While the calendar may read a “New Year,” for skiers & snowboarders the new year starts around Thanksgiving. This is when the chairs start spinning at a majority of the resorts. The NEW YEAR is also a good time to look and see how the 2018 ski season is doing. And based on what you loved reading in 2018, this is a perfect time to do the North America snowfall comparison. The good news is across the board we’re in MUCH better shape than we were last winter. Huge thanks to Tony Crocker for allowing us to use his information. Curious about how our past seasons started? Be sure to visit our Ski Weather Facts & Phenomenon page where we highlight that and many, many more fun facts like what were the biggest snowstorms ever to hit a ski resort.
2018-2019 Season Snowfall Compare To 2017-18
The silver lining last year was the Miracle March we had. Before that, the precipitation California got came in the liquid kind. For this year, while we haven’t gotten any of the legendary Sierra storms where we get feet of snow per day, we have started WAY better than the 2017-18 winter. There’s also a few minor storms in the forecast for the 2nd week of January.
Numbers can lie if you don’t provide a narrative behind them, and the start of the Pacific Northwest winter is a great example of this. On the cover, it looks like they’ve had their typical fast start… but it wasn’t until mid-December that a train of storms dumped over 11 feet at Whistler & Mt. Baker and 4-6 feet farther south. Now with a deep snowpack, it’s game on as usual.
Canadian Rockies / Interior BC
Seriously, it always feels like they NEVER have a bad start to a season. 2018-19 ski season yet again is another shining example of this special place. For those looking for their next ski vacation spot, you may want to consider Revelstoke or Banff.
The storm track for the past few years seems to be pointed right at Wyoming & Montana and is still the case for the 2018-19 season. Bridger was able to open two weeks ahead of schedule and Big Sky was able to open more than 3/4 of their terrain by December 15th. Of course, Mr. Consistent himself Grand Targhee is also sitting pretty with a 7 foot base.
Compared to last winter, Utah is living high on the hog. A few storms slammed into the Wasatch in early October but they had a long break into November. Luckily, after Thanksgiving four feet fell in the Cottonwoods followed by a couple more feet in December, allowing the majority of terrain to open in the Cottonwoods. Other regions in Utah like Park City are still struggling with only 1/2 their terrain.
Northern & Central Colorado
Storm after storm hit the Rockies in November with many of our friends nicknaming it “Snowvember.” With early openings of Vail’s original Back Bowl and Horseshoe/Imperial Bowl at Breckenridge by Thanksgiving, the name definitely describes the start well. In fact, Arapahoe Basin was 84 percent open by December 15th. This is the second highest opening for mid-December in more than two decades!
Southern & Western Colorado
What an amazing start to the winter for them especially when you look at how 2017-18 unfolded. The two shining stars are Aspen & Wolf Creek. After 30 inches of snow graced Wolf Creek’s slopes in early October, they were able to have their 2nd earliest opening ever! While the rest of the resorts are having a slower start, at least it’s more than double from last year.
Talk about a wild & wacky start for the Northeast. For those watching the Thanksgiving Day parade in NYC, you could see that it was one of the coldest events ever. Cold temps plus an onslaught of storms helped set November snowfall records across the area. By December 1st, open terrain was at record highs. Unfortunately, December was a mixed bag of precipitation, cutting trail counts by half in a few places due to some rain events.