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Tuesday March 21, 2017 - Email this article to a friend

With the season drawing to a close, PlanetSKI looks back at the huge levels of snow that have fallen in America and Canada during the winter of 2016/17.

It has been a sensational winter for the USA and Canada.

For a lot of places it was a slower start to normal, but then when the snow did come it was intense and full on.

Storms in January saw huge levels of snow and in February it came in even heavier for many resorts.

March has generally seen warmer temperatures with deep snow bases.

There is great spring skiing and in Canada, especially, snow is still to come. 

Sunshine Village in Alberta, Canada, will be open until the end of May.

Here's a closer look at how resorts in the US states of Colorado, California, Utah and Wyoming have fared and Canadian ski towns in British Columbia and Alberta.


Due to the late arrival of snow in November many resorts opened late.

Jackson Hole in Wyoming missed the snow for the Thanksgiving holiday in November but has since made up for it.

It will close before Easter this year as it falls later than normal in mid April.

California has done exceptionally well after a pretty barren four years and more is set to come.

Some resorts are extending their season; Mammoth Mountain is predicting to be open till mid-summer.

Powder Mountain, UtahPowder Mountain, Utah

















With 20-odd resorts this ski state hosts many of America's most popular.

The Araphoe Basin season runs from October to June, one of the longest in North America.

It has extended its closing date this year as it is still looking at a powder dump. 

It had big fat March snowflakes fall on 12th.

PlanetSKI visited the resort on its four-week North America road trip - see here for our report from A-Basin and other resorts in Colorado.

Here's a look at the start of the season, 17th-18th November, and how rapidly it changed:

The difference of one day:

Resort closures in early January were rife due to the avalanche danger on passes.

Arapahoe Basin, Crested Butte and Monarch Mountain all shut for safety reasons.

Crested Butte on 5th January, having already received 4m of snow:


Best of both... Sun and powder

Alta this year to date has had a snowfall of 12m.

Its last big snowfalls were 0.5m at the end of February with a little more at the start of March.

There are now, however, threats of rain.

Powder Mountain has had a similar snowfall and a dump as recently as 7th March.

We visted Powder Mountain and Alta at the end of the PlanetSKI North America road trip - see here for our reports.

It averages 13m of snowfall a year, which now in March means less than 1m to go to match this.

Park City is a little behind with just under 9.5m total snowfall and a base, just starting to reduce, of 2.3m.

Alta had to push its opening date back several weeks due to a lack of snow in mid-November.

The resort opened 2nd December and then it came down...


Snowbird in FeburarySnowbird in Feburary















Park City MountainPark City Mountain, February















In January, Utah had some closures, like many ski areas, due to the danger of avalanches.

Little Cottonwood Canyon was shut on 23rd January from a huge storm that brought in nearly 1m of snow at base and in fact did cause sliding onto the roads.

The resorts of Alta and Snowbird in the valley gave visitors and employees a two-hour window to get down the road.

And then it was like this in February...

6'36'3" skier trenches through powder at Alta, Feb 22


















To talk of California ski resorts second is a surprise.

But fair as it has received insane and extreme weather this season.

The snowstorms in early January caused havoc with avalanches, mudslides and flooding, this week's forecast suggests several more feet of snow, as well as heavy rain.

There has been epic snowfall, but this has caused some hitches in operations.

In the first month of the year, Squaw Valley had snow totals that were 405% of the January average.

For the past 45 years that average sits at 1.8m.

January 2017 capped out at a total of 7.1m of snow.

Squaw ValleySquaw Valley, 4th January
















Early January was a killer.

Mammoth Mountain received near to 2m in two days.

Mammoth Mountain snow alert - what was happening in January:

Mammoth Mountain, DecemberMammoth Mountain, December















The resort had to close from too much snow.

It was double digit snowfalls, winds and cold temperatures in the Sierra, and from 11th January there was around 3m of snow in as many days, causing several resorts to close.

#Snowpocalypse2017 - as it was referred to - shuttered Kirkwood Mountain Resort and Woodward Tahoe Ski Area.

"That was probably the most intense January that I've seen in my 25 years here in Lake Tahoe," said senior communications manager at Kirkwood Mountain Resort, Kevin Cooper, as it experienced 193% of its average January snowfall.

Road closures affected Nevada's Mt. Rose Ski Tahoe and Sugar Bowl Ski Area.

Tahoe Donner Downhill closed for a day due to blizzard warnings and heavy snow that also stymied Squaw Valley and Alpine Meadows with power outages.

Mammoth Mountain received 6.3m in January setting a new record for any month.

See our report here on Snow in California.

Kirkwood Mountain Resort, JanuaryKirkwood Mountain Resort, January





















Across in Wyoming, Jackson Hole has had "relentless" snow.

"Deepcember" is what the month was renamed as it broke records.

And then January and February happened...

The resort hit top numbers in February, claiming just four days without snowfall due to the Pineapple Express (see below) that stormed in and took out the town and resort's power.

It caused a four-day closure and brought in warmer snow-free weather, perhaps the only relief in the non-stop snowfall this season.

JH received 4m of snow in February alone, the most snow it has ever received in any month in its history.

That's more than some European resorts get in a season.

See here for a review of Jackson Hole.

Teton Pass in Wyoming was closed in mid-December after an avalanche 7m deep buried both lanes of Highway 22.

The pass takes you on to Grand Targhee and further north up to Big Sky, just over into Montana which has had a similar good-snow season.


The snow arrived in November in Sun Valley and has some snow forecast for this weekend, with the threat of rain.

There were a couple of days in February/March with a high avalanche risk, unfortunately due to high winds and warm temperatures rather than fresh snowfall.

It really is a sunny valley that traps the warmth, but is managing to extend for an extra weekend this season.

Idarado MediaSun Valley bright













Take a look at PlanetSKI's editor, James Cove, sum up the US season (so far)...

And here is the PlanetSKI report from Sun Valley as we skied it earlier this season.


Still going strong. No spring skiing just yet...

The 'Pineapple Express' featured big in Canadian conditions this year - it is the surge of moisture direct from the Hawaiian Islands that not only brought rain, but warmer temperatures and rising freezing levels.

It took a couple of punches on Vancouver and its ski slopes.

Grousse Mountain, Cypress Mountain and Mount Seymour had snow on the slopes washed away by the heavy precipitation, but now still have summit depths of over 4m.

At the end of January, Whistler had some spring-like skiing thanks to the warmer weather brought in by the sea to sky storm.

It brought rain to the valley and heavy wet snow to the mountain: 31cm overnight on 1st March.

There were high avalanche risks at elevation due to buried sun crusts.

In total this season, Whistler Blackcomb has had a snowfall of over 8m:

The ski area opened on the 23rd November, had a blip with the storm, and right now is experiencing some serious 'March Madness' - the late snow that recently has become a regular feature.

PlanetSKI was in Whistler in February for some sun and hard-packed piste skiing.

Here is an overview of what Whistler has seen this season:

Whistler is still getting cold sub-zero temps.

It received 10cm of snow this week in 24 hours with more scattered flurries, but also some strong winds.

Here is what Whistler Blackcomb looked like on Saturday 18th March, with a fresh 25cm overnight:

Banff Sunshine, Alberta has had 7m of cumulative snow and nearby in Lake Louise, half a metre dropped last week.

Banff had early snow and opened on 3rd November.

December was its longest cold snap in 20 years.

"It's been -30ºC nearly every day for two weeks. The lowest was -35ºC with wind chill and has been consistently colder than the North Pole for the two weeks. It's been too cold to snow at all," Ski Instructor Alex Cove reported to PlanetSKI from Sunshine Village.

PlanetSKI passed through back in mid-February - see here for our reports.

Powder is for everyone, New Year's Day:

There are reportedly some seriously good conditions in Lake Louise currently (2.5m) as a result of some hefty snowfalls.

The start of the week saw the seven-day snow total 73cm.

White gold in Sun Peaks, B.C mid-DecemberWhite gold in Sun Peaks, B.C mid-December













Revelstoke Mountain Resort, British Columbia. is notorious for powder.

It receives around 12m on average a year and is on 11m at the moment, with a month to go.

And there is more forecast for this weekend.

Here's a look at the famous powder from last week's snow dump, 16th March:



Spring conditions have arrived for many US resorts.

Light snow has fallen in ski states, with heavier stuff in Washington and north in B.C. from a storm on the north-west coast.

California, no surprise, might get some more snow as will southern B.C. and the resorts around Vancouver.

The western resorts of the US have lots of sunshine, softer snow and above-zero temps.

Meanwhile conditions remain cold and fresh in the east thanks to recent snow falls.

And off-piste skiing is becoming harder to find.

Even with spring conditions taking hold there may still be some large snow dumps to come next week.

Throughout Canada the conditions remain pretty wintry, and spring skiing will be short but very sweet when it does arrive.

During the season PlanetSKI has tried to keep on top of the snow falling in North America, jealously binge watching bumper snow videos from the dryer, less blessed Alps... See our report here.

We also reported on the epic levels of snow in California. See our report here.

See here for the main PlanetSKI news page with all the latest stories from the world of snowsports.

PlanetSKI: No1 for ski news

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