.

Area

Season Snow

Pct. of Normal

Pct. of Area Open

Aspen/Snowmass

51

87%

56%

Gothic Snow Lab

47

56%

N/A

Crested Butte

34

58%

19%

Telluride

92

143%

57%

Purgatory

68

109%

58%

Wolf Creek

162

179%

100%

Northeast: Mid-October cold allowed Killington and Sunday River to open first in North America on October 19. After a week of skiing the snow melted and snowmaking did not resume for nearly 3 weeks. With minimal natural snow and unseasonably warm temperatures, terrain open in mid-December is the lowest of the 13 seasons for which I have records : Okemo 13%, Stratton 9%, Sugarloaf 7%, Sunday River 19%, Tremblant 16%, Mt. St. Anne 4%.

Area

Season Snow

Pct. of Normal

Pct. of Area Open

Jay Peak (mid estimate)

11

16%

4%

Stowe

12

15%

18%

Sugarbush

14

23%

9%

Killington

4

7%

12%

Whiteface

12

25%

8%

Le Massif

15

27%

12/19

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