This region is famous for its consistent heavy precipitation. The Cascade volcanic peaks receive the most snow in the United States and have permanent glaciers and snowfields above 7,000 feet. Snowfall at Mt. Rainier National Parks Paradise ranger station has averaged a whopping 670 inches since 1960. Mt. Baker ski area's snowfall is comparable to this, but from a skier's perspective the high water content of the snow means a reliable early season base but doesn't translate to ecstatic powder. Altitude is the most important factor in determining snow conditions in this region because winter rain becomes increasingly frequent as elevation decreases. Alaska resembles other Northwest areas in low altitude and high snowfall, but generally colder temperatures keep winter meltback to a minimum.
There are two tables below: The first contains all the statistics while
the second contains summary information plus comments and analysis.
Color-coded areas link to my detailed Resort Guide published in Inside Tracks or First Tracks Online.
Explanation of Column Headings
Home Page and Other Regions
|PACIFIC||Altitude||Season||Standard||6+ Inch||High Mths||Low Mths||Maximum||Direction of Exposure|
|NORTHWEST||Range||Average||Deviation||Powder Days||GE 90 in.||LT 30 in.||Base Depth||North||East||West||South|
|Mt. Baker, Wash. 4,300||3,550-5,050||656||176||27.1%||66%||4%||193||50%||25%||25%||0%|
|Crystal Mtn 1, Wash. 4,400||4,000-7,100||336||105||13.7%||22%||17%||74||30%||50%||0%||20%|
|Crystal Mtn 2, Wash. 6,100||4,000-7,100||414||110||16.8%||29%||8%||108||30%||50%||0%||20%|
|Mt. Hood Meadows, Ore. 5,400||4,523-7,300||453||128||18.4%||35%||8%||133||35%||50%||0%||15%|
|Mt. Rainier Paradise, Wash. 5,420||N/A||624||152||25.9%||63%||4%||196||N/A|
|Snoqualmie Pass, Wash.3,000||3,200-5,400||388||115||17.5%||37%||13%||92||10%||40%||40%||10%|
|Stevens Pass, Wash.4,061||3,821-5,800||475||136||19.1%||37%||8%||106||50%||10%||10%||30%|
|Alyeska 1, Alaska 1,500||250-2,750||475||151||20.0%||45%||11%||149||35%||0%||40%||25%|
|Alyeska 2, Alaska 2,750||250-2,750||637||154||25.8%||65%||6%||N/A||35%||0%||40%||25%|
|Thompson Pass (Chugach), AK. 2,450||N/A||438||171||18.3%||43%||18%||N/A||N/A|
|Mt. Bachelor, Ore. 6,350||6,000-9,065||383||114||15.5%||26%||17%||140||50%||20%||20%||10%|
|Crater Lake (Mt. Bailey), Ore. 6,800||5,800-8,400||421||119||17.5%||34%||9%||N/A||360 degree peak|
|Whistler, B.C. 5,413||2,140-7,160||418||90||17.2%||34%||10%||105||55%||2%||40%||3%|
|Blackcomb, B.C. 5,002||2,140-7,420||365||86||14.7%||19%||13%||N/A||30%||0%||55%||15%|
|Whistler Base, B.C. 2,200||2,140-7,160||190||81||8.3%||5%||49%||34||55%||2%||40%||3%|
|Mt. Washington, B. C. 3,926||3,500-5,200||393||105||16.2%||30%||11%||N/A||10%||0%||45%||45%|
|PACIFIC||Altitude||Season||Weather Restrictions, Powder Potential|
|NORTHWEST||Range||Average||and Other Considerations||Best Time to Ski|
|Mt. Baker, Wash. 4,300||3,550-5,050||656||Highest snowfall of any lift-serviced area in North America. 30 years of monthly snowfall records very similar to Mt. Rainier. Prodigious depths of Northwest snow attract off-piste skiers and snowboarders.||Early season for deepest natural snow base of any area.|
|Crystal Mtn 1, Wash. 4,400||4,000-7,100||336||Large backcountry available north and south of patrolled area.||January/February for best combination of coverage and surface conditions.|
|Crystal Mtn 2, Wash. 6,100||4,000-7,100||414||The higher you go, the drier it gets.||As above.|
|Mt. Hood Meadows, Ore. 5,400||4,523-7,300||453||Not well protected, frequent storm closures. Big dumps common but snow quality variable. Excellent base structure preserves snow well into summer. What do you expect in glacier country?||December-February for surface conditions. Timberline in summer after Bachelor closes.|
|Mt. Rainier Paradise, Wash. 5,420||N/A||624||First weather station in the world to record over 1,000 inches snowfall in one year. Used to be a ski area there but sorry, no lifts now! Good ski mountaineering into early summer.||Late spring and summer for mountaineering on glaciers.|
|Snoqualmie Pass, Wash. 3,000||3,200-5,400||388||Good area in a storm, plenty of protected trees.||December/January on high snowfall but low altitude.|
|Stevens Pass, Wash. 4,061||3,821-5,800||475||Big snow and good vertical. Bowls challenging and medium-sized dumps common.||December-March|
|Alyeska, Alaska 1,500||250-2,750||475||Far more snowfall mid-mountain than recorded at bottom (208 inches), which also gets some rain.||February to early April, due to restricted daylight earlier.|
|Alyeska, Alaska 2,750||250-2,750||637||Top of Alyeska lift service rivals Mt. Baker's snowfall. Upper snow is better quality than other Pacific Coast areas.||February to early April, due to restricted daylight earlier.|
|Thompson Pass (Chugach), AK 2,450||N/A||438||Thompson Pass near Valdez is at the base of several ski plane and heliski operations. Snow is denser and more stable than interior B.C., allowing access to more extreme terrain, over 4,000 feet above the pass.||Open late February to late May. Late March through mid-April is best balance of conditions vs. flyable weather.|
|Mt. Bachelor, Ore. 6,350||6,000-9,065||383||Summit chair serving half the terrain and nearly all expert runs is closed for wind or visibility about half of the time before April. Excellent early season reliability: only six years in past 40 with Christmas base depth under 4 feet.||April/May for best spring skiing on continent; 1,700 vertical feet of corn on Summit, 1,300’ of groomed cruisers below. Average December maximum base depth is 75 inches.|
|Crater Lake (Mt. Bailey), Ore. 6,800||5,800-8,400||421||15 miles NW of Crater Lake, Mt. Bailey has steepest snowcat skiing in U.S.: 27 north facing powder chutes in winter. NE, E, S & W facing bowls for corn in spring.||January-March for powder, into April for corn.|
|Whistler, B.C. 5,413||2,000-7,200||418||Peak chair must close in storms for wind or avalanche. Limited lift capacity to two of five major bowls and upper mountain. Better surface conditions than Blackcomb in warm weather to early June with more north-facing terrain.||February/March for better coverage and visibility on bowls and glaciers and a longer ski day.|
|Blackcomb, B.C. 5,002||2,140-7,420||365||Seventh Heaven and Glacier Express have better weather protection and greater lift capacity than Whistler Peak. Blackcomb operates 700 vertical feet of glacier on T-bars in the summer.||February/March for better coverage and visibility on bowls and glaciers and a longer ski day.|
|Whistler Base, B.C. 2,200||2,000-7,200||190||Lower Franz's run to the Creekside base can have better spring conditions than the more heavily trafficked runs to Whistler Village.||December/January for better surface conditions and less rain near base.|
|Mt. Washington, B.C. 3,926||3,500-5,200||393||Vancouver Island area can get huge snow, nearly 800 inches in 1998-99. Vulnerable to rain in warm years like 2014-15.||December-February for best surface conditions.|
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