Western Weather 2017-18 and Later

Tony Crocker":29t6m5qk said:
Eldora is not off the beaten path as EMSC's TR's demonstrate. A local hill for a community as outdoors oriented as Boulder is going to be hopping on weekends and powder days. In another recent thread I commented on how I had skied very busy days at Bridger Bowl (Bozeman) and Montana Snowbowl (Missoula).

I would be surprised to see a big Ikon impact at Eldora. Who skis there besides Boulder locals? And weren't most of those people on RMSP before like EMSC? I would guess maybe more Boulder locals are patronizing Eldora as the I-70 junkshow continues to get worse.

Eldora is an interesting place as to it's history and skier visits. The long history of it was that it nearly became a 'lost' area a couple of times. And badly struggled with skier visits for years in the 80's & 90's. I started skiing there as my home mountain in the late 90's for reference. For quite a number of years the mountain was only running the front side and beginner sections even though a double had been installed where Corona lift is. They ran night skiing on a good portion of the front side for a while then stopped (except for lower mtn races/training, events, etc... that they continue to do) due to lack of demand.

Heck Vail even owned it in the 90's at one point but then dumped it not seeing the value. When I showed up I could ski powder laps galore on the Corona steeps (West ridge, Salto, Moose) as there would only be like 10 or 20 of us skiing it even on a 1 or even 2 foot powder day. True story. I was told by someone that would know that the owner prior to Powd'r Corp wildly lied and inflated his reported skier visit numbers for many years. (they generally reported from ~175K to 250K in the late 90's and early 00's even though I was told they were actually more like 100K to 150K). Multiple factors have coincided to change the game for Eldora and each plays its own part: Improvements in snowmaking, lifts, grooming over the years; Dramatic changes in snow reporting and snow forecasting to prime the masses; The whole I-70 disaster; Combined resort passes; huge population growth on the front range.

Most people have forgotten that Eldora was actually on the Epic pass with Vail for one season before switching. The Ikon crowds are actually less than Epic since more Epic passes are sold in the front range than Ikon (at least so far). You'd also be amazed at the visitors showing up the last few years. A larger smattering of tourists then ever before; and LOTS of all over the front range, but not exactly Boulder locals are showing up. TONS of people "I've never skied Eldora before" or "I haven't skied Eldora in 20 years" comments when I ride the lift with others.

I guess my general gist is that Eldora was pretty much NEVER crowded 20 years ago no matter the conditions, even as a easy local place to get to. But a lot of things have changed all at similar time frame to completely change the story.

Marc_C":29t6m5qk said:
Recall that Solitude has done away with their adult season pass. It's been replaced by the Ikon pass.

Eldora will still sell you and Eldora Only pass over this way. Surprising number of folks in Nederland that buy exactly that pass too.
Hey lets revive a long dead thread. And with actual relevant material too!

I always track the % of SWE in a couple of different ways during the season. One is almost the entire western US: https://www.wcc.nrcs.usda.gov/gis/images/west_swepctnormal_update.png great resource to see where the snow pack is at the moment.

But also at the history of the season for various sections of Colorado here: https://www.nrcs.usda.gov/wps/portal/nrcs/detail/co/snow/products/?cid=nrcs144p2_063323

Especially note the normal and actual peak snowpack dates and the max % of normal achieved at any point in the season.

With 2 weeks to go for Abasin in the entire rocky mtn region, time to do a quick review of my favorite two local water basins. SouthPlatte is the one I live in and represents this year: Eldora, Winter Park, Abasin, Loveland, Keystone. Easily the best % of normal snow in the state this year and especially Feb onward was good to us (barring ~2 warm weeks in random spots). Mr Deluxe will note the excellently chilly and snowy 2nd half of April and first half of May as not being outliers at all.

2nd favorite is the Colorado Basin which contains a majority of the big name Colo resorts (breck, copper, vail, beaver creek, aspen). Not a horrible season, but also not a good season. Consistently 10-20% below normal for nearly the entire season. And little snow in April or beyond.

As of right now it has been roughly double normal precip on the flatlands this YTD while the further west you go the worse drought conditions get. LOTS of upslope storms this spring.


Your South Platte drainage really stands out in that reference.

EMSC":w1fhdkjz said:
Mr Deluxe will note the excellently chilly and snowy 2nd half of April and first half of May as not being outliers at all.
No they weren't. A-Basin ran Pali and the Beavers to May 16, which is about a week later than normal. The year Liz and I skied Front Range Colorado in late April/early May, 2015, was even better for powder/winter conditions.

I recently updated my season analysis with month-by-month snowfall totals for selected areas.
I have stats from 79 areas, still waiting for a few stragglers plus the handful of areas that stay open through May. This year was not nearly as bad overall as 2014-15, but it was likely the worst season since then.
UT tied all-time high of 117 yesterday: https://www.fox13now.com/weather/utah-u ... 17-degrees

From https://www.mercurynews.com/2021/07/11/ ... ing-to-be/ "San Jose experienced its driest year in 128 years of record-keeping, receiving only 5.33 inches of rain from July 1 to June 30. That’s about the same amount of rain as Las Vegas or Palm Springs gets in a typical year." The two years from July 1, 2019 to June 30, 2021 was the second worst two year period at 55.14", 52% of average. The only worse two year period was July 1, 1975 to June 30, 1977 at 45.82", 43%, which was also the two winters I lived at Tahoe.

My wife and I returned to cooler SF Bay Area after 5 nights in South Lake Tahoe. When we arrived Tahoe between 5 and 6 PM on 7/7, the indoor-outdoor thermometer at our cabin said 84/87, respectively. The next four afternoons when we returned from beach (3 days) and celebrity golf tournament (Sat) between 3 and 6 pm, we had outside temps of 92-93. Official highs in SLT were 90, 91 and 92 Fri-Sun. What made it really uncomfortable was lows of 57, 56 and 55 those days. I'd been to Tahoe went it hit 90 before, but had never seen it for 3+ days in a row especially without overnight cooling. Monday's temp range was also 92/55, breaking old high temp record of 89. See https://www.tahoedailytribune.com/news/ ... e-in-sight

The temps did contribute to the scenery on beach outside golf tournament.


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The two years from July 1, 2019 to June 30, 2021 was the second worst two year period at 55.14", 52% of average. The only worse two year period was July 1, 1975 to June 30, 1977 at 45.82", 43%, which was also the two winters I lived at Tahoe.
Those numbers are not San Jose but are the northern Sierra. I have California ski areas at 85% in 2019-20 and 69% in 2020-21. All four of the seasons 2012-2015 were lower than 69% with 2015 a record low 38%. 1975-76 was 52% and 1976-77 was second worst 46%.

However far Northern California has been relatively drier than the high Sierra the last two years, as was obvious by what we saw at Shasta in April. That region is the source of the state water project so that explains the official drought announcement a few months ago.
Wolf Creek opening this weekend after getting 14" of snow. See https://www.outtherecolorado.com/news/breaking-colorado-ski-area-to-open-this-weekend-after-14-inches-of-snow-falls" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

Mammoth had 6" storms on both Oct 8 and Oct 11 measured at the main lodge and the top received 14". Their have been reports of snowmaking, but opening day still listed as Nov. 13.
Abasin opens Sunday the 17th. One trail of course.

I won't be there (for several reasons). I'll be at an airshow with my son as the temps rocket back up to ~70F on the flatlands by Sunday.

I won't be surprised if Keystone also opens by sometime this weekend. Loveland is no longer really part of the race to open IMO. They divert a ton of firepower to the Valley to get race training lanes open, they choose the longest (flat) possible trail to open first, etc...

Not to be too critical of Loveland, it's their choice and they need to do what is best for them (Race lanes bring in pretty good bucks even on weekdays for example). Just pointing out that it would take something pretty unusual to occur for them to be close to opening when ABasin or Keystone do moving forward. I'll also be curious as to when Copper opens for race teams, as they do that about a month earlier than the public opening.
Looks like today might be Mtn Ops/Ski Patrol day to fence, rope and put up signage at Copper. Appears Copperopolis is groomed and pretty much ready to go. Probably open for Racers by tomorrow early AM would be my guess.

Unfortunately for the speed skiers, snowmaking is only going on from the top of the lift down to the tippy top of the pitch of Rossi's run so far with somewhat warmer temps for the next week or so (so not even a start on rossi's run proper). So it might be a couple weeks before speed training can get opened up top to bottom on the Super B lift.

As expected Loveland is way behind and has not even begun the process of staging snowguns on Home Run section of their first to open run. Eldora could probably open earlier than Loveland this year, as they have put down probably 80% of the needed snow on their first to open run.

Quite surprisingly, Keystone has not opened, nor announced an opening date as yet. Just still says it will open in October.
Mammoth Website said:
Daily Message

The stage has been set and we are excited to announce that Opening Day for the 2021/22 winter season will now be next Friday, October 29. Lift and trail offerings will be dependent on snow conditions as we move closer, stay tuned. We cannot wait to see you back on the hill - let’s rip!

Mother Nature has been good to us this early season. Snowfall the past few weeks along with the hard work of our snowmaking crew has the mountain almost ready to rock and roll. The forecast is calling for a solid storm this upcoming weekend in the form of multiple feet.
They must have confidence in the upcoming prediction, now 4 days out.

Mammoth has already had 17 inches this month over 3 small storms. The natural base is currently insufficient but cams show evidence of snow packing on Saddle Bowl and snowmaking on Broadway.

Liz has never skied in October and I have only skied two opening days anywhere (Baldy Dec. 1987 and Snow Summit Oct. 2004). It's fairly likely we will try for this one.
The storm stalled out Sunday night between Tahoe and Mammoth, with rain/snow line falling to 5,000 feet at Tahoe while remaining above 8,000 at Mammoth until 8AM Monday. But the storm resumed moving and was done at Mammoth by 4PM.

Therefore the Main Lodge/Sesame snow plot got only 15 inches and Mammoth reports 3 feet up top. The cams from McCoy Station look enticing though, so we will give it a shot for one day. There are grounds for some caution about committing to a second day:
1) Underperformance of the storm below 10,000 feet
2) Predicted temperatures too high for making snow after today
3) The above make it unknown whether chair 2 can open for parking and access to more terrain
4) Crowds on Saturday might thus be excessive for open lifts and terrain. The lodging we're getting for $112 Thursday night wants $194 for Friday night, which enhances my suspicions about Saturday crowds.

The big winner from the storm was Mt. Rose, reporting 32-42 inches. Mt, Rose states it will not open this week, somewhat puzzling as they have opened their bunny hill on manmade at the end of October in at least one recent season.

In 2009 Mammoth had an early wet storm totaling 32 inches and opened Oct. 16-18. But the lower mountain snowpack didn't hold up in ensuing warm weather so Mammoth had to close until Nov. 7.
Palisades Tahoe will also open Friday but only Gold Coast and Shirley with access via Funitel.

Mammoth Facebook page said:
Our team has been scoping out the mountain, assessing conditions, and establishing what terrain we can open for the weekend following the latest storm. We plan to open Broadway Express (1), Face Lift Express (3), Discovery Chair (11), and the Panorama Gondola to McCoy Station from 8:30AM-4PM this Friday, Oct 29 with access to at least 7 runs and a small terrain park setup in lower Main Park.
Pending the weather the next few days, we may also be able to pop the top with access to Cornice Bowl and Road Runner – the crew will be keeping a close eye on winds/temps, and working hard to make this happen if conditions allow. Please remember that these are early season conditions and obstacles exist - stay on open trails and be aware of conditions as they change. Stay tuned and get ready to shred, people!
In response to a question they said that there is not enough snow to open chair 2.
Today Mammoth announced Cornice and Roadrunner will be open. It's not clear whether that means Upper Roadrunner to Scotty's and/or the entire length of Roadrunner zigzagging down the backside and coming around past chair 12 to Main. Chair 2 will be available for parking and to get up the mountain but not to ski back down.
Boreal also opening today. https://www.rideboreal.com/culture/blog/all-blogs/boreal-early-opening-2021" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

My last Oct skiing was Halloween 2004 at Boreal. It was free if you were in costume so I wore hospital scrubs. It was also the last day I skied with my brother. (I saw him at Sierra once a few years later, but he had already gotten hurt and was done for the day.) I also skied Veteran’s Day that Fall at Kirkwood where they received enough snow to easily open this year, but have not changed scheduled opening day of Dec. 3.

And you can thank me for the Oct. 29 openings as today I left for a week in Cabo, booked many months ago. But I should be able to start my season by mid-Nov vs. Jan. 6 last year.
I don’t think tseeb missed much at Tahoe. Someone on Mammoth Forum FB group skied Palisades today and bailed after 5 runs and 4,800 vertical. Meanwhile Liz skied 16,600 on her first lifetime October day. I skied 23,700 including 6 runs off the top of Mammoth and I’m exhausted.
I would have gone to Squaw on way to Mammoth and still may later this month, conditions and operation dependent.

Not sure if this shows how low rainfall was last year or how extreme storm a week ago was. A lot of both?


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Annual rainfall averages are 18 inches in Sacramento, 34 inches in Oroville and 38 inches in Redding. While 2020-21 was a very dry year for the Bay Area and Sierra, it was extreme for the northern third of California, primarily because the big atmospheric river of late January 2021 was centered on the former regions.

Moving from the other direction, Mt. Bachelor had 101% of normal snowfall in 2020-21 while Crater Lake had only 71%.

San Francisco has 172 years of weather data. Only 7 of them were under 50% of average rainfall, including 2019-20 at 47% and 2020-21 at 40%. The only years under 40% were 1850-51 at 34% and 1975-76 at 37%. So the 2020-21 stats of 37% for Redding and 26% for Oroville are exceptional.
It's looking like a slow start for most of the western US
Delayed opening dates are a red flag for early season skiing, and here's a list of prominent postponements:
Heavenly, Northstar, Mt. Bachelor, Crystal Mt., Park City, Steamboat, Telluride.

The Northwest had snow last week, but torrential rain over the weekend reduced Mt. Baker's base from 40 to 14 inches. The silver lining is that this storm moved into Canada and got colder, dumping an average 30 inches at Revelstoke, Kicking Horse and the Banff areas. Whistler's alpine base , already evident in October, should be getting deeper too.

Mammoth remains the standout of the western US. This is not the first time (2012, 2017) that its unique combination of high altitude and coastal base building snow has given Mammoth a conspicuous head start over most of its US competitors.
This just in from the king of early-season skiing:

Unfortunately the weather has not cooperated with our plans to open this Friday, on November 19, 2021. Due to the recent warm temperatures and the lack of snowfall, we are postponing the start of the season here at Grand Targhee. Our new opening day is yet to be determined but will be based upon the conditions going forward. All eyes are on the approaching storm this Friday.