2010-11 Ski Season Progress Report as of December 31, 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. Christmas week snowfall was highest in the Pacific Northwest but all regions have had some new snow. Overall this is 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. The 3rd week of December 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 and have had 2 more storms totalling 2-3 feet during Christmas week. Farther south it rained for 4 days in Southern California with 1-3 feet of snow at the end of the big storm. Arizona Snowbowl opened Christmas Day and has had 8 feet of snow in the second half of December. 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

280

206%

100%

Northstar

223

242%

100%

Mt. Rose

219

207%

95%

Kirkwood

331

235%

100%

Mammoth

290

275%

100%

Southern Cal

42

159%

50-95%

Arizona Snowbowl

117

170%

100%

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 5-8 foot bases. There has been 3+ feet of snow during the holiday week and 5 feet at Whistler and Mt. Bachelor.

Area

Season Snow

Pct. of Normal

Pct. of Area Open

Whistler

245

155%

100%

Crystal Mt.

192

135%

100%

Stevens Pass

165

95%

100%

Mt. Bachelor

272

194%

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 81% open, Silver Star 99% and Sun Peaks 100%. The Banff areas have had less than 3 feet of December snow and base depths are about 3 feet, so some advanced terrain is not likely to open until well after the holidays. Christmas week snowfall has averaged about a foot throughout the region.

Area

Season Snow

Pct. of Normal

Pct. of Area Open

Lake Louise

59

92%

69%

Sunshine

65

72%

88%

Revelstoke

123

81%

100%

Kicking Horse

106.5

104%

90%

Whitewater

146

105%

100%

Red Mt.

113.5

114%

100%

Fernie

144

110%

100%

Castle Mt.

97

100%

90%

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 was 4-5 feet of snow by Christmas throughout the region, continuing the strong start. Big Sky was 100% open by Christmas. Holiday base depths are 6+ feet in the Tetons and 4-5 feet elsewhere. There has been 1+ foot of snow Christmas week, topped by 3 feet at Brundage.

Area

Season Snow

Pct. of Normal

Pct. of Area Open

Whitefish

119

104%

100%

Bridger

109

108%

100%

Grand Targhee

220

136%

100%

Jackson Hole

205

155%

100%

Schweitzer

129

131%

100%

Brundage

141

125%

100%

Sun Valley

98.5

143%

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 the 3rd week of December 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 9+ feet in the Cottonwood Canyons and 6-8 feet elsewhere after another 2-3 feet Christmas week.

Area

Season Snow

Pct. of Normal

Pct. of Area Open

Alta

262

150%

100%

Snowbird

264

179%

100%

Brighton/Solitude

273

166%

99%

Park City

188

186%

96%

Snowbasin

159

156%

94%

Brian Head

174

171%

100%

Northern and Central Colorado: This region got 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. The 3rd week of December storm added an average of 3 feet throughout the region and holiday base depths are 4-5 feet. Average one foot new snow Christmas week.

Area

Season Snow

Pct. of Normal

Pct. of Area Open

Beaver Creek

132

116%

96%

Breckenridge

203

205%

99%

Copper Mt.

157

163%

100%

Loveland

183

164%

86%

Steamboat

184

142%

99%

Vail

187

151%

100%

Winter Park

128

105%

92%


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 the 3rd week of December storm was huge at many of these areas: 94 inches at Gothic, 93 at Wolf Creek, 69 at Purgatory and 56 at Crested Butte. 60% of Crested Butte's extreme terrain has opened gradually duing Christmas week. Aspen and Telluride got about 4 feet during the second half of December. Taos missed most of the big storm but had 3 feet Christmas week. However Taos is still only 34% open on a 3-4 foot base. Many New Mexico areas are under half open and should be avoided until they get more snow.

Area

Season Snow

Pct. of Normal

Pct. of Area Open

Aspen/Snowmass

104

132%

87%

Gothic Snow Lab

234

202%

N/A

Crested Butte

146

186%

83%

Telluride

104

121%

69%

Wolf Creek

208

173%

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 remained mostly cold with 2+ feet more snow so more terrain opened by Christmas with good surfaces. As usual the big Christmas storm along the East Coast only brought modest snows to upper New England. Current percents open: Sunday River 75%, Sugarloaf 90%, Okemo 85%, Stratton 87%, Whiteface 65%, Hunter 95%, Tremblant 86%, Ste. Anne 80%. 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)

84

79%

81%

Stowe (Mansfield Stake)

50

60%

60%

Sugarbush

66

76%

75%

Killington

66

81%

71%

Cannon Mt.

85

177%

92%

Le Massif

78

87%

73%

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