Snow! Where Art Thou? – Version 2.0
Groundhog Day, 2022
We skiers have learned over the years you take the good with the bad. When the skiing is great we know at any moment conditions could change for the worse. And when conditions suck, we can remain amazingly hopeful for that big storm that will change our fortunes overnight. But the winter of 21-22 is trying our collective patience.
In early December we wrote about the lack of snow in North America given a scary snowless November. See Snow! Where Art Thou? And then with great relief we wrote about the impressive arrival of snow later that month. See Snow? Yes, It Exists! Naively, we never thought we would write Version 2.0 on the first topic. But…
In the west we have been on a roller coaster ride all winter. October ushered in meaningful storms with some places like Alta reporting over 60 inches. The problem – very few of the western resorts were open. CO resorts Wolf Creek, Keystone and Arapahoe did open up in mid-October due in part to several decent storms but were quickly forced to severely limit operations. November was made up of sun and warmth with minimal snow, and many areas made a weekly habit of pushing back their opening dates into the month of December. For most western resorts the snow reappeared big time starting around December 12 – 15th. And once the faucet was turned on, it didn’t turn off for weeks. Despite the late start to the December snows, many areas reported near record snowfall for the month. Most places in Utah as an example were reporting snowfall well above 100% of normal by the end of December.
And just when we thought it wouldn’t stop snowing…it did! Bigtime! The last appreciable snowfall for the US Rockies occurred January 5-7th. And for some lower elevation resorts those systems came in the form of immature snow (aka rain). We at conSKIerge cancelled a road trip to ski Schweitzer and Silver in Idaho and Whitefish in Montana due to a rain/freeze cycle. The northwest did get slammed with snow late in January, which unfortunately turned into torrential rain forcing Mt. Baker to close for two days. Since then high pressure has dominated. Don’t get us wrong, we like to see the sun occasionally, but this has been a tad much. As we approach Groundhog Day, the long range forecasts for all of the western US is sun, sun, and more sun through mid February. It can only mean one thing – the powder skiing in April is going to be off the hook! For a depressing but complete discussion of the Utah snowpack see Open Snow Snowpack Update.
Unfortunately, the east coast story has not even been one of a roller coaster. One has to get snow at some point to experience highs and lows. Until recently the only snow in the eastern resorts came out of guns. It has been sad to see all the internet posts by eastern resorts showing off their whales. Nope, not the water kind of whales, but the gargantuan piles of fake snow just waiting to be slaughtered by snow cats. As we write this a bomb cyclone (seemingly the sexy new name for a good ole nor’easter) has gone off in the northeast and current predictions have another storm coming in this week. Hopefully that will finally jump start the season in the east.
Perhaps the most consistent conditions have been found in central to northern British Columbia. While January has not been super kind to these areas either, they have been able to avoid the rain that hit more southern areas (Fernie for example). They have received sporadic, although light snowfalls in the second half of the month. Think Revelstoke – over 300 inches thus far, with some late January snow and a system moving in this week. Want serious snow? Go to Alaska. Alyeska is closing in on 500 inches for the year.
Be Well; Ski Well.