2016-17 California Detail

Updated August 7, 2017

Mammoth had up to 3 feet of snow in mid-October over 10,000 feet but mostly rain below that. The scheduled Nov. 10 opening was sketchy on Broadway but some of the top and face of 3 were open. There was 1-2 feet of late November snow plus Chair 2 opened for Thanksgiving on manmade. Chairs 4, 5 and 10 opened Dec. 1. 12 inches fell in early December at Main Lodge and at least twice that up high. Canyon/Eagle opened Dec. 14 on mostly manmade but the Dec. 15-16 storm dumped 3-4 feet, resulting in full operation Dec. 18. Another 17 inches fell Dec. 23-24. Mammoth got 141 inches from January 3-12 despite rain rising to 10,000 feet on January 8. A further 104 inches fell from Jan. 19-24. The 245 inch total for the month rivals January 1969 as the snowiest in the history of the ski area. First half of February snow totaled 83 inches and second half of February 85 inches. With base depths of 16-29 feet at the end of February, a July close was announced, plus Canyon/Eagle were open to April 23. After a foot of snow during the first week of March, the widespread western warmup bought spring conditions to all but the upper north facing steeps. There were two feet of snow in late March, 3.5 feet April 6-8 and another 2 feet April 14-19. Mostly spring conditions prevailed since then, though there were a scattered 8 inches in May. Race camps were booked through late July and Mammoth closed August 6, second latest to August 13 in 1995.

Southern California's 2016-17 season can be compared to the past 40 years in History of Southern California Snow Conditions. 2016-17 was the first year since 2010-11 with above average snowfall, but the season overall was mediocre due to excessive rain. This season had a record 13 rain days instead of snow in the SoCal ski areas, well beyond the prior record of 9 days in 1996-97.

November: snowmaking had a late start so the limited openings were just after Thanksgiving with about 5 inches natural snow.
December: Early December was fairly good for snowmaking but the December 15 storm was mostly rain, ending with 4 inches snow. It rained again all day on Dec. 21. The Dec. 23 storm was all snow of 1+ foot, and with the ensuing cold weather for snowmaking, considerably more terrain opened within a few days. There was rain and a few inches of snow at year-end.
January: It rained four days during early January before finally snowing 2 feet January 12-13. Then from January 19-24 the SoCal areas got 5-6 feet of snow, resulting in the weekend of Jan. 28-29 being the first with full operation of terrain at all SoCal ski areas since 2011.
February: Unfortunately it rained again Feb. 3, 6, 7 and 10 with only one inch of snow, seriously degrading ungroomed terrain. About 2 feet of snow fell Feb. 17-18, but again there was some rain a couple of days later.
March: March was nearly all warm and sunny, with increasing terrain closures during the second half of the month. The only March precipitation was rain on March 22.
April: April 9 was the last day of SoCal skiing at Snow Summit, Snow Valley and Mt. Baldy. Sustained warm weather prevented any SoCal areas from remaining open for the ensuing Easter week.

I consider the local areas worth visiting according to the following criteria (2015-16 summary):

Snow Summit: The Wall, Log Chute, Chair 10 and lower Westridge open. Miracle Mile and Summit Run opened first, with upper Westridge opening Dec. 1. Log Chute and chair 7 opened by Dec. 7. Chair 10 opened Dec. 26 and the Wall Dec. 27. 70+% open until 97% after the January 12-13 storm. 100% open through mid-March, declining to 50% open end of March. About 30% open on April 9 closing day.

Bear Mt: Silver Mt. and/or Bear Peak open. The Bear Express and some park features have been open since Nov. 26. Silver opened in early December. Bear Peak opened Dec. 27. 90+% open at New Year's. 100% from Jan. 24 through mid-March, declining to 70% open end of March, closed April 2.

Snow Valley: Slide Peak open. 20% open Dec. 1, 40% open in early January, 65% open for MLK. 100% open from Jan. 28. 97% open March 16 declining to 35% end of March. About 25% open on April 9 closing day.

Mountain High: East as well as West open. West opened a few lower runs Nov. 26 and Chisholm by Dec. 1. West was about 1/4 open until the Dec. 23 storm. West was fully open for a couple of days but soon fell back to 1/4 open. The January 12-13 storm opened all of West and about 1/3 of East. 100% open East and West Jan. 25. In early February East's main lift needed repair, and by the time it was done the rain had degraded the snow so East could not reopen. West fell back to 58% open in mid-February. East was briefly open again over President's weekend but closed again. West was 71% open at the end of February but declined to 35% open mid-March and closed March 26.

Mt. Baldy and Mt. Waterman: A natural snow base of at least 4 feet. The Dec. 23 storm was the first meaningful natural snow but most of that was degraded by rain over the next 2+ weeks. On Dec. 26 Baldy opened its beginner area and a couple of groomers on Thunder. Perhaps half of Baldy was open after the January 12-13 storm but on a thin base. Full operation by Jan. 28. Waterman opened weekends starting Jan. 28. Baldy and Waterman remained 80+% well covered through February with the base on north slopes augmented by the Feb. 17-18 storm. On cooler days much terrain was closed for icy conditions. March 10-12 was Waterman's last weekend. Baldy's main runs on Thunder were open daily to March 20, then selected weekend dates until April 9.

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