British Columbia’s Whistler getting a big share of the Sierra’s snow
Michael Zeiden had been planning on taking his 18-year-old son, Brandon, for a five-day ski trip to Mammoth Mountain earlier this month.
However, when he read the meager snow-depth reports at the big central Sierra resort, he began looking north, to British Columbia and Alberta, where La Niña and a high-pressure system over the eastern Pacific have been diverting most of this winter’s storms.
The Los Angeles businessman settled on Whistler Blackcomb, home to the 2010 Winter Olympics, which has received more than 17 feet of snow this season. More than 6 feet have come since Christmas, 2 feet of that after New Year’s.
“It’s been great,” says Zeiden, who skied for five days during the second week of January at Whistler, which has an impressive vertical drop of 5,280 vertical feet.
“I skied here 12 years ago and had good memories of the resort,” he says. “The upper mountain was especially good, though we had a bit of rain and mist in the base village a couple of days.”
Alas, Mammoth — which broke its snowfall record last season — has been operating only on human-made snow, and like all other Sierra Nevada resorts, is banking on a powdery payoff from this weekend’s storms. It’s been even worse at Squaw Valley, which had a record 811 inches of snow last year but had only a few of its 177 trails available last week. Even Heavenly, which boasts the largest snow-making system on the West Coast, had only about 20 percent of
its slopes open before the incoming storms. A few resorts haven’t opened at all.
Resorts in Wyoming and Montana have been the exception in the United States, with Jackson Hole getting 10 feet of snow. Forecasters say a shift in the storm track may bring snow to areas in Oregon, Washington, Idaho and Wyoming in coming weeks.
However, according to Boulder, Colo.-based meteorologist Joel Gratz, who publishes opensnow.com, the jet stream may not swing far enough south to do much for California, Utah or Colorado