Mai Tais, anyone? Last weekend’s Pineapple Express could have spelled disaster for West Coast ski resorts already struggling with a lean snowpack. But with the surprise of high elevation temperatures dropping below freezing, some resorts racked up needed snowpack while others found rain dousing the slopes raw.
Assisted by high elevation, Lake Tahoe resorts in California picked up enough snow to refresh the slopes before the holiday weekend. Boreal, Sugar Bowl, Alpine Meadows, Northstar, Sierra-at-Tahoe, Kirkwood and Heavenly accumulated between 15-20 inches of snow in the weekend storm, enough to allow for open terrain to expand. Even bigger winners were Squaw Valley and Diamond Peak with 23 inches. But Mt. Rose topped everyone on the West Coast with 30 inches of snow.
Feb. 7, 2015 delivered fresh snow to Northstar California.
Further south, Mammoth Mountain received more than a foot of new snow in the upper elevations of the resort. The new snow prompted powder-antics, with hucking cliffs and sinking into chutes.
Oregon’s Mt. Bachelor benefitted from the Pineapple Express, picking up 19 inches to help fill slopes back in. “It’s nice to see the mountain covered in fresh snow again after such a dry and warm January,” said spokesperson Drew Jackson. “Mt. Bachelor is in great shape leading into President’s holiday weekend with more than 90” on the ground at mid-mountain and all chairlifts scheduled to operate.”
By Monday, Feb. 9, snow changed the face of Mt. Hood. Even with a late start to the season and warmer than normal temperatures, Mt. Hood Meadows saw their January learn to ski and snowboard programs boom to be one of the best months in the resort’s history. “Certainly this winter has presented challenges, but snow coverage and conditions on the upper part of the mountain have been quite good, and the milder conditions actually helped in constructing the Vista Park, one of the longest flow parks on the West Coast,” said Dave Tragethon, executive director of public relations.
Fresh snow Feb. 9, 2015 at Mt. Hood Meadows.
Copyright: Mt. Hood Meadows
In Washington and British Columbia, copious rain washed over the lower elevation slopes of ski resorts. But higher alpine bowls cooled just enough to turn the rain to snow. Whistler Blackcomb tallied up 21 inches in the alpine of both mountains.
Some resorts did not fare so well in the warm, wet storm. But kudos to them for humor amid the liquid. Washington’s White Pass Ski Area snow reporter recommended, “Please think cold, leave your freezer door open, turn on the AC, put Walkin' in a Winter Wonderland on repeat and of course, put your ski or snowboard boots on and do the snowdance to end all snowdances.” But to preserve the snowpack the slopes have, the resort closed Feb. 9-11 with plans to open back up Feb. 12 for the holiday weekend.
British Columbia’s Mt. Washington decided to go full tropical for the wet weekend, declaring the appropriate attire as hula skirts, leis and Hawaiian shirts. But by Sunday, the resort opted to suspend all operations at the end of the Canadian Family Day Weekend until new snow arrives to rebuild the base. “We're now at the point where there's simply no snow left to farm or move around,” said Don Sharpe, Director of Business Operations and Marketing.
Other ski resorts closed earlier in January due to thinning snowpack. In California, Mt. Shasta Ski Park, Dodge Ridge and Badger Pass have closed until storms deliver needed snow. In Oregon, lower elevation ski areas such as Hoodoo and Willamette Pass only opened for a short time in January before the meager snow pack forced closure. In Alaska, Eaglecrest also awaits snow to re-open.