Originally Posted by tylrwnzl
Thanks @Tony Crocker for the numbers (and sorry for the very late reply to this thread).
My point in asking if it was the worst overall was not to be myopic and only focus on the situation on the East Coast. My question was for the ski industry as a whole, if you average out the weather impact, the timing of it (bad snow at Xmas/peak revenue season), across all regions how does this compare to other years. Obviously every year (barring a climactic anomaly) some areas are going to be above average and some will be below. Some will be far above or below (like the North East and Mid-West this year). However Snowfall totals are not the only indicator of a good season. You could get a month with a ton of snow but also have warm weather and rain events through the season that impact the quality or at least the perception of the season.
So maybe clarifying it better that was the point of my OP, how does this season--as a whole not just focusing on snowfall totals or one region--stack up to other seasons if you look at things across the board?
As I pointed out, the timing of snowfall in all western regions was good for the industry because snowfall before Christmas was far above average in most of them and below average in none: http://bestsnow.net/122315.htm . Therefore, for the ski industry as a whole I predict 2015-16 is not even close to being as bad as 2011-12 or 2014-15. I assumed that a moderator of a ski forum would have had some knowledge that the 2015-16 Christmas holiday ski season in the West was an excellent one.
Warm weather and rain events are routine in the Northeast, except for outlier cold seasons like 2014-15. Usually the Vermont snowbelt builds a natural base in the trees of 40+ inches for 3+ months and there are sufficient refresher snowfalls for good skiing ~3/4 of the time. This year is noteworthy for having both record warm weather AND record low snowfalls. My view is that southern New England, mid-Atlantic, Midwest, Southeast ski quality is more driven by temperatures for snowmaking than by natural snow. This I have not tried to collect snowfall data from those regions with the single exception of Snowshoe.
In all of the interior western regions rain is so rare as to be a non-factor. The western states had very high temperatures in February also, but rain was not a major issue. The Pacific Northwest gets a lot of low elevation rain but also so much consistent snow that degraded surfaces tend to be a temporary phenomenon. There are unpleasant exception seasons like 2004-05 and 2014-15. Lower Tahoe areas can get rain also, but overall drought is the more serious issue in the Sierra, and the only issue at Mammoth's elevation. 2013-14 and 2014-15 were unpleasant exceptions at Tahoe. The long term ratio of lower to upper snowfall at Squaw Valley is 61%, and in those 2 seasons it was 33% and 42%.
Therefore I believe the quality of western skiing can be evaluated fairly well by snowfall and its incidence, with November/December being the most important. Overall snowfall numbers show 1976-77 and 2014-15 being similar, but the severe drought months were November through January in 1976-77 vs. January through March in 2014-15. Therefore the former season was much worse for the industry, and 1980-81 and 2011-12, which also had severe early season droughts, were probably worse also.
Overall ski season quality charts for selected locations:
Southern California: http://bestsnow.net/scalhist.htm
Northern Vermont: http://bestsnow.net/vrmthist.htm
Fernie and Whistler: http://bestsnow.net/fernhist.htm