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The Lump of Coal for Christmas 2011

post #1 of 10
Thread Starter 

Zoo week is officially here and Santa has left a lump of coal for most North American skiers.

California is in the worst shape, but with well known volatility not unprecedented. However the precedents are 1976 and 1986.

I have percents of terrain open for Front Range Colorado Christmas week going back to 1988. These are the lowest percents for A-Basin, Copper, Keystone, Steamboat and Vail and second lowest for Breckenridge, Loveland and Winter Park.

Alta's season snowfall of 92 inches, if it stays under 100 by New Year's, exceeds only the 30 in 1976 and the 68 in 1980. Wasatch areas outside the Cottonwoods are ~1/3 open, similar to most of the Colorado areas above.

In the Northern Rockies Brundage is not open, Bridger is 21% open and Whitefish 31%. These are all areas that average ~300 inches and are usually decent early season bets. Schweitzer and Targhee are the only areas in the region in full operation.

The Northeast is crappy too, but Christmases in 2001 and 2006 were just as bad.

So far it looks like the evil twin of last year's record season. Only Alaska and New Mexico missed out on last year's abundance, and those are the places having good early seasons now. The Pacific Northwest and western Canada are average or better (good November but bad December) but look to be in line for a series of storms this week.

post #2 of 10

How about some reports of crowd levels.  Are they down or fairly typical?

post #3 of 10

Looking at the web cams here, it doesn't look bad, but supposedly there were a ton arriving today and I guess they haven't unpacked yet.  I normally expect the 26th to be not so bad.  Theory being that people mostly have Christmas at home (naturally there are exceptions) and get on the plane or in the car on 12/26, then hit the slopes the 27th.  The numbers I heard as having reservations here for the week are sort of astounding and since the word didn't come directly from management I won't quote it, but if it's true they are going to try to fit 100% of their normal Christmas traffic on slopes only 31% open.  (And I have no clue how they came up with THAT number, must be counting trail names not acreage...)

post #4 of 10
Thread Starter 

 

Quote:
they are going to try to fit 100% of their normal Christmas traffic on slopes only 31% open.

This is the key issue.  I skied Mammoth at 13% open on Dec. 15-16.  Skiing was fine for what it was and not congested at all, but 2 days was enough for 100% manmade groomers.   But put say, 70% of normal Christmas traffic on the 15% that's open and that's a very unpleasant scene.

post #5 of 10
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tony Crocker View Post

...

So far it looks like the evil twin of last year's record season. Only Alaska and New Mexico missed out on last year's abundance, and those are the places having good early seasons now. The Pacific Northwest and western Canada are average or better (good November but bad December) but look to be in line for a series of storms this week.



Well, here in the Cascades we are not really too far out of synch with last year. Last year we started reasonably and then hit a two month draught. The season was nothing to write home about until about late Feb/early March.  Then it fired up through the end of season and beyond. We jumped from about half our normal pack to about 140 inches settled in something like 2 weeks. I skinned a 10+ foot deep inbounds snowpack over a month past closing... 

 

Temps will be everything, but as you note,  it seems the storm door is opening here. Fingers seriously crossed...

post #6 of 10

As a New England skier who is committed to a Summit County trip in a month, the best possible spin I can put on the current situation is this: The destruction of cover and inevitable ensuing sheet of solid gray ice brought on by the inch of rain and 40 degree temperatures that are now forecast to bless us tomorrow night will not be destroying anything but a meager handful of man-made-covered runs. Moreover, even if it continues sunny and dry every single day out in Colorado, as it unfortunately seems to be wanting to do, the quality of snow on the meager handful of runs that we will be limited to there will seem like heaven by comparison. Of course what discourages me most about the current local forecast is not that it is unusual but precisely the opposite: Those of us who have lived here our whole lives are all too familiar with this cold-and-dry -> warm-and-wet -> cold-and-dry pattern that seems to prevail during big sections of many winters. We have two or three pretty good years in a row and like idiots we forget all about this reality, only to be heartbroken all over again when it returns. At least that describes my particular brand of stupidity.

 

Edit: adding context from NWS:

 

.SHORT TERM /TUESDAY THROUGH TUESDAY NIGHT/...
INCREASING CLOUDS ON TUESDAY AS LOW PRESSURE HEADS NORTHEAST OUT
OF THE OHIO VALLEY. WILL SEE A CHANCE OF SHOWERS IN WESTERN ZONES
BY LATE AFTERNOON AS A BROAD AREA OF OVER-RUNNING AHEAD OF THE LOW
SHIFTS INTO THE NORTHEAST. WILL SEE TEMPERATURES WELL ABOVE NORMAL
WITH READINGS FROM THE MID TO UPPER 30S IN THE NORTH AND LOWER TO
MID 40S IN THE SOUTH.

LOW PRESSURE WILL MOVE NORTH THROUGH EASTERN NEW YORK TUESDAY
NIGHT KEEPING THE FORECAST AREA ON THE WARM SIDE OF THE STORM.
COULD SEE SOME MIXED PRECIPITATION IN THE MOUNTAINS AT THE ONSET
BUT SHOULD QUICKLY GO OVER TO ALL RAIN AS STRONG SOUTHEAST FLOW
DEVELOPS ACROSS THE REGION. WILL SEE STEADY OR SLOWLY RISING
TEMPERATURES DURING THE NIGHT. EXPECTING HEAVIEST RAINFALL IN THE
FOOTHILLS AND EASTERN FLANKS OF THE WHITE MOUNTAINS IN FAVORABLE
UPSLOPE LOCATIONS. EXPECTING AROUND AN INCH TO AN INCH AND A HALF
BEFORE RAIN SHIFTS OFF TO THE NORTHEAST AFTER MIDNIGHT.
post #7 of 10

Conditions are actually looking up in a big way at Stowe. We got 8" the other night which at least makes everything look white, but really, it's been all about snowmaking. We are behind where we should be, but my dread of Christmas Week changed to cautious optimism. I think I could actually characterize today's skiing as good. With that said, you don't have to go very far South for conditions to change. Rutland has no snow at all. Not even piles in the parking lots. As far as crowds go, it looks to me like we are way down. You could call today and book a full day private for the rest of the week. Last year there was no way you could do that. Parking lot was pretty much empty and with rain forecast (with a  little luck, we could stay on the cold side of the storm), I expect it to stay that way despite good skiing.

post #8 of 10

My wife and I skied Vail Dec. 17 - 20.  The crowds picked up a little each day as we got closer to Christmas.  We were very glad to be getting out of there on the 21st.  Liftlines were long compared to what we are used to at Snowmass in mid-March (our Spring Break week).  But where I could really tell a difference is in how many people we were having to dodge on the trails.  Combined with the marginal snow quality, it was very difficult to have any kind of rhythm or truly enjoy much of the skiing.  I found myself skiing very defensively and cautiously most of the time, and I had a few near misses with folks almost skiing or riding into me.  It was very obvious when I looked at my SkiTracks app - the first or second run of each day was always where I hit my top speed for the day - groomers were still corduroy and not very crowded.  After that, it was kind of just surviving the rest of the day and trying to find something decent to ski.  On our last day on the way down to Lionshead, on the BornFree trail, there was a large section that was so icy, they had a patroller and a mountain host standing by it.  When I slid over it in a side slipping position, I almost did the splits as there was no way to hold on - it was the slickest spot I've ever skied over.  I managed to stay upright, but folks were going down left and right.  Again, we were very glad to get off the hill. 

 

With our experience almost a week before Christmas, I can't even begin to imagine what this week will be like.  I sure am glad not to be there.  I hope no once gets seriously injured.

post #9 of 10

We are finally getting a FORECAST (but...this year these guys should be fired they have been so wrong) that I like:

 

Today: Snow showers. High near 31. West southwest wind around 15 mph, with gusts as high as 23 mph. Chance of precipitation is 80%. Total daytime snow accumulation of 2 to 4 inches possible. 

Tonight: Snow showers. Temperature rising to around 31 by 3am. Southwest wind between 11 and 14 mph, with gusts as high as 22 mph. Chance of precipitation is 90%. New snow accumulation of 2 to 4 inches possible. 

Wednesday: Snow showers. High near 38. Southwest wind around 16 mph, with gusts as high as 25 mph. Chance of precipitation is 90%. New snow accumulation of 2 to 4 inches possible. 

Wednesday Night: Snow showers. Low around 30. Southwest wind between 15 and 21 mph, with gusts as high as 32 mph. Chance of precipitation is 100%. New snow accumulation of 3 to 5 inches possible. 

Thursday: Snow showers. High near 37. Breezy, with a west wind around 26 mph, with gusts as high as 40 mph. Chance of precipitation is 80%. New snow accumulation of 2 to 4 inches possible. 

Thursday Night: Snow showers likely, mainly before 11pm. Mostly cloudy and breezy, with a low around 25. Chance of precipitation is 70%. New snow accumulation of 2 to 4 inches possible. 

post #10 of 10

Skied Moonlight the other day-conditions were not THAT bad-quite a bit of terrain open-but plenty of rocks to go around. Had one pretty good core shot. Was amazed to see all the people with their brand new skis out there. My 5 year old Mantras are now officially "rock skis"

 

Went up Hyalite yesterday for some meadowskipping BC-more snow up there and found some sweet untracked. Hope we get some moisture soon in SW MT

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