Western Weather 2017-18 and Later

jamesdeluxe

Administrator
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.
 

EMSC

Active member
I lot of this seasons early winter issues are altitude too. Loveland has had select openings of natural snow terrain already (nix nox for example) as has ABasin... (west wall for one). Meanwhile lower altitude places like Steamboat had only made snow for 8 total hours prior to the latest cold snap that started Tues night.

My homer resort of Eldora has a base lodge at ~9,400' which is not exactly low altitude, yet has struggled to make snow itself - often being warmer at night than down here in the flatlands. With this weeks couple of days of snowmaking they will make it open on time (Friday), but just barely getting the initial trails covered in the nick of time (eg they are still blowing snow on the initial trail or two this am still with opening only 24hrs away).

So for at least parts of Colorado, above 10K or so feet, snowpack is pretty much on track. Below that it gets less rapidly and has been terribly warm for anything below probably 9K feet.

At any rate, much of the Western US is looking at a pretty terrible Turkey Day for snowsports. Good thing I'll be skiing the huge pow of Central NY :icon-rolleyes:................:icon-smile:
 

Tony Crocker

Administrator
Staff member
the lack of snowfall
? 40 inches in October and 39 so far in November at Targhee. Ironically, I just e-mailed Patrick last night suggesting based on those stats that Targhee was likely the safest bet for early December. OpenSnow says Targhee is predicted to get 17 inches over the upcoming weekend. That's more than any other lift served area shown on OpenSnow maps.

The consistent message, as noted by EMSC and the article I referenced, is the warm temperatures. I'd guess with its noted consistent climate that Targhee has minimal snowmaking, but it's still surprising that it lost that much of its early snow at its altitude and latitude.

I never assume quality skiing before Christmas and thus often schedule non-ski vacations in this time frame. On Nov. 25 we leave for two weeks in Chile, the 8th year of such travel in Nov/Dec since I retired.
 

jamesdeluxe

Administrator
OpenSnow says Targhee is predicted to get 17 inches over the upcoming weekend.
Yes, what they're referring to in the marketing e-mail above.

I never assume quality skiing before Christmas and thus often schedule non-ski vacations in this time frame.
However, as you've noted before, Grand Targhee is year in/year out the best bet in North America for a December destination trip.
 

Tony Crocker

Administrator
Staff member
Targhee has only 4 of the past 18 years under half open on Dec. 1 and averages 71%. For Dec. 15 Targhee has had only one year under 77% out of the past 25 and that one was still at 50%. I wouldn't worry about mid-December but I wouldn't recommend much earlier than that this year.

And of course my opinion about skiing before Christmas is not "Don't do it;" it's "Don't schedule it in advance where you have to commit any $$ to lodging or airfare." It's ironic that I've set some personal records for the early season in a year that is overall not looking so good for it.
 
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Tony Crocker

Administrator
Staff member
I have data on average percents open for many major areas, so I was curious how exceptional the 71% stat on Dec. 1 for Targhee is.

Wolf Creek averages 76% but it's notoriously aggressive about opening with low tide conditions. However Wolf also averages a 36 inch base at Thanksgiving which is quite respectable.

Sunshine at 58% and Lake Louise at 48% are the most surprising Dec. 1 numbers I have. Neither gets a lot of snow, but snow in Western Canada is a bit more front-ended than in the western US, and Banff is so cold that October snow probably doesn't melt out much. These areas may also be liberal about opening with low tide coverage.

Alta at 50% and Mammoth at 40% are areas I am not surprised to see high on the list for Dec. 1. For Mammoth Dec. 1 it's also not surprising to see 20% of seasons at 70% or more but 30% of seasons at 15% or less.
 
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