Western Weather 2017-18 and Later

I'm keen to experience the vibe of Thanksgiving.
Not sure what that would be for a visitor. The conventional wisdom is that it's mostly family gatherings and watching a lot of American football on TV. Perhaps Kylie's aunt can host a traditional Thanksgiving dinner. The 4-day weekend does entice travel given that most Americans get far less vacation time than you Aussies. When Andrew was in high school he had the whole week off and I took him to to the Caribbean. Two of those 3 trips were cruises and the ships had about 1,000 kids out of ~3,500 total passengers.

As for the Utah national parks average November temps in Moab are high +14C, low -1C.
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Heavenly opening tomorrow with Powderbowl chair for Maggies run plus Patsy's chair and run. Both are beginner.
Northstar opening on Thurs. with 1100 vertical Vista chair and long beginner run that has three names.
Downloading will be required at both Vail Tahoe areas opening. I'm not planning to go this month.
watching a lot of American football on TV
That doesn't sound greatly appealing as I don't have much interest in American footy.
As for the Utah national parks average November temps in Moab are high +14C, low -1C.
Doesn't get more perfect for hiking and biking than that.
most Americans get far less vacation time than you Aussies.
There's so much variance in employment now that there's no standard really. Casual employment is huge now and doesn't come with any paid holiday time. Full time workers get 4 weeks paid annual leave (with 17% leave loading). The rest of us that are commission only or contractors etc get no paid leave. Me being on a commission only arrangement means I don't get paid even if I'm at work if I don't deliver the boss some revenue.
Not sure why I would revise that title; it's an accurate description. As for separating out the threads by season, I actually like it better the way it is. You can compare to recent seasons within this thread rather than hunting down a different thread several pages deep.

For the slow starting central and southern regions you can compare to November/December 2017. Alta Collins had a 43 year record low of 23.5 inches in November 2017. Currently Alta has had 33 inches in November. Evan has a bullish forecast for about a foot later this week, but then reverting to dry. My best guess is that Alta will be manageable by mid-December but that Solitude (where James usually stays) might still be sketchy. This is the scenario I experienced during Christmas Week 1986. I advise James to keep his eye on the Alps if forecasts like this one continue.
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My best guess is that Alta will be manageable by mid-December but that Solitude (where James usually stays) might still be sketchy.

James making turns at Solitude in a few weeks on an IKON weekend.

I don't know anyone who gets on a plane to ski at Thanksgiving so I'll defer the resort town comments to ChrisC. Telluride averages 8% open Dec. 1 with a max of 30% over the past 20 years.

I have been out to Telluride at Thanksgiving several times - not for the skiing, but for family and friends gathering.

Typically, Telluride is only staffed to open Chairs 1, 4, 5, 6, and Gondola - with basic snowmaking runs plus any natural snow runs if they have over a 20-25" base.

I have only seen extensive Thanksgiving openings during an extremely snowy holiday in 2004. Chair 5 broke, so they opened the Prospect Bowl and Chairs 10, 11 & 12 with almost a 40" base. (NBS Dick Ebersol's plane crashed in Montrose (son died) during this holiday period).

These days, my brother does not even conduct 'Employee Training' until 2 weeks after Thanksgiving. There is no real demand/need to staff up until the Christmas holiday period.
On Alta website today:
It took a little longer than expected, but Mother Nature delivered another two feet of snow in the past week and our on-mountain crews have been working around the clock to prepare the mountain for skiing. Wildcat and Collins lifts will begin spinning for the 2023–24 season this Saturday, November 25th. We recommend expert skiers only given the current conditions. Limited groomed terrain will be available with no access to the Albion Basin.
Evan at OpenSnow has toned down the Thursday/Friday prediction for Alta to 9 inches. No change for at least the next week after that being dry.
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I'm three weeks out.

Three weeks from Switzerland.

It's getting harder to make the case for SLC, when a similar $ can be found to Zurich.

Big NordStau European weather pattern is in effect. (Cold moist air from the north slamming into the Alps - perhaps the best weather pattern of them all, especially E. Switzerland/Austria). Powder Alert #1 Here

Vorarlberg / Tirol:


You could take the train from Zurich to any of these in 1-2 hours - or base in Lucerne: (I think Andermatt + Engleberg is a top #3 expert combo in Switzerland (Verbier, Zermatt). And Andermatt-Sedrun-Disentis is a huge complex. Plus dynamic lift ticket pricing)

Three weeks from Switzerland.

It's getting harder to make the case for SLC, when a similar $ can be found to Zurich.
I agree. I say look at results next Monday in both Utah and Alps, then make the call. Before Thanksgiving I can track a fair amount of snowfall data but some places don't post it until they open. Most noteworthy is Whistler, which opened 4% today on 41 inches snowfall. Most seasons the Whistler alpine starts accumulating a base in October, but end of October cams this year looked bare.

And since it's a holiday weekend, places with snow will seek to open what they can. Therefore this is the time at which percent of terrain open becomes the most revealing and important stat. So we'll want to see exactly what Alta opens on Saturday.

Here's the historical (20 years) range of open terrain in LCC/BCC Dec. 1, which is a fair estimate for Dec. 15 this year due to November snowfall being half normal, including what's expected the next two days.
75th percentile
25th percentile

The above does not account for the likely dry week after the imminent storm. But it's clear that the next 3 weeks need above average snowfall to get Solitude up to even half open.

Snowbird always lags the other places in early season due to its rugged terrain.
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it's a close call IMHO whether they can make enough snow to get the chair 2 parking open for Thanksgiving.
They blew enough snow to open Mambo to the Chair 2 parking lot starting today: still only 11% open by trail count. Those 19 trails are the second highest count in North America today. Sunshine Village has 20 and Keystone is next with 13, confirming ChrisC's observation:
What a disaster Thanksgiving skiing is shaping up to be.
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a different itinerary this week
Yes, I have been on non-ski vacations in November/early December at least half of the past 20 years. Those pics look a lot like Gulf Coast Florida based on that extremely gradual slope into the ocean.
Alta's storm total was the expected 9 inches. Alta is 29% open, which is not as bad as 2017 but still below 25th percentile. Noteworthy is that nothing is open on the Sugarloaf side yet. Solitude is 4% open. Meanwhile the storm rages on in the Alps with two more expected to follow next Monday and Thursday.

I've updated the percents open Thanksgiving weekend in Front Range Colorado in the database going back to 1988. Everyone is under 10% and at or below 25th percentile.

Mammoth closed Face of 3 and the four race course runs. I was a bit surprised those runs opened after the 8 inches a week ago, but I'm sure they were thin and couldn't stand up to the holiday traffic. Rarely does Mammoth open runs they can't keep open.

Targhee's reputation persists. The Dreamcatcher HSQ and 63% of terrain are open. Next in line are Alta, Wolf Creek at 20% (22 inches new there today) and Sunshine at 19%.
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Evan is not counting his chickens yet on that one. I think the real issue is even if that storm comes through, only Alta stands a good chance getting up to half open from it. After that, Evan says:
All signs point to high pressure quickly building back in on Monday into early next week. The question is how long this high pressure lasts and it's just too early to say.
James is scheduled for Solitude, currently 4% open, and I'm guessing he doesn't want to commute to Alta and pay day ticket and weekend parking prices there.

Meanwhile in the Alps: Another Deep Day Sunday, Two More Storms On the Way
Nearby 5-Day Forecasts :drool: :
Chamonix 65"
Val Thorens 55"
Verbier 46"
Lech 40"
St. Anton 34"
Zermatt 22"
Corvara (Alta Badia) 19"
St Moritz 18"

December 2023 is looking a lot like December 2017, and the odds are increasing that James will make the same call he did then. He bailed on Dec. 6 in 2017 so maybe he can wait another week to decide.
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