Western Weather 2017-18 and Later

I just refreshed the current season progress report.

Strangely, Targhee is not posting a season snowfall number yet, while in past seasons they have done so well before Nov. 1. But its base depth of 41 inches demonstrates that progress is good.

Utah's Cottonwood Canyons are the star of the show right now, 5 foot bases on 7-8 feet of snowfall since late October, half of that in the past few days. This is an example where October snowfall is relevant and should be included in totals.

Mammoth has a 40 inch base on 5 feet of snowfall. Unfortunately my foot swelling probably needs another couple of weeks before it can be in a ski boot all day. I may have given people the heads-up to expect a strong early season when I scheduled the bunion surgery for Sept. 8.:icon-razz:

Aside from Wolf Creek's 28 inch base, Colorado base depths at open areas are the telltale 18 inches that means it's on manmade.
Heavenly, Kirkwood and Northstar all opened today. Kirkwood, who were scheduled to open 12/2, announced it would only be slow, intermediate chair 5, but they opened advanced, high-speed chair 6 at 10:30. Northstar sounds like it would be limited to Vista and (flat) Arrow chairs. Heavenly was only running to Powder Bowl which meant Waterfall was only advanced run. See https://www.tahoedailytribune.com/news/heavenly-northstar-kirkwood-ski-resorts-to-open-saturday/ for some details.

I'm planning Kirkwood/Heavenly/Kirkwood Tues-Thurs, partially to check how someone else did shutting down and draining water at cabin with record low temps last week. https://www.tahoedailytribune.com/n...-temp-record-more-snow-possible-this-weekend/ is SLT airport temps. It was probably low teens closer to cabin near Stateline. Mt Rose opened on Veterans Day and Boreal and Donner Ski Ranch also opened. Palisades moved their opening up from 11/22 to 11/18. It sounds like Base-to-Base gondola is done, but Red Dog upgrade does not yet have towers.
This past weekend Mammoth was 63% open by trail count, has to be the most terrain in North America by far. That includes the top, 3&5, and all lower mountain terrain from Main Lodge to chair 4. Canyon and chair 16 are open for parking access on weekends.

Last week's storm centered on the southern Sierra; it did not snow as much at Tahoe and it snowed more south of the lake than north, unlike many of last season's storms. By past experience these early season snowpacks don't hold up that well at the lower Tahoe elevations. I expect Mammoth skiing to be much better than Tahoe until there are more storms.

Targhee finally has posted a season snowfall total: 75 inches.
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Mammoth was 63% open by trail count, has to be the most terrain in North America by far.
Glancing at their interactive trail map I would guess ~50% or just a bit more by acreage.

That said, that will still definitely beat Wolf Creek, CO which has been reporting 1440 acres open for the past 2 weeks on a mid-20's inch base depth.

Everyone else has near scraps open by comparison to those two. Very cold though so tons of snowmaking going on. My son actually skied Eldora on Sunday with it's whole one trail open. Gotta get those miles in early if you are going to be a ski racer.
When Alta and Targhee open, I'd expect 75+%. Mammoth by acreage will still have a little bit more, particularly in terms of advanced/expert terrain. November is when you want Sierra Cement for a durable base. That's good news for Alta, where the 100 inches of season snow so far has averaged 12% water content.

Wolf Creek is aggressive about opening low tide terrain. You want to see that base get over 40 inches IMHO.
I would be astounded if any of Big Sky's extremely rocky expert terrain (Lone Peak/Challenger/Headwaters) opens. Big Sky has a lot of very mellow slopes that can pump up that acreage number. At any rate, a good start is promising for us because we are going to the Ski Hall of Fame week at Big Sky the week after Iron Blosam in 2023.
Alta, Snowbird and Targhee opened today with ample evidence of their abundant early snow. Alta is 70% open, essentially everything accessible from Collins, Wildcat and much of Sugarloaf. Alta would probably be 90+% if Sunnyside (being rebuilt) and Supreme were open. Snowbird is 39% open, which is good considering that Gad 2 and the backside lifts aren't running. Targhee is 52%, but only two lifts open. Brighton and Solitude are around 40% with just over half their lifts running.

All of these are quite safe bets for the early season, this past week's dry weather notwithstanding. This is a good year for James to revive his December Utah trip.
That Utah snowpack should be as durable as Mammoth's, due to the similar 12% water content. And if it's tired by then, Targhee is 82% open on 91 inches snowfall so far.
if I were Al (GM of ABasin), I would have been making snow on Molly Hogan and across the base area to Pali lift and also on the lower part of Dercums gulch in hopes that I could get something like West Wall or Grizzly Road open in the next week or so...
Took a bit longer than I predicted, but but generally right concept. ABasin opened both Pali and Beavers lifts ahead of the new Lenawee Express, which is now expected to open later this week.
Looks like Targhee is now almost 100% open (94 of 95 trails) and JH looks to be about 70-75% open. Been a good start to the early season in the northern Rockies. Big Sky does not seem to have as much terrain open.
Looks like Targhee is now almost 100% open (94 of 95 trails) and JH looks to be about 70-75% open. Been a good start to the early season in the northern Rockies. Big Sky does not seem to have as much terrain open.
Standard operating procedure for Targhee: Only 5 of the past 27 seasons had Targhee been under 90% mid-December. But the 82% on Nov. 19 was a clear early sign of a good season.

Jackson is 83% open. Mid-December average is 54% and 75th percentile is 74%. I could see this one coming too when the tram opened Dec. 3.

Big Sky is 78% open. Mid-December average is 46% and 75th percentile is 60%.

While we're in the neighborhood, Sun Valley is 79% open. Mid-December average is 50% and 75th percentile is 75%. That's not a surprise given the huge start at Tahoe, as Sun Valley's biggest storms come from that direction.

The Tetons are at about 130% of average snowfall. That's great, but California is at 164% and Utah 171%.:icon-mrgreen:
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Wet storm this week with fluctuating snow levels. Rain to at least 9K at times. Picture is 7800' base of Kirkwood.
from their Twitter feed which also says " "Due to flooding and operational issues, the Timber Creek base area including chairs 7 & 9 will be closed for the day. Chair 1 and the backside are also closed for the day. Status for chairs 5, 6, 10, 11 is still TBD." Earlier they'd hoped to spin 5, 6 and 7 and at 830 posted "Chairs 1,2,3,4,7,9,10,11, and Vista Tow will be CLOSED for the day Chairs 5 and 6 will have a DELAYED OPENING with no ETO."

Heavenly also having problems "MOUNTAIN UPDATE: ALL of Heavenly on Snow Safety HOLD. Nevada side on HOLD while NV Energy works through power issues. NO ETO" posted at 8:26 and no update more than an hour later.
Holy yikes!!!

I guess little ol Eldora is looking pretty good today by comparison.

That's also potentially a lot of new water weight being added to the snowpack. Good for reservoirs, bad for avi behavior and skiing.
Bryan's OpenSnow report said the rain/snow line came down several hours earlier than predicted. But it still rained 3-4 inches at 8,000 feet before that.

I've deferred my month end progress report until tomorrow when this storm will be mostly concluded in the Sierra, hopefully with a foot or two of snow even at Lake Tahoe level. It will still be in progress in Utah though.

Yes this should be very good for the reservoirs. And also Mammoth over ~9,500 feet where it's all snow. Barring an extreme dry midwinter like last year, odds are good that Mammoth will be open into July this season.

bad for avi behavior and skiing.
Immediate ski quality will be problematic with high density snow and avalanche control. But unlike in Colorado the avy danger from this storm will be over within a week.
Rain to at least 9K at times. Picture is 7800' base of Kirkwood.
That reminds me of how Mad River Glen's website mentions after a deluge that they're "letting the mountain drain." The Kirkwood pic takes that to another level.

I'd like to think that these atmospheric river events, with their insane amounts of precip, are putting a dent in the state's ongoing drought. Apologies for my ignorance but where does the Tahoe region watershed eventually end up?