Big snows coming to the West, finally in early to mid November

La Nina events often bring good winter snows to the Pacific Northwest into British Colombia and heading into November, a major change in the weather pattern will bring early season snows from Whistler to Mt. Baker, Crystal Mountain, Jackson Hole, and in Places like Snowbird. Many of these areas have seen record late summer and early fall heat with historical fires destroying millions of acres of land in California to the Pacific Northwest.

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If you are an avid skier, ski area manager, or anyone in the snow sports industry, you can download a recent sample of my new monthly newsletter called Climatelligence, below. The November and December issues will have a unique insight into my long-range weather forecasting techniques, which I have done for major ski areas for over 25 years.


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Looking at two ski seasons following an active hurricane season

Each La Nina winter is different, but generally, it is the Pacific Northwest and much of British Colombia and Alberta who benefit the most with above-normal snowfall. Eastern US winters tend to be very variable with extreme temperature fluctuations. For example, heading into early to mid-November, near-record warmth will aggravate snowmaking conditions.

One can look at where snowfall was above or below normal for the last two La Nina winters, which also happened to have an active hurricane season. These were the active hurricane winters of 2017-2018 and the infamous 2005 hurricane season.

I will have much more detail, plus interesting long-range weather forecasts and other goodies in my newsletter in the coming months.

2017-18 Ski Season Summary


2017-18 favored the north over the southern regions to an extreme degree with only a narrow region in between near average, ranging from Mt. Hood to the Tetons. Many areas in Washington, Montana, and farther north were over 120% of normal while most from central Oregon, Utah, Colorado, and farther south were under 80%, with the Southwest suffering worst at 60% or less. For more detail on snow incidence by month and region, see 2017-18 Ski Season Analysis

RECORD  HIGH  (10 Years Minimum) 6+ PowderRECORD  HIGH  (10 Years Minimum)  6+ Powder
 Waterville Valley, N. H. 3,000 21411%     
 Castle Mt., Alb.  5,70046119%     
 Lake Louise, Alb.  6,7002509%  Lookout Pass, Idaho/Mont.  5,600586Dec.-Mar33%
 Sunshine Village, Alb.  7,02831711%  Silver Mt., Idaho  6,200409Dec.-Mar23%
 Big White, B. C.  6,20036115%     
 Big Sky, Mont.   8,920 37613%     
 Sun Peaks, B. C.  6,10026611%     
 Whitefish, Mont.   6,700    42719%     
 Whitewater, B. C.  5,50049818%     
 Schweitzer, Idaho   4,700  42918%     
 Revelstoke, B.C.  6,42943217%     
 Mt. Washington, N. H.  6,26234413%  Red Mt. 2, B. C.   6,650217Dec.-Mar12%
 Mt. Rainier Paradise, Wash. 5,42068827%     
 Snoqualmie Pass, Wash.   3,00044218%     
 Sugarloaf, Maine 3,6951749%     
 Jackson Hole, Wyo.   8,250  39113%     
 Cannon Mt., N. H. 1,8001899%     
 Grand Targhee, Wyo.   8,20050617%     
 Whistler Roundhouse, B. C.   6,000      47817%     
 Snowshoe, W. V. 4,8481799%     
 Fernie, B. C.  5,400   45918%     
 Mt. Baker, Wash.   4,30075931%     
 Okemo, Vt.   3,3001829%     
 Keystone, Colo.   11,6412409%     
 Bridger Bowl, Mont.   7,100    34113%     
 Crystal Mtn 2, Wash.   6,10048021%     
 Whiteface (Lake Placid), N. Y.  3,66022410%     
 Killington, Vt.  4,14223011%     
 Central Sierra Snow Lab – Boreal, Cal. 7,200 26312%     
 Mammoth Mtn, Calif.   9,600 or 8,90025011%     
 Mt. Fidelity (Selkirks), B. C.  6,15047918%     
 Alpine Meadows, Calif.   7,000  31315%     
 Mt. Bachelor, Ore.   6,350 30411%     
 Berthoud Pass, Colo.   11,315 29712%     
 Kirkwood (Carson Pass), Calif.  8,52631815%     
 Mary Jane at Winter Park, Colo.   10,800     30112%     
 Alyeska, Alaska  2,75049921%     
 Loveland, Colo.   11,200  28310%     
 Jay Peak, Vt.  3,00032214%     
 Arapahoe Basin, Colo.   10,8202549%     
 Brundage, Idaho   6,00023610%     
 Stratton, Vt.   3,87518510%     
 Mt. Hood Meadows, Ore.   5,40044316%     
 Squaw Valley, Calif.   6,200     23612%     
 Smuggler’s Notch, Vt.   1,60031715%     
 Stevens Pass, Wash.   4,06146718%     
 Sun Valley, Idaho   8,800 1868%     
 Snow Basin, Utah   7,700 22610%     
 Squaw Valley, Calif.   8,000     39718%     
 Stowe, Vt.  3,04127412%     
 Sugar Bowl, Calif.   7,000    31514%     
 Northstar, Calif.   7,80026012%     
 Heavenly Valley, Calif.   10,000   28213%     
 Le Massif, Que.  2,6001728%     
 Sierra at Tahoe, Calif.  7,74627913%     
 June Mtn, Calif.   8,700   21911%     
LOW   LOW   
 Crater Lake (Mt. Bailey), Ore.   6,80030411%     
 Gothic, Colo. 9,400  1706%     
 Southern California Composite   7,000 – 8,000  392%     
 Park City 2, Utah   9,300 1969%     
 Snowbird Tram Base, Utah   8,100  25912%     
 Alta, Utah   9.60038116%     
 Steamboat, Colo.   9,200   26210%     
 Alyeska, Alaska   1,500  25712%     
 Sugarbush, Vt.   3,0001908%     
 Jupiter Bowl, Utah   10,00021910%     
 Snowbird Mid-Gad, Utah   9,64032114%     
 Arizona Snowbowl 2, Ariz.   10,800995%     
 Brian Head, Utah   9,770 1809%     
 Breckenridge 2, Colo.   12,00027710%     
 Vail, Colo.   11,250   2168%     
 Copper Mtn, Colo.   11,000  2178%     
 Wolf Creek, Colo.   10,64222610%     
 Aspen Highlands, Colo.   11,100 1737%     
 Beaver Creek, Colo.   11,2002239%     
 Brighton, Utah   9,50234615%     
 Snowmass, Colo.  11,0002279%     
 Aspen Mtn, Colo.   11,1901746%     
 Crested Butte, Colo.   10,150  1707%     
 Telluride, Colo.   11,1701868%     
 Purgatory, Colo.   10,000 1266%     
 Red Mt. Pass, Colo.   11,0901929%     
 Monarch, Colo.   2088%     
 Solitude 2, Utah   9,40022310%     
RECORD  LOW (10 Years Minimum)   RECORD  LOW (10 Years Minimum)   
 Taos, N. Mex.   11,200924%     

2005-06 Ski Season Summary

The following major weather patterns affected the ski season.

November: Several storms began in the Northwest but were most consistent in Montana, Wyoming, and Northern Colorado. North of this track Canada had average snow but south of it Utah, California, and the Southwest were very dry. 

Early and mid-December:
 Montana, Wyoming, and Northern Colorado continued to get heavy snow and had excellent conditions throughout the month. These storms extended into Utah, catching up those areas by Christmas. Adjoining regions (California and Canada) were below average and the Southwest was in severe drought.

Christmas through January
: This was one of the most widespread snowy months in recent years. Everyone from Canada to the Sierra, Utah, and Colorado had abundant snow, with only SoCal, Arizona and New Mexico missing out.

February: Snowfall was average early and late but the middle 2 weeks were much drier than normal.

March and early April: Storms consistently pounded the Sierra, with above-average snow in the Northwest and Utah also. These storms finally broke the extreme Southwest drought. The northern areas favored in the early season had below-average snow.

Late spring: While winter lasted deep into April in the Sierra and Utah, there wasn’t much spring. Temperatures warmed rapidly to summer levels, and only Mammoth remained open until July.

 Mammoth Mtn, Calif.   9,600 or 8,900659    
 Sun Valley, Idaho   8,800 352    
 Jackson Hole, Wyo.   8,250  452    
 Alta, Utah   8,650631    
 Alpine Meadows, Calif.   7,000  494    
 Sunshine Village, Alb.  7,028290    
 Mt. Bachelor, Ore.   6,350 482    
 Kirkwood (Carson Pass), Calif.  8,526624    
 Steamboat, Colo.   9,200   440    
 Heavenly Valley, Calif.   8,400   375    
 Copper Mtn, Colo.   11,000  363    
 Aspen Highlands, Colo.   11,100 308    
 Whiteface (Lake Placid), N. Y.  3,660202    
 Central Sierra Snow Lab – Boreal, Cal. 7,200 422  Big Mountain, Mont.   6,700    302Dec.-Mar.
 Mt. Rainier Paradise, Wash.  5,420729  Telluride, Colo.   11,170212Dec.-Mar.
 Crater Lake (Mt. Bailey), Ore.   6,800505  Schweitzer, Idaho  249Dec.-Mar.
 Mt. Washington, N. H.  6,262330  Whitewater, B. C.  5,500325Dec.-Mar.
 Stowe, Vt.  3,950243    
 Brighton, Utah   8,740 410    
 Snowbird, Utah   10,000  491    
 Bridger Bowl, Mont.   7,100    336    
 Mary Jane at Winter Park, Colo.   10,800     366    
 Grand Targhee, Wyo.   8,200531    
 Gothic, Colo. 9,400  372    
 Squaw Valley, Calif.   8,000     583    
 Whistler Roundhouse, B. C.   6,000      466    
 Big White, B. C.  6,200317    
 Snowshoe, W. V. 4,848167    
 Squaw Valley, Calif.   6,200     321    
 Red Mt. Pass, Colo.   11,090291    
 Mt. Baker, Wash.   4,300781    
 Vail, Colo.   11,250   398    
 Monarch, Colo.   312    
 Breckenridge, Colo.   11,100 336    
 Keystone, Colo.   11,641252    
 Northstar, Calif. 7,800332    
 Beaver Creek, Colo.   11,200299    
 Crested Butte, Colo.   10,150  254    
 Snowmass, Colo.  11,000317    
 Aspen Mtn, Colo.   11,190260    
 Sugarloaf, Maine 3,695173    
 Mt. Fidelity (Selkirks), B. C.  6,150407    
 Lake Louise, Alb.  6,700146    
 Whistler Base, B. C.   2,200  171    
 Berthoud Pass, Colo.   11,315 306    
 Southern California Composite   7,000 – 8,000  89    
 Loveland, Colo.   11,200  333    
 Jay Peak, Vt.  3,000328    
 Alyeska, Alaska   1,400  499    
 Arapahoe Basin, Colo.   10,820321    
 Purgatory, Colo.   10,000 210    
 Sugarbush, Vt.   3,000208    
 Fernie Snow Valley, B. C.  5,400   367    
 Mt. Hood Meadows, Ore.   5,400423    
 Okemo, Vt.   3,300127    
 Brian Head, Utah   9,770 287    
 Smuggler’s Notch, Vt.   1,600312    
 Wolf Creek, Colo.   10,642342    
 Tod Mt. (Sun Peaks), B. C.  6,100162    
 Killington, Vt.  4,142191    
 Taos, N. Mex.   11,200152    
 Stratton, Vt.   3,875127    
 Arizona Snowbowl 2, Ariz.   10,800143    
 Arizona Snowbowl 1, Ariz.   9,50086    
RECORD  LOW (10 Years Minimum)  RECORD  LOW (10 Years Minimum)  
 Waterville Valley, N. H. 3,000 78