1998-99 California Detail

Updated June 5, 1999

Mammoth had exactly average snow through March, but the 79 inches was the highest April since 1978. The April storms restored powder (see my Southland Ski Server report from April 9) and packed powder conditions. Winter conditions prevailed through most of April, and Mammoth will close June 13.

Southern California's mediocre 1998-99 season can be compared to the past 23 years in History of Southern California Snow Conditions.
November: The season had its usual limited opening at Thanksgiving on snowmaking at Snow Summit, Bear Mt. and Mt. High.
December: The only natural snow fell in a 1/2 to 1 foot storm the second week. As usual, Snow Summit's snowmaking got the majority of the area open first, by Dec. 12. Mt. High, Bear Mt. and Snow Valley were also more than half open by Christmas.
January: The areas with snowmaking hung on with spring conditions for the first 3 dry weeks. It snowed 1-3 feet in late January, opening some but not all natural snow runs. All the terrain with snowmaking was in decent shape at the end of January.
February: With just a few minor flurries, all the natural snow runs went back to the rocks in a week or two. Skiing on the snowmaking terrain was decent for the first half of the month, but began to deteriorate with warm weather in late February.
March: With continued warm weather in March, even some of the runs with snowmaking closed, in order to concentrate maintenance on those remaining. By the last weekend of March, conditions were marginal, with even Snow Summit reporting puddles and bare spots. Up to a foot of snow fell at the end of March to keep the season alive.
April: Three more storms totalling 3-4 feet of snow fell in the first week and half of April. After just a few days of good conditions, a one-week heat wave wiped out most of the snow, closing all areas except a few runs of Mt. High West by April 18.

I consider the local areas worth visiting according to the following criteria (1998-99 summary):
Snow Summit: The Wall, Log Chute and the full length of the Westridge Terrain Park open. Wall and all of Westridge opened Dec. 12. 90+% of runs were open from late January to mid-March, and during the April storms.
Bear Mt: Silver Mt. and/or Bear Peak open .The Silver and Bear Peak chairs opened at Christmas but not all runs. Bear Peak closed in mid-March. About 2/3 to 1/2 of the area remained open until April 18, including one run on Silver.
Snow Valley: Slide Peak open. Most of the lower mountain was open from Christmas to mid-March and in early April, but never Slide Peak.
Mountain High: East as well as West open. Goldrush and Sundance, the main top to bottom runs on East, opened Dec. 11. After the 2 feet new snow in late January most runs with snowmaking opened. As of March 1 the East closed in order to concentrate snowmaking and grooming efforts on the West. In fairness, I must point out that the prior management would not have even tried to open East with the weather we have had this year, as they did not in 1996. With the April snow, all runs on West were open for a couple of weeks, with the terrain park hanging in there until April 25.
Mt. Baldy and Mt. Waterman: A natural snow base of at least 4 feet. These areas got up to 3 feet in late January, but with zero natural snow base underneath. This snow disappeared by March, but they received about 4 feet in April.
A few groomed runs on Baldy's Thunder Mt. were open from late January to late February, but off-piste skiing was marginal even right after the January storms according to skier reports. Baldy reopened April 8 under marginal conditions, but the next two storms brought good coverage (3-4 feet) to Thunder Mt. April 12 was Baldy's single quality day of off-piste skiing in 1998-99, before the heat wave turned it into slop and the area closed again on April 18.
Waterman was only open the last weekend of January and the second weekend of April.

1998-99 was perhaps the season in which snowmaking had the greatest impact upon SoCal skiing. Without it, there would have been about 2 weekends of skiing, as evidenced by Mt. Waterman above. There were only a couple of days of drizzle, so the base was never wiped out by a downpour of rain, as in 1996-97.

I highly recommend Southland Ski Server skier-submitted reports for local conditions.

Return to 1998-99 Ski Season Analysis for North America.