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Base depths in the West...

post #1 of 15
Thread Starter 
I have a trip planned to South Lake Tahoe in the beginning of March. As I am reading all the weather reports for the Western USA I am always reading about Pacific NW, Utah, Wyoming & Colorado getting CRUSHED and Tahoe getting precip, but rain/snow mixes. It started to make me think about switching my trip to either Whistler or Steamboat Springs since I hear the snowfall this year has been epic. I have flexibility in that I can cancel without penalty so why not follow the snow, right?

Courtesy of I decided to do a little sleuthing of current base depths in the Western USA.

For example:

Heavenly 113-137
Kirkwood 106-200
Squaw 60-158
Steamboat 72-93
WB 108
Snowbird 116
Jackson 41-100
Grand Targhee 117

So why is it that the resorts I am looking at in Lake Tahoe are getting more snow than than PNW, COL, WY and even UT at this point? I know Heavenly and Kirkwood are higher elevations than most in Tahoe but do the Tahoe resorts get NO respect when it comes to reporting the weather? Or do the Tahoe resorts perhaps "pad" their totals?

Again I have the flexibility this year to follow the snow and after checking my facts it appears Lake Tahoe has gotten more snow than its much more publicized neighbors.

At this point, for early March skiing, should I stick to my original plan or try one of the other areas mentioned?


post #2 of 15
135" - 155" Mt. Baker,Wa.
151" - 182" Mt. Bachelor,Or.
That's what I'm talking about.
post #3 of 15
I don't get it. All those places are reporting 100" bases and you are thinking about changing plans? It's not that Tahoe doesn't get 'respect', it's just 'what have you done lately'? Tahoe got a lot of its snow around Xmas and has had smaller fresh ups since then, wereas some other regions have received more love since then. Go anywhere West right now but the southern Rockies and you will find great conditions.

post #4 of 15
These areas are not "Tahoe's Neighbors" Have you ever been west??? It is a 2 day drive from Tahoe to CO..
seriously you cant go wrong skiing Tahoe in of my best days skiing spring was Easter Weekend... corn snow at Squaw on the steeps
post #5 of 15
Tahoe area resorts get snow with higher water content which, in general does not compress down as much as the ~8% snow that falls in CO, Utah and WY. Thus it will take less snow to create more base in Tahoe than in the other western resorts. If you look at Squaw and Kirkwood they've had respectively 211"-365" and 116"-244" of snowfall this season. Their bases are reported as 132"-226" and 62"-168". Alta has had 330" of snowfall with a base of 130" and Jackson Hole has had 310"-355" of snow with a base of 100". Fluffy snow packs down much more than wet snow.

Another thing to consider is that Tahoe tends to get it's snow in big dumps measure in feet followed by periods of sunny weather. The rest of the ski world generally gets smaller storms dropping one foot or less but occurring more frequently. The big dumps don't pack down as much as a few inches at a time. For those reasons you'll almost always see a much deeper snowpack reported at Tahoe resorts compared to the other western resorts.

With all that being said, your trip is still not for a number of weeks. A lot could happen (or not happen) between now and then. If it doesn't snow another inch between now and then, no matter how much snow a resorts gotten up to now, conditions will be less than favorable. If you really do have flexibility with your travel plans wait as long as possible before your trip to see whose gotten the most recent snow. Just my $0.02.
post #6 of 15
Also, keep in mind moisture content of snow is extremely low in Colorado - I think we're like 8%. So an 8" powder day in no way translates to 8" of base. We have bases much higher than normal right now.
post #7 of 15
i dont get it either. tahoe started slow, but to complain about the snow bases tahoe is showing now and they got most of that in the past month is just being unfair to tahoe. theyre holding well.
if you wanna change because you like somewhere else better or like the lighter snow in utah and CO, go for it; but i wouldnt cancel tahoe because utah has 20 more inches than tahoe when youre talking 100+ inches and you never know who'll will get the snowstorm the day before you head out.
post #8 of 15
Thread Starter 
Thanks for all the replies. I was just THINKING about making a change...once I saw the snow base numbers I thought better of it. Prosper has a good point. Let's see what February brings and then if I have to make a switch so be it. Unless Tahoe has a month long heat wave I will stick with my original plan.

Interesting how Tahoe's high moisture content results in a bigger base. And as far as calling the ski resorts "neighbors"...figure of speech my friend!!!

So how ARE the conditions in Tahoe these days???

post #9 of 15
once rocks and such are well covered it doesn't really matter if you have 100" or 100' of base; what counts is the surface on which you are skiing or riding.

One of the worst ski vacations in terms of conditions i ever experienced was at tahoe with a base so deep the roads were like tunnels through the snow. But the surface was polished marble or ice rink. packed wet snow that hadn't had any new in like three weeks. might as well have been east coast except for the view. (had a GREAT time anyhow, naturally.) it's always best to wait until the last minute if you have that luxury.
post #10 of 15
Mammoth 144"-168". I'm on it Thursday!

post #11 of 15
Not trying to sway your travel plans.

Just thought I would let you know that Whistler offically anounced today that they had the biggest January snow fall in their history.

Over 15 feet of new snow in January.

There are 3 more storms set to hit this week/weekend.

: : :
post #12 of 15
Over 15 feet of new snow in January.

i just that that deserved a HO-LY COW ! (w/ hat-tip to late cubs announcer Harry Carey.)
post #13 of 15
Head West, young man, then North to Whistler/Blackcomb. Stop at Mt Baker on the way up- you won't be disappointed. Besides, the beer is better. good times
post #14 of 15
Just short of 300 inches fell on Baker in January (26 feet). Base totals as of today: 181"/199"
post #15 of 15

Machine-Made Snow Depth: 33-37 inches
Natural Snow Depth at Midway: 23-28 inches

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