Non-Stop Snow Since November in USA, But Finally the Sun’s Out

skier lost in powder cloud in front of pale blue sky and trees cakes in snow

Skiers and riders in the USA need snorkels to make it through the immense amount of powder. Resorts in California and Utah are quite literally buried in snow. But finally after what seems like three months of non-stop precipitation, the sun makes an appearance.

Alta in Utah (pictured above – there’s a skier in there somewhere…) has just done the kind of maths equation we like and has been averaging 12cm of snowfall a day since October. Statistically speaking, that makes its powder day after last-night’s 13cm of fresh pretty average.

Mammoth Mountain in California had over 2m of snow from its mid-January storm cycle. There was blue sky followed by a modest 13cm top-up.

Season snow totals are now over 10.5 metres and on it snows… As a frame of reference, snowy Alpine resorts bring in annual average totals of 5 – 6 metres (St Anton, Val d’Isère, Verbier).

When storm totals hit an all-time high mid-Jan (it had already been dubbed #januburied) and snowfall was expected to slow, another 45cm fell. A day or two off from incessant snow shovelling, and then another mini storm rolled in to dust over those tracks.

Palisades Tahoe (previously Squaw Valley) records the month totals (only two-thirds through on 20 January) at 9.5 metres. Though there’s some respite from snow with blue sky and pristine conditions.

And Heavenly, also California, has exceeded last winter’s entire snowfall (by a way) with 7.8m since November, after a decent December brought in 3m, plus the same again in January. The week’s snowfall sits at 1.2m.

Operation dig-out-and-make-safe has been the M.O. in these big-hit California resorts. But as these hills are hit by skiers and riders, resorts are warning against very real dangers that are easily forgotten when the stoke is high.

These include Snow Immersion Suffocation (SIS) dangers, steering clear of tree wells and skiing or riding with a buddy in sight at all times.

snowboarder wearing a snorkel spraying pow,  on deep snow between trees, under a chairlift line
Snowboarder wears a snorkel in Purgatory, Colorado

Colorado is currently at 133% of median, according to the Natural Resources Conservation Service (a govt agency). Crucially, the river basins where most resorts sit are at more than that: 150%+ for resorts like Steamboat, Telluride and Purgatory.

While snow totals are lower than the West Coast, Colorado snow is famous for being light and dry. It piles up high and it’s fluffy.

It’s shaping up to be one of the snowiest winters on record.

Each good snow year, North America ski resorts long it out for Independence Day skiing on 4 July. Contenders are usually Arapahoe Basin and Loveland neighbours in Colorado, and Palisades Tahoe and Mammoth Mountain in California. Read the comments below snow posts right now, early January, and it’s all anyone is betting on. This might be the year for a late-season visit.

On a different continent, Norway is also in the midst of a stellar storm cycle right now, breaking plenty of snow records.

Editor-at-Large Jonny was there last week discovering Myrkdalen and Voss Resort for the perfect 48 or 72hr trip via Bergen, and at Hemsedal a 100-year-long standing record for snowfall has been broken.

Thanks for (finally) sending that bombogenesis Alps-way, yo!

Check in on the news here: