2010-11 Ski Season Progress Report as of December 23, 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 from Thanksgiving into mid-December was primarily in the Pacific Northwest and U.S. Northern Rockies but also in northern Utah and Colorado. During the 3rd week of December an exceptionally powerful storm pounded California for the whole week and moved on to Utah and much of Colorado. Overall this will be the best holiday ski season since 1996-97 with just a very few areas in limited operation.

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. Last week's storm dropped 5-7 feet of snow at Tahoe areas and over 10 feet at Mammoth. Sierra areas are fully open for the holidays with base depths of 5-12+ feet. Farther south it rained for 4 days in Southern California with 1-2 feet of snow at the end of the storm. Arizona Snowbowl will open this weekend after 3-4 feet of wet snow. 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

240

209%

95%

Northstar

192

247%

96%

Mt. Rose

186

209%

100%

Kirkwood

304

255%

100%

Mammoth

242.5

266%

100%

Southern Cal

24

111%

0-80%

Arizona Snowbowl

46

79%

Dec. 25

Pacific Northwest: Before Thanksgiving Oregon got off to a strong start while Washington State and Whistler were slightly above average. From Thanksgiving to mid-December there was 5-7 feet of snow throughout the region with fluctuating temps but ending with all snow. Mt. Baker and Hood Meadows have been 90% open since Dec. 1. The Whistler alpine opened Dec. 4. Northwest areas are in full operation for the holidays on 4-7 foot bases.

Area

Season Snow

Pct. of Normal

Pct. of Area Open

Whistler

184

136%

95%

Crystal Mt.

153

127%

100%

Stevens Pass

132

92%

100%

Mt. Bachelor

215

180%

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 early season. Most western Canadian ski areas have had 3-4 feet of snow in December and have holiday base depths in the 4 foot range. Big White is 66% open, Silver Star 95% and Sun Peaks 96%. The Banff areas have had only 2 feet of December snow and base depths are less than 3 feet, so some advanced terrain is not likely to open until well after the holidays.

Area

Season Snow

Pct. of Normal

Pct. of Area Open

Lake Louise

52

92%

65%

Sunshine

56

71%

65%

Revelstoke

108

82%

100%

Kicking Horse

94

105%

85%

Whitewater

124

105%

100%

Red Mt.

99

117%

100%

Fernie

136

122%

100%

Castle Mt.

84

102%

75%

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 there was some rain up to 8,000 feet but there has been 4-5 feet of snow in December throughout the region, which is continuing its strong start. Big Sky is 100% open for Christmas. Holiday base depths are 6+ feet in the Tetons and 4-5 feet elsewhere.

Area

Season Snow

Pct. of Normal

Pct. of Area Open

Whitefish

101

104%

100%

Bridger

100

116%

100%

Grand Targhee

199

145%

100%

Jackson Hole

185

161%

98%

Schweitzer

104

124%

100%

Brundage

103

108%

100%

Sun Valley

91.5

155%

100%

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. The storm from California last week raised the snow level as high as 8,000 feet but still dumped 6 feet in the Cottonwood Canyons and 4-5 feet elsewhere. Holiday base depths are 8+ feet in the Cottonwood Canyons and 5-7 feet elsewhere.

Area

Season Snow

Pct. of Normal

Pct. of Area Open

Alta

234

156%

100%

Snowbird

237

187%

100%

Brighton/Solitude

245

174%

95%

Park City

150

173%

94%

Snowbasin

133

153%

79%

Brian Head

138

158%

100%

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. Last week's storm added an average of 3 feet throughout the region and holiday base depths are 4-5 feet.

Area

Season Snow

Pct. of Normal

Pct. of Area Open

Beaver Creek

114

115%

77%

Breckenridge

194

226%

92%

Copper Mt.

149

178%

97%

Loveland

174

179%

81%

Steamboat

165

147%

98%

Vail

169

155%

100%

Winter Park

122

114%

91%


Southern and Western Colorado: Early season snowfall was close to average along the western part of I-70 but somewhat below average in southern Colorado. Wolf Creek was fully open early but its mid-December base of 2 feet was less than half normal for that time. But last week's storm was huge at many of these areas: 94 inches at Gothic, 93 at Wolf Creek, 69 at Purgatory and 56 at Crested Butte. Crested Butte's extreme terrain should open soon with a 5 foot base. Aspen and Telluride got 2+ feet last week. Taos got less than a foot and is only 11% open. New Mexico areas are mostly well under half open and should be avoided until they get substantial snow.

Area

Season Snow

Pct. of Normal

Pct. of Area Open

Aspen/Snowmass

85

125%

87%

Gothic Snow Lab

202

205%

N/A

Crested Butte

122

180%

49%

Telluride

85

114%

38%

Wolf Creek

171

164%

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 slowly improved with 2-3 feet new snow in early December. After rain on Dec. 13 it has remained cold with 2 feet more snow so more terrain will be open for Christmas with good surfaces. Current percents open: Sunday River 49%, Sugarloaf 55%, Okemo 60%, Stratton 74%, Whiteface 64%, Hunter 83%, Tremblant 63%, Ste. Anne 60%. 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)

76

87%

79%

Stowe (Mansfield Stake)

47.5

66%

40%

Sugarbush

64

88%

55%

Killington

51

74%

49%

Cannon Mt.

53

135%

53%

Le Massif

76

102%

58%

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