Snow? Yes, It Exists!
December 22, 2021
On December 7th we published an article entitled Snow! Where art thou?. For you history buffs see Snow! Where Art Thou? As of that date 99 % of North America was brown instead of white. Well, well…what a difference a week and a half can make! Starting around December 10th, the North American west started to get hit hard with a series of storms that have left most resorts with a decent base and in some cases 100% of their terrain open.
First, a little history. Many resorts in the west received copious amounts of snow back in October from a series of weekly storms. Parts of the northwest were wallowing in snow, and several Utah resorts received 60+ inches of snow. The problem of course is that very few resorts are actually open in October. But, despite that, it got many of us stoked for winter and lead to the predictable fever pitch about what an amazing winter 21/22 was going to be.
Well, November took care of all those hopes! It was one of the driest months on record in many parts of North America. The west coast saw no measurable snow and Utah resorts received miniscule amounts – matching the no snow they received in the legendary winter of 76/77. (That winter is legendary for how little snow they received not only in November, but the whole winter.) And while the east saw precipitation, it came in that immature snow variety.
Perhaps the most impressive change in conditions came to California’s mountains. As we noted in our earlier article, Palisades Tahoe had a 7 inch base with 2 trails open prior to the storms appearing. Contrast that with their current conditions – 50 inch base; over 75 inches in the last week; and with much of their terrain open except the really steep stuff. In fact, the problem in opening up terrain for many resorts in California is dealing with avalanche danger and lift issues given too much snow. Check out Kirkwood Mountain Resort’s recent Instagram posts as an example.
The Rocky Mountains have fared equally well. Jackson Hole had been reporting an 8 inch base with 6 trails open and now reports having received 128 inches on the upper mountain with their tram finally opening for the season yesterday. One of our home hills, Alta, which was barely operational ten ago, is reporting an average 65 inch base with much of the mountain (including some of their infamous steeps like Alf’s High Rustler) open. And, yes, that report is coming from personal experience having skied there the last couple days. Additionally, our northern neighbor (Canada) has benefitted from the recent storms. Fernie Alpine Resort in southern British Columbia was closed at the time of our earlier article. Now they are reporting a 60 inch base, 36 inches in the last week and 3/4 of their trails open.
Unfortunately, dismal news continues to come out of the east. December has been mostly warm with some rain. They have been making amazing amounts of snow when temps have allowed, but if not for that all resorts in the northeast would be closed. A small storm in the last few days provided some relief with southern resorts reporting 4 inches and areas on the Canadian border reporting 10 new. (The outlier here of course was Killington who reported 11 new. We are going to market a new measuring device called the Killington ruler!) Suffice it to say that if not for snow making…
A side note here – it amazes us how hard it is to find the snow report on the websites for many resorts. Are we the only people that think the conditions should pop up on the home page? In researching for this article it was the norm for us to have to do 4 or 5 clicks on a resort’s website to get to their snow report.
Be Well; Ski Well