The latest round of storms off the Pacific Ocean have rivaled any in recent years, so much so that a number of resorts closed temporarily and others had to cut back on skiable terrain.
As we bid a fond farewell to 2018, the editors at SnoCountry take a look at the news that shaped skiing and riding at mountain resorts across North America over the year.
With 2018 quickly coming to a close, several areas across the U.S. and Canada will get final bursts of snow and cold for the year. Here’s the breakdown…
Early on, above-freezing temps kept snowfall down in the Pacific Northwest. But lately, the temps have dropped and the depths have risen. Pacific storms have stayed north, pummeling the Cascades and intermountain region with snowfall measured in feet.
Heading through the Christmas holiday, multiple storms will make their way across the U.S. and Canada. Question is, will these bring the gift of snow to your favorite spot?
Multiple storm systems and a steady plume of moisture will stream into the Pacific Northwest, bringing big totals into the weekend.
If caught in an avalanche, it’s likely that “man’s (and woman’s) best friend” will be the hero of the search-and-rescue operation that saves lives. Although the cuteness factor of Instagram puppies gets likes, these dogs have serious jobs.
The first snow storms of the 2018-2019 season have coursed across the Pacific Northwest, and a number of resorts are gearing up for November openings.
Glad to have you back, SnoCast readers! We can't wait to give you an early edge on when to catch the best snow of the season as we bring you forecasts each week through the season.
Resorts all over the West put gravity mountain biking on the top of the summer attractions. Those who crank up the lifts in the off-season put on bike racks and bring riders to great heights.
Vail Resorts launched another salvo in the battle to own the winter destination market and a larger slice of the ski marketplace with the purchase of Vermont’s Okemo Mountain Resort, Mount Sunapee in New Hampshire, Crested Butte in Colorado and Steven Pass in Washington Monday.
Park 'n' power at Squaw Valley. (Squaw Valley)
Heading to the mountains in an electric car? More and more, ski and snowboard resorts around the U.S. have installed charging stations so that EVs can be ready for the trip home.
Heavy rain and snow will hit places like Mad River in Ohio Friday. (Mad River Mountain/Facebook)
The East gets much warmer with a very heavy wintry mix, while the Midwest sees heavy snow, and the West stays in a favorable pattern too.
Cruisin' at Snoqualmie. (Summit at Snoqualmie/Facebook)
Everyone else seems to be doing it, so why not joint season pass programs for the ski and snowboard resorts in the Pacific Northwest?
With an unrestricted season pass in hand from one of the three Washington state resorts for 2017-2018, skiers and snowboarders can add on three days at each of the two other mountains for $199 – if purchased before May 31 – or $33 a day.
Each resort is within a couple hours’ drive of the Seattle area, so the goal of the program, according to officials at the three mountains, is to “give skiers and snowboarders living in the Puget Sound more reason to stay local.”
Resorts across the Northwest are ramping up discounts on 2017-18 passes. At Stevens Pass, the first layer of discounts has begun. A renewal costs $549, a new pass $599 for a limited amount. When the “first tier” of passes is sold out at Stevens Pass, the price goes up.
Crystal Mountain and Snoqualmie have yet to put next season’s passes on sale. Three resorts in the Northwest link into the Colorado-based M.A.X. Pass, which offers five days of skiing and riding at 44 resorts around the country. Included are Mt. Bachelor, Crystal Mountain and Snoqualmie.
Cruisin' at Snoqualmie (Summit at Snoqualmie/Facebook)
Cascadia Pass works at Stevens Pass. (Stevens Pass/Facebook)
More pow' days at Crystal. (Crystal Mountain/Facebook)
Sunday River is still loving the season with sweet corduroy turns and bluebird skies as of late. Sunday River has over 450 acres of open terrain to enjoy. (Sunday River/Facebook)
Each week, you have been (hopefully) enjoying our weekly "snow finding" weather blog, SnoCast with me, Kerrin Jeromin. But, this week, I'm going to let a few other folks take the forecasting reigns to find out where the best ski and ride conditions will be for the week of March 8-13.
Jumpin' at White Pass. (White Pass/Facebook)
The Snow Gods have been spreading the wealth around the country this season, and now is the time for the Pacific Northwest to count its blessings.
After a decent start to the season – though nothing historic -- the ski and snowboard resorts in Washington and Oregon gathered steam in late January and early February. OpenSnow.com reports that the jet stream that dumps on Lake Tahoe, Utah and Southern Rockies has slipped northward – good news from the resorts of the Cascades and beyond – but Pacific storms may soon take a break.
Always critical in the ocean-sensitive Northwest is the rain-snow elevation, but skiers and riders from the region know how to adjust to widely varying conditions.
“Heavy snow, spotty freezing rain, a rain/snow mix (above 5,500 ft.) – then back to snow,” reports OpenSnow’s Larry Schick. “A low with a warm front is moving in from the Southwest. This system is the causing of the variety of precipitation and this wild weather transition.”
The first weekend of February brought double-digit snowfalls to many resorts, including Summit at Snoqualmie, Stevens Pass and White Pass with at least three feet. But, again, the threat of thaw has been ever present. At Crystal Mountain, some 250 inches have fallen but the settled base is 77-88 inches.
In Oregon, a few dumps came early but resorts have had to make do with intermittent snowfall throughout the first two months of the season – and fluctuating temperatures around freezing. For example, Mount Hood SkiBowl reports 209 inches of snowfall this season, settling to about 80 inches of base.
The long-term forecast doesn’t have any major dumps on the horizon, but OpenSnow predicts colder temps and modest snowfall that to keep base depths on the mountain longer.
“Between February 13-17, the western U.S. and most of Canada will experience high pressure, sunshine, and mostly dry weather,” said OpenSnow’s Joel Gratz.
A 2.3kW solar installation at Aspen Highlands ski patrol headquarters. (Aspen Skiing Company)
During the past couple of decades, a majority American ski and snowboard resorts have come to embrace that climate change is a reality – and a threat to their futures.
Evidence of resorts engaging the principles and practices that reduce fossil fuel use and carbon footprint can be found at many venues and in many ways. Low-energy snowmaking is spreading, as is on-mountain recycling, car pooling priority parking and biofuel use.
Here’s SnoCountry’s sampling of some of the green projects at U.S. resorts:
Sugarloaf. The northern Maine resort has gone all in to reduce its footprint, including revegetation to reduce erosion and composting at area restaurants that produces “black gold” soil used on the Sugarloaf Golf Course.
Cranmore. New Hampshire resort added its first electric/diesel groomer snowcat to supplement a fleet that has been burning biodiesel for a decade. New condo project will heat and cool with efficient electric pump systems.
Crystal Mountain. The Michigan resort got recognition for carbon-reducing LED lighting in parking lots, and its high-speed Crystal Clipper chair that runs solely on wind power credits.
Stevens Pass. All the lift cables at the Washington mountain are lubricated by non-petroleum castor oil, and management actively seeks out “green” vendors for its food and beverage services. Snowmobiles burn low-sulfur diesel, and operate as much as possible during off-hours.
Squaw Valley. Can’t buy bottled water at the California resort; instead, you can fill up water bottles at refill stations for free.
Aspen-Snowmass. The Colorado resort complex chose a political route in addition to e-efforts. Partnering with Protect Our Winters, all employees wear the organization’s patch, and resort officials lobby hard for local, regional and national climate change awareness and action.
The National Ski Areas Association lists 200 U.S. resorts that have signed on to its Sustainable Slopes program – and more than a dozen have received money for “green” projects through the program.
The snow gods smiled on the Pacific Northwest this season, with most mountain resorts getting at or slightly above normal snowfall – meaning they are pushing closing dates to the limit.
Just when we thought El Niño has petered out on the mountains of the West, the metrological maiden has come on with force to put down as much as two feet as April begins.Thus, a number of resorts in the West have decided to stay open a bit longer.