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2015 - 2016 Ski Season Snowfall progress as Of 12/23/2015

The snow report below is offered by Tony Crocker of BestSnow.net. His reports are completely independent and are a methodically competent analysis of an enormous database of snow statistics. His reports will tell you:

  • Who gets the most snow?
  • Is it consistent between years?
  • Does it all come at once or is it spread out over the winter?
  • How likely am I to find powder if I spend a week there?
  • Is there anything special I need to know?
  • And so on.

2015 - 2016 Ski Season Snowfall progress as Of 12/23/2015

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 are set for an excellent holiday season, with all other western regions average or better. With the recent heavy snowfalls, terrain open at some areas may be limited by avalanche control work rather than by inadequate coverage.

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. Base depths are 4-6 feet and most Tahoe areas have now had more snow than in all of last season.

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. Base depths average 6-9 feet, with 111-154 inches at Mt. Baker.

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 the week before Christmas ranged from a few inches at Banff to 2 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.

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.

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, and another 3-5 feet fell the week before Christmas. Base depths are 5+ feet in the Cottonwoods and 3-4 feet elsewhere. In the far south Brian Head is 86% open on a 41-inch base.

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 feet at most areas but 6+ feet at Steamboat. Base depths average 3-4 feet. A-Basin is 66% open.

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. Taos is 90% open on a 55-inch base and will enjoy its second best holiday season in over 20 years.

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 will almost certainly be the worst on record: Okemo 21%, Stratton 9%, Sugarloaf 12%, Sunday River 24%, Tremblant 17%, Mt. St. Anne 7%.