2017-18 California Detail
Updated May 21, 2018
Mammoth had minimal snow from an early November storm but was hit hard by an atmospheric river during the second week of November. There was a mix of rain plus 27 inches of snow at Main Lodge, over 5 feet up top and perhaps 3-4 feet on chairs 3 and 5. A light drizzle and warm weather brought spring conditions for Thanksgivng week. A late November storm of 11-22 inches resurfaced the open terrain and opened some backside chair 14 runs. 100+mph upslope winds stripped some top of the mountain entry points Dec. 4, but mid-mountain and Main/Stump base area runs remained in excellent condition. Snowmaking expanded to open Canyon/Eagle on Dec. 13, and chairs 9 and 22 also opened in mid-December. Mammoth was 70% open for the second half of December but it only snowed 4 inches. Thus the holiday crowds brought up some rocks on the early season base, though groomed skiing was mostly still good. It snowed 2-3 feet Jan. 5-9 with some rain as high as 10,000 feet. This finally opened Dave's and Climax, and the upper steep terrain attained a fairly normal 4-7 foot snowpack. Ungroomed terrain on chairs 9, 25 and 15 still needed more snow to open. A foot of snow during the third week of January refreshed surfaces but did not open the remaining terrain. The dry first two weeks of February melted out some thin areas in sunny exposures and exposed some rocks on steep entries up top. However the upper steeps and chairs 3 and 5 retained winter conditions and the groomers were excellent. Surfaces were refreshed with 18 inches in the second half of February. The storm of March 1-4 dumped 51 inches at the Main Lodge patrol site, opening the remaining 15% of the mountain and ensuring full operation to the Canyon/Eagle close in mid-April. The March 14-17 storm snowed 38 inches and the March 21-23 storm 54 inches. Base depths reached a March average 11 feet ensuring a normal spring season. The rare storm of April 6-7 rained to the top, so the entire mountain melt/froze. 6 inches new snow a week later restored surfaces. A fairly normal spring has ensued, and Mammoth just announced it will close June 17, though the Mill/Stump area will likely close Memorial Day.
Southern California's 2017-18 season can be compared to the past 42 years in History of Southern California Snow Conditions. This season was third worst in SoCal history to 1983-84 and 2013-14. 2017-18 was similar to 2013-14 except that in 2014 the late season rain degrading conditions came about 3 weeks earlier than in 2018. Season snowfall was 39 inches in 2017-18 vs. 29 in 2013-14 and the record low of 12 in 1983-84. 2001-02 also had only 39 inches, but it was much colder, so Big Bear with snowmaking had a normal 3+ months close to full operation. No area got more than 50% open in 2013-14 or 2017-18.
November: November was warm with record SoCal heat over Thanksgiving. Snowmaking began in late November.
December: The first openings were Mt. High West on Dec. 6 and the Big Bear areas on Dec. 8. Snowmaking got Big Bear close to half open by Christmas, but no further progress was made this season.
January: It rained for a day before the season's first snow of 6-8 inches on January 9. There was an additional 4 inches Jan. 20-21.
February: The first half of February was warm and dry, so the cold weather and 15 scattered inches of snow in the second half of February only served to restore surfaces on existing open runs.
March: The early March storm had little moisture by the time it reached the mountains and thus snowed only 3-4 inches. Again, no new terrain opened, nor after the 5 inches March 15 and 17. The March 21-22 storm rained 2-3 inches in the SoCal mountains with no snow, so ensuing conditions were marginal.
April: Only Snow Valley and Snow Summit were open to April 8.
I consider the local areas worth visiting according to the following criteria (2017-18 summary):
Snow Summit: The Wall, Log Chute, Chair 10 and lower Westridge open. Summit Run, Miracle Mile and the beginner area open Dec. 8. 23% open Dec. 16. 48% open at Christmas with Chairs 7 & 9 plus Log Chute and Westridge, but no new runs opened after that. 40% open to April 8. 2014 and 2018 are the only seasons Wall and Olympic have not opened since snowmaking was installed in 1979.
Bear Mt: Silver Mt. and/or Bear Peak open. Bear Express open Dec. 8. 20% open Dec. 16. 43% open at Christmas including Silver Mt. Bear added a couple of trails to reach 48% open in February, but Silver closed in early March. 44% open during Easter Week, closed April 1.
Snow Valley: Slide Peak open. 10% open by mid-December, 23% open at Christmas. Snow Valley remained in that range all season and is 21% open to April 8.
Mountain High: East as well as West open. Chisholm and the base area of West open Dec. 6. West 16% open Dec. 16, 29% at Christmas. West never progressed past that 29%, hung on a week after the late March rain and closed March 28. East never opened in 2017-18.
Mt. Baldy and Mt. Waterman: A natural snow base of at least 4 feet.
Closed for skiing all season. Baldy used its limited snowmaking for its tubing park in 2017-18.
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