Three Ski, Ride Resorts Attract Winter In Arizona High Desert

AZ-Snowbowl-Cover

For ski and snowboard mountains in the West, the old marketing refrain "location, location, location" holds particularly true in Arizona.

A full third of Arizona sits atop the Colorado Plateau, a massive uplift that occurred in concert with the appearance of the Rocky Mountains between 70 million and 40 million years ago. This uplift produced an elevated land 6,300 feet above sea level into the middle of the state.

This altitude encourages winter storms to drop snow on the state's three ski and snowboard mountains: a pair of extinct volcanoes, Arizona Snowbowl and Sunrise Park Resort, that pop up on the plateau; and, the nation's southernmost ski area, Mt. Lemmon Ski Valley, off the southern edge of the plateau.

Winter moisture content varies widely around Arizona, tending toward feast-or-famine snowfall seasons. Southerly storms off the Pacific sometimes arrive, sometimes not. Sunrise (11,100-foot summit) got no measurable snowfall during 2016-17 season, then more than 200 inches the next season. Same for Snowbowl (11,500 feet high): a meager 99 inches in 2017-18, a bonanza 331 inches in 2018-19.

To hedge against down seasons, both Arizona Snowbowl and Sunrise Park have modestly increased snowmaking in recent years: 13% on 777 acres at Snowbowl, 6% at on Sunrise's 1,200 acres.

A member of the Power Pass family, Arizona Snowbowl's terrain breaks out comfortable for all levels. Blues and blacks that dominate Snowbowl's southern flank, while a premier learning area sits on the north side. Recently installed high-speed "chondola" has reduced impact of high winds. Parking remains clunky, and base lodges in need of remodel.

Owned by the White Mountain Apache Tribe, Sunrise Park Resort's trail map also splits nicely between green and blues off high-speed Sunrise Express, and advanced terrain off Fort Apache-Geronimo fixed-grip pairing. Winds can be high, so strong and frequent that wind meters sit on lift towers. Both base lodges are in midst of much-needed upgrades.

U.S. Forest Service-operated Mt. Lemmon remains old-school: No snowmaking, no grooming, closed Tuesdays and Wednesdays, bare basic base facilities. It's surprisingly steep -- a 900-ft. vertical drop -- with limited green pitches at the base only, and can get dumps because of its isolated high ground. Switchbacking road up from Tucson can be an adventure.

  240 Hits

SnoCast: More Snow Follows Intense Coast to Coast Storm

CONUS_Snow

Following an epic coast to coast storm that dropped new snow from California to Maine, there's more snow ahead for ski country!

The weather pattern is very active, meaning there will be less lead time and a lot of changes the farther out you go in time due to complex interactions in the atmosphere. One thing is for sure, ski season will be strong for many parts of the country to finish February (and likely into March). 

Here's the forecast breakdown for February 23-30, 2023.

 

 

 

West

Let's start out West this week where a large atmospheric trough continues to bring stormy and cold weather...and it's not stopping anytime soon, skiers and riders. As of Thursday, lingering snow continues across the interior West from the most recent storm that dumped feet of snow. Check out some of the photos from the last few days. 

Meanwhile a new storm system is digging down the Pacific coastline.

This new system will bring renewed heavier snow and high winds to California by Friday and Saturday. And it's not just the Sierras this time! Snow will dig deep reaching to southern California with very low snow levels expected. Blizzard warnings are in effect Friday for the San Gabriels with potential for 2-5+ FEET of snow (locally more!) above 4,000' (yeah! insane!). Deep snow is expected for Mountain High, Bear, Snow Valley, and others in SoCal, not to mention big totals upwards of 2-5 feet northward to the Sierras from China Peak and Mammoth northward to the Tahoe area.

It should be noted, this is *significant* for the southern California peaks, historic even. Make sure if you plan to travel, you have appropriate gear and transportation to do so, and monitor pass closures.

This storm pivots toward the U.S. Southwest by Sunday, delivering new snow to Arizona, New Mexico, and southern Colorado ski areas especially.

Another prolonged period of snow develops across the entire west again Monday through Wednesday of next week as a cold pattern sticks around out west. Just keep the skis handy. 

East

Thursday ad Thursday night, snow continues to fall for Midwest ski areas eastward through southern Ontario, to northern New York's Adirondacks and northern New England. While not quite as much fell as predicted, we still picked up beneficial snow on the slopes with this most recent round.  

Scattered lighter snow showers redevelop for the northern Great Lakes to northern New England later Saturday in an otherwise fairly quiet weekend for the Northeast. Here's the snow forecast for the northeast from midday Thursday through early Sunday, February 26 from the National Weather Service. 

The next storm system for the East presses northward into the Great Lakes by later Monday and Tuesday, bringing a mixed bag to the Midwest (Monday) with milder air pushing into the area. However, in New England, with colder air in place, snow is likely to develop again for parts of upstate New York and New England by Tuesday. While early to pinpoint totals, it appears ski season is being saved (albeit a bit late in the season) here across the far Northeast and New England. 

 

Looking Ahead

The general pattern remains similar through mid and end of next week, with a large trough out West, keeping conditions colder and stormier than average. There is a good chance March will come in like a lion for the Western U.S. 

For the East, we continue to ride a border zone as warm, spring-like air tries to push northward. This will mean periodically milder pushes for the Midwest, solidly warm for the southeast, but still enough cold air in the Northeast that we will hang on to our existing snow, and potentially see more when storms come through. Here's the temperature and precipitation outlook from February 28 through March 4, 2023 from NOAA's Climate Prediction Center

 

 

  2133 Hits

SnoCast: Seeking Out Fresh Flakes

CONUS_Sno_20230216-141733_1

If you're a weekly reader of SnoCast, this week's outlook sounds and looks a lot like the last.

A storm system treks across the lower Great Lakes Thursday delivering a wintry "mixed bag" to Midwest ski areas and parts of the Northeast. Out West, we'll see a brief lull before the next system digs in next week with healthy snow expected.

Continue reading
  2212 Hits

SnoCast: Storms in the East; West (Finally) Settles

CONUS_Snow-1

The West finally settles down after an extremely active stretch, while the East prepares for three storms this upcoming week. Here's the forecast scoop in this week's SnoCast. 

East

On Thursday, a storm continues to lift northeastward through the Great Lakes, delivering blustery winds and a healthy 6-12" of snow for parts of northern Michigan and Wisconsin. Great news for Midwest ski areas around Granite Peak, WhitecapShanty Creek, and Big Powderhorn

This same system shifts to the Northeast later Thursday-Friday, delivering much-need 5-10"+ of snow for northern New England ski areas, with highest amounts in northern Vermont, New Hampshire, and Maine. Look to Jay Peak, Burke Mountain, Loon, Sunday River and others nearby.

Unfortunately, warmer air sneaks in from the south generating a wintry mix parts of the Catskills, Poconos, and Berkshires with slick travel expected. 

Colder air returns for all through Friday with light upslope snow lingering across the northern Appalachians, which will be followed up by a beautiful weekend for skiing and riding. Get out and love it! 

A second system will track up the Appalachians to interior New England Sunday through Monday (1/22-23). This time, the rain/snow line threatens to bisect New England from southwest to northeast, so most likely areas to see snow remain across northern Pennsylvania , New York, Vermont and perhaps northern New Hampshire. Keep monitoring as the rain/snow line will shift based on the exact storm track. 

A brief lull Tuesday, before yet another storm targets the Northeast by mid-next week with another good chance of snow for the north. A bit too far out to talk amounts, but at this point, any snow is good snow.

 

West

After an unbelievably active stretch, the West finally appears to have a break in view. With nearly a dozen separate storms since late December, California and Utah have had huge totals, now topping some 300-400" on the season (in some cases more, including Alta at 426" and Brighton at 412"!). Excellent news for the snowpack and water resupply out West.

On Thursday, a cold front continues to sag across southern California toward the Southwest U.S. with snow drifting over the four-corners states by Friday. Expect a general 2-6" of snow for the Arizona, southern Colorado, and New Mexico mountains to round out the week. 

Most of Saturday looks pleasant to hit the slopes, albeit breezy over the Rockies.

 A system drops in from western Canada and the northern U.S. Rockies by Saturday night-Sunday with potential for 5-10" in the Washington Cascades, and a fresh 2-6" for Oregon and Idaho before slowly drifting down the northern Rockies by Monday.

This will open to the door and allow much colder air to spill in for much of the West next week.

Check in again each Thursday for a new SnoCast. Until then, happy skiing and riding!

- Meteorologist Kerrin Jeromin

 

  371 Hits

SnoCast: A Stormy Finish to 2022

Snowbird_tw_122822

 

As we say farewell to 2022, we also say hello to more storms and mountain snow across the West and a warm up in the East. Details on ski conditions ahead in this week's SnoCast. 

Continue reading
  729 Hits

Storm Update: Snow Falling in the Northeast, West

ezgif.com-gif-maker-2

There's new snow falling this Sunday (Dec. 11), so grab those skis and boards and get to your favorite mountain. Check out the live cams as snow falls across the Northeast and a powerful storm continues to dig across the West.

Continue reading
  740 Hits

SnoCast: The Storm Parade Continues For the West

Snowbird_tw_120222_first-dec-storm-13-inches

Here we go again with another very active pattern and heavy mountain snow on tap for much of the Western U.S. While no large storms are in view for the East, we're seeking windows of opportunity. Let's dig into this week's SnoCast. 

Continue reading
  813 Hits

Southwest's Power Pass Embraces Choices; Purg OK'd For Expansion

Power-Pass-Cover

The Southwest Rockies' multi-mountain ski and snowboard season pass is on sale, as the Power Pass focuses on its seven winter resorts -- and a year-round mountain biking destination in Texas.

Continue reading
  1687 Hits

SnoCast: New Year, New Snow. Bring It!

ArizonaSnowbowl_tw_123021

As we close the book on 2021, we’ll get off to a busy snow start for the new year. A storm treks from coast to coast delivering new snow from the Southwest to Quebec. Details in this week’s SnoCast.

Continue reading
  1841 Hits

Power Pass 7-Pack All Spruced-Up For The Season

ABowl-Cover

New trails, new lodging, and plenty of on-mountain upgrades mark the start of the 2021-22 ski and snowboard season for the seven resorts on the Power Pass.

Continue reading
  1882 Hits

SnoCast: Big Snow Targets the Rockies

Arapahoe_Basin_tw_030921

 

A storm system will bring heavy snow to the western mountains, especially the Colorado Rockies this weekend as a cold and stormy pattern persists. On the flip side, the East enjoys mild and spring-like conditions. This week’s SnoCast has the details through St. Patrick’s Day week.

Continue reading
  3179 Hits

Powder Days All Around! Massive Storms Roll Across The West

Alta-Coer

In the waning days of January, Mother Nature got to work -- dropping her glorious bounty upon the mountains of the West, and finally giving skiers and snowboarders the deep powder they've been waiting for.

Continue reading
  1943 Hits

New Lift Highlights What's New At Power Pass Resorts

AZ-Snowbowl-Gondol_20201202-183742_1

The network of Mountain Southwest resorts under the Power Pass season ticket continues to grow, and ownership has built a reputation for putting out money for upgrades.

Continue reading
  1858 Hits

Chair-Gondola To Replace Workhorse Lift At Arizona Snowbowl

Snowbowl-Chondola

Since 1961, the Agassiz chairlift has lifted skiers (and now snowboarders) out of the base at Arizona Snowbowl and up to its 11,500-ft summit. Next season, it will continue to do so -- but in a much faster and more comfortable fashion.

Continue reading
  2839 Hits

Christmas Holiday Ski Forecast

Mt-Rose-Ski-Tahoe

The holidays are here! For all of you planning to hit the slopes for the Christmas holiday, here’s a look at the forecast and what to expect this year.

Continue reading
  2878 Hits

Storms Show Up In Southern Rockies -- Just In Time

Snowbowl-Chair

The first major snowfall in the southern tier of the Rocky Mountains brings welcome coverage to resorts in New Mexico, Arizona, Utah, and southern Colorado – just in time.

Continue reading
  3321 Hits

SnoCountry SnoCast: Season’s First Storm Slams Southwest

Arizona-Snowbowl-Header

Heavy, accumulating snow will reach all the way south to San Diego’s mountains and dump up to two feet of snow in Arizona and the Four Corners.

Continue reading
  3180 Hits

Free Skiing, Riding At Angel Fire, Hood Meadows And Others For Furloughed Workers

Angel-Fire-Sceic

If you've been furloughed by the federal government and looking for a place to ski or ride on a suddenly tightened budget, try Angel Fire or Mt. Hood Meadows.

Continue reading
  4366 Hits

SnoCountry SnoCast: Low Track Coast-To-Coast Storm

mammoth

After an incredible November, more wintry conditions take us into December. We’ll kick it off with a cross-country storm system tracking low across the U.S.

Continue reading
  4098 Hits

Kids Ski Free Programs Across SnoCountry

Brighton-happy-kid-Facebook

Kids instinctually love to play in the snow, and you can share with them the thrill and camaraderie of a day on the slopes, the anticipation of new fallen snow that blankets the world white, the exhilaration of turns on skis. All across the country, you can find programs that offer a chance for kids to try out skiing and riding, most with just a small fee to get started.

Continue reading
  4975 Hits