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2014-15 Ski Season Snowfall Progress Report as of 03/02/15.

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.

2014-15 Ski Season Progress Report as of February 28, 2015

In most ski regions this was a warmer and drier than normal October and early November. However, there was substantial snowfall in the northern and central Rockies in the rest of November to put the season on a normal track in many regions. Open terrain for Thanksgiving was mostly on snowmaking but with some natural base at many areas. The first half of December was mostly dry in the Rockies, leaving most areas below average as of mid-December. The weekend before Christmas there was a strong storm of unusually dense snow in parts of Utah and much of Colorado just in time for the holiday season. Snowfall during the holiday season was heaviest in Utah and the US Northern Rockies. There were storms during the first week of January in western Canada and the US Northern Rockies, and during the second week in Utah and southern Colorado. Otherwise January 2015 was one of the overall driest western winter months on record, with no areas getting normal snow for the month and many getting less than half of normal. The first half of February was even worse, with the Rockies being as dry as January with warmer temperatures. The only major storm was a Pineapple Express along the West Coast that damaged as many areas with rain as it helped with snow. Most western regions continued drier than average for the second half of February, with the conspicuous exception of the Southwest, which got 2-3 feet the third weekend of February and a storm at least that size is hitting the region now. The West remains on track for its worst snow season since 1980-81.

California: The first Sierra winter storm hit November 1-2. Tahoe ski areas got 3-8 inches. The storm track was centered farther south so Mammoth got 12 inches. Unfortunately the next week was record warm, and the next storm missed Mammoth and was mostly rain at Tahoe. There were three December storms before Christmas in the 1-2 foot range plus a couple smaller events. Snowfall was concentrated near the Sierra Crest west of Lake Tahoe, with much lesser amounts at the resorts near and east of the lake, as noted in the tables below. Advanced terrain was still limited, as base depths were no more than 3 feet at high elevation and in many cases less than 2 feet lower down. Squaw has had less than 1/3 as much snow at its 6,200 foot base as higher up. There was up to a foot of light snow during the holidays, but January was record dry, just a few inches near the end of the month. The early February Pineapple storm had high and fluctating snow levels in the Sierra. Upper elevations now have about 4 feet of coverage while lower elevations had mostly rain. Mt. Rose was the one big winner with 30-44 inches and is the Sierra area closest to full operation. Warm weather over President's weekend degraded much of the snow. The first Southwest storm dropped up to a foot at Mammoth but missed Tahoe. The end of month storm has ranged from 6-18 inches, but much more is needed. Coverage below 8,000 feet is still marginal. Most Sierra resorts should be avoided unless there is substantially more snow.

Area

Season Snow

Pct. of Normal

Pct. of Area Open

Alpine Meadows

106

42%

34%

Squaw 8,000

153

49%

21%

Northstar

63.5

30%

48%

Mt. Rose

147

62%

92%

Sierra-at-Tahoe

87.5

31%

50%

Heavenly

69

25%

42%

Kirkwood

140

41%

90%

Mammoth

88

35%

70%

Southern Cal

38

43%

0-70%

Pacific Northwest: The entire season has been characterized by storms with a high rain/snow line. Thus the Whistler alpine has a manageable 57-inch base but is uncharacteristically not yet fully open at the end of February. Mt. Bachelor's Summit opened Dec. 13 and has a 6-7 foot base, but the pre-Christmas storm iced the Summit lift and closed it for the next 3 weeks. The 20 inches in early February resurfaced upper terrain and given Bachelor the best conditions in a mostly miserable region. Other Northwest areas had excessive early season rain and only opened just before Christmas on a limited basis with base depths less than 3 feet. Conditions improved with 2+ feet of snow during the holidays and early January, but late January rain closed some terrain and the February Pineapple (rain to 5,500 feet at Whistler and 6,500 farther south) closed even more. Despite modest snowfalls up to a foot in late February, most Northwest areas remain in limited operation and should be avoided until there is a substantial dump of snow.

Area

Season Snow

Pct. of Normal

Pct. of Area Open

Whistler

187

61%

79%

Crystal Mt.

174

59%

40%

Stevens Pass

154

44%

69%

Mt. Bachelor

163

59%

54%

Canadian Rockies and Interior B.C.: There was quite a bit of terrain open in this region from early snow in November. The Okanagan areas had the most snow in December. Early January snowfall was 1-2 feet with the Okanagan areas again getting the most. Base depths were 5 feet at Revelstoke and Whitewater and 3-4 feet elsewhere. Lower areas near the US border had some of the rain from the early season Northwest storms but had over a foot of snow during the holidays. The late January and early February rain to 5,500 feet and ensuing warmup affected most of interior B.C. The Kootenay areas near the US border were most damaged by the rain. Banff/Lake Louise received all snow from these storms and now have the best conditions in the region. There has been little snow the second half of February, so melt/freeze conditions prevail on sun exposed slopes, and ungroomed skiing in rain-affected areas is not recommended.

Area

Season Snow

Pct. of Normal

Pct. of Area Open

Big White

176

86%

94%

Lake Louise

124

103%

98%

Sunshine

160

91%

100%

Revelstoke

250

95%

63%

Kicking Horse

182

99%

100%

Whitewater

200

70%

100%

Red Mt.

134

68%

40%

Fernie

168

62%

42%

Castle Mt.

99

51%

Closed

U. S. Northern Rockies: There were several storms in November in Wyoming and Montana. There was not much early December snow except for Sun Valley getting snow from the south. Big Sky is 99% open. Idaho skiing improved with pre-Christmas storms except at the panhandle areas which probably had some Northwest rain, while the Tetons got about 3 feet of snow. The entire region got 2+ feet of snow over the holidays, and was the most favored western region in the first half of January with 1.5-3 feet of snow. Low altitude areas near the US border got the late January and early February Northwest rain while others only had the warm spells. The Tetons continue to get the most snow but have had mostly melt/freeze conditions since late January.

Area

Season Snow

Pct. of Normal

Pct. of Area Open

Whitefish

189

80%

100%

Bridger

170

82%

100%

Grand Targhee

236

68%

100%

Jackson Hole

240

85%

100%

Schweitzer

122

61%

48%

Brundage

156

71%

100%

Sun Valley

115

78%

100%

Utah: The season started dry but the Cottonwood areas got a mid-November 3 foot dump. Other areas did not get so much and have had very limited skiing mostly on snowmaking. The pre-Christmas storm dumped 2-3 feet of heavy snow in the Cottonwoods, and over a foot of fluff topped that off over Christmas, bringing the base up to 5-6 feet. The areas outside the Cottonwoods were still quite restricted because some of that pre-Christmas storm was rain up to 8,000 feet. These areas were about half open at Christmas and about 3/4 at New Year's. The second week of January storms dumped up to 2 feet, bringing all areas close to full operation. However that was nearly the only snow for the entire month, so spring conditions have prevailed since the late January warmup. February snowfall has been barely a third of normal, though most of it has been in the second half of the month. Brian Head has been hit with 3+ feet of snow from the late February Southwest storms. Wasatch areas outside the Cottonwood Canyons should be avoided due to deteriorating conditions over the past two dry and warm months.

Area

Season Snow

Pct. of Normal

Pct. of Area Open

Alta

227

63%

100%

Snowbird

224

67%

97%

Brighton/Solitude

178

52%

96%

Park City group

116

56%

87%

Snowbasin

109

51%

95%

Brian Head

146

68%

100%

Northern and Central Colorado: A-Basin opened one snowmaking run on October 17 and has been 95+% open since mid-January. Most of November was stormy in this region, so much more terrain than usual was open for Thanksgiving. There was little snow the first half of December so base depths settled to the 2 foot range. The pre-Christmas dump of up to 3 feet of dense snow pushed the base depths into the 4 foot range for very good holiday skiing at most areas. There was another 1-2 feet over the holidays. January and early February snowfall was about half of normal, and late February snowfall was about average. Most areas are not far below average for the season due to the better earlier months. This remains a promising region for the late season.

Area

Season Snow

Pct. of Normal

Pct. of Area Open

Beaver Creek

215

96%

99%

Breckenridge

252

102%

95%

Copper Mt.

209

109%

100%

Keystone

152

97%

94%

Loveland

213

98%

99%

Steamboat

197

77%

100%

Vail

230

93%

100%

Winter Park

212.5

89

95%

Southern and Western Colorado: November snowfall was above average north but below average south. Snowfall and open terrain have lagged the Front Range areas. The pre-Christmas storm brought 2+ feet to Aspen and Telluride and lesser amounts elsewhere. Holiday week snowfall was about a foot except for 3 feet at Wolf Creek. The second week of Janaury storms dropped 2+ feet at Wolf Creek and 1+ foot in other southern Colorado areas. The region averaged only about a foot of snow from mid-January to mid-February, leaving sketchy conditions on no more than 3+ foot bases. The recent Southwest storms dropped 2 feet of snow at Aspen and Crested Butte but 4+ feet in southern Colorado. Taos was also slammed with these storms, so its base jumped from 43 inches mid-February to 80 inches at the end of the month. The new Kachina chair opened Feb. 13.

Area

Season Snow

Pct. of Normal

Pct. of Area Open

Aspen/Snowmass

139

80%

96%

Gothic Snow Lab

175.5

71%

N/A

Crested Butte

137

79%

63%

Durango

126

71%

100%

Telluride

183

101%

99%

Wolf Creek

229

89%

100%

Northeast: October was too warm for any areas to open by the end of the month. November was good for snowmaking but there was intermittent rain along with some snow late in the month. The first half of December was colder with 2-3 feet of snow, so skiing was much better than normal for early season. Unfortunately widespread rain fell just before Christmas, producing icy surfaces and reduced trail counts for the holidays. January had average snowfall but consistent cold temperatures for a mostly good month of skiing. February was outstanding with 4-6 feet of snow and no thaws or rain, vastly superior to most western regions. Percents open: Okemo 100%, Stratton 100%, Hunter 90%, Sugarloaf 91%, Sunday River 100%, Tremblant 100%, Mt. St. Anne 100%.

Area

Season Snow

Pct. of Normal

Pct. of Area Open

Jay Peak (mid)

236

97

100%

Stowe

225

100%

99%

Sugarbush

190

96%

99%

Killington

171

95%

100%

Cannon Mt.

157

133%

100%

Whiteface

128

97%

95%

Le Massif

133

79%

100%

 

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