2015-16 Ski Season Progress Report as of December 31, 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 week before Christmas brought widespread storms to all western regions, with heaviest concentrations on the West Coast and in Utah. The West Coast and western Canada had an excellent holiday season, with all other western regions average or better. Christmas Week had scattered snow in most regions. Early January is expected to be clear with a southern El Nino influenced storm track developing by the second week of January.

All snowfall totals are since November 1 and at mid-mountain locations where possible. "Mid-estimates" are for areas that only post upper info online, and apply a long term mid-to-upper ratio to those posted figures.

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 the second week of December, dropping 2-4 feet and opening over half of terrain at most areas. The week before Christmas brought another 3-4 feet. A final December storm Christmas Eve dropped 2 feet more, bringing all areas close to full operation with base depths of 4-6 feet. Most Tahoe areas had more snow by Christmas 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

187

135%

92%

Alpine Meadows

156.5

145%

96%

Northstar (mid estimate)

152

162%

94%

Mt. Rose

165

159%

100%

Heavenly (upper)

175

150%

98%

Kirkwood

198

140%

100%

Mammoth

129

119%

100%

Southern Cal

23

87%

0-97%

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. The week before Christmas brought another 3-6 feet with another 1-2 feet during the holidays. Base depths average 6-9 feet, with 118-153 inches at Mt. Baker.

Area

Season Snow

Pct. of Normal

Pct. of Area Open

Alyeska (mid estimate)

197

109%

79%

Whistler

199

124%

100%

Crystal Mt.

231

160%

100%

Stevens Pass

189

110%

100%

Mt. Hood

198

123%

100%

Mt. Bachelor

231.5

164%

100%

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. Snowfall during the second half of December ranged from under a foot at Banff to 3+ feet in the Kootenays. Base depths average 4 feet, with over 5 feet at Big White, Whitewater and Revelstoke. Sun Peaks and Silver Star have been 95+% open since mid-December.

Area

Season Snow

Pct. of Normal

Pct. of Area Open

Big White

169

155%

100%

Lake Louise

101

156%

94%

Sunshine

121

132%

65%

Revelstoke

176

126%

90%

Kicking Horse

147

149%

95%

Whitewater

180.5

129%

96%

Red Mt.

114

128%

95%

Fernie

142

106%

85%

Castle Mt.

129

136%

96%

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 first half of December Northwest storms dumped 4+ feet in Idaho but lesser amounts in Montana and Wyoming. The week before Christmas dumped 3-4 feet upon the entire region, bringing base depths up to 4-6 feet. Christmas Week brought 1-2 feet of snow to the Tetons and near the Canadian border, with less than a foot at areas in between.

Area

Season Snow

Pct. of Normal

Pct. of Area Open

Whitefish

139

120%

100%

Bridger

117

117%

100%

Grand Targhee

156

96%

100%

Jackson Hole (mid)

116

88%

78%

Schweitzer

125

126%

100%

Brundage

166

154%

100%

Sun Valley

111.5

162%

97%

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, 3-5 feet fell the week before Christmas, and another foot over Christmas. Base depths are 5+ feet in the Cottonwoods and 3-4 feet elsewhere. In the far south Brian Head is fully open on a 50-inch base.

Area

Season Snow

Pct. of Normal

Pct. of Area Open

Alta

162

92%

95%

Snowbird

170

107%

73%

Brighton/Solitude

165

100%

93%

Park City (mid estimate)

103

107%

76%

Snowbasin

118

114%

97%

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. December snowfall has been consistent each week, totalling about 4-5 feet at most areas but 8 feet at Steamboat. Base depths average 3-4 feet. A-Basin is 86% open.

Area

Season Snow

Pct. of Normal

Pct. of Area Open

Beaver Creek

119

107%

92%

Breckenridge

112

107%

75%

Copper Mt.

89

94%

69%

Keystone

114

148%

94%

Loveland

126

116%

71%

Steamboat

165

131%

100%

Vail

117

96%

98%

Winter Park

137

116%

91%

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 were also stronger in the southern (2-3 feet with 4+ at Wolf Creek) than central (1-2 feet) mountains. 2-3 feet of snow fell during the week before Christmas and an average 2 feet (4 feet at Wolf Creek) during Christmas Week. Taos is 91% open on a 76-inch base and had its second best holiday season in over 20 years.

Area

Season Snow

Pct. of Normal

Pct. of Area Open

Aspen/Snowmass

86

110%

96%

Gothic Snow Lab

124

110%

N/A

Crested Butte

71

90%

34%

Telluride

151

176%

92%

Purgatory

134

161%

100%

Wolf Creek

253

188%

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 sustained unseasonably warm temperatures, terrain open at Christmas was the worst on record. Terrain open has increased moderately in Quebec with a foot of snow during Christmas Week but only slightly in New England: Okemo 22%, Stratton 13%, Hunter 14%, Sugarloaf 19%, Sunday River 30%, Tremblant 35%, Mt. St. Anne 54%.

Area

Season Snow

Pct. of Normal

Pct. of Area Open

Jay Peak (mid estimate)

31

30%

12%

Stowe

26

23%

22%

Sugarbush

26

29%

21%

Killington

10

12%

16%

Whiteface

29

44%

19%

Le Massif

44

54%

58%

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