It’s January and while there’s a pause in big powder dumps across the West, it’s a good time to take stock of what skiers and snowboarders have after the holidays.
First, the near-term forecast: The week (Jan. 5-11) began with plenty of snow and frigid temps across the northern tier of the Rockies. That has pushed through and forecasters say it won’t be until next week before stuff falls from the skies again.
“For the rest of the week, it'll be drier and warmer across the West, then a few weak systems will bring the potential for light snow back to the northern Rockies, Colorado, and Utah from Saturday through next Wednesday,” reports OpenSnow’ s Joel Gratz to SnoCountry.com.
The Tahoe region can expect similar activity, with MLK Weekend as the next potential storm. In Utah, forecasters see warmer temps and sun, which won’t produce much more than a dusting but will increase inversion in the Salt Lake basin. And across the Northwest, the mini-orgy of snowfall is over – for the time being.
This season, a 50-inch base seems to be the barrier to bust across the West, a depth that gets most trails open on most mountains.
In Colorado, only Breckenridge in the central Rockies and powder-traps Monarch and Wolf Creek in the south report more than 50 inches beneath the boots. The Aspen area, Summit County and Steamboat are among those saying their whole mountain is open.
In Utah, Big and Little Cottonwood canyon resorts are all virtually open and near or above 50 inches, as are the northern resorts of Snowbasin and Powder Mountain. Park City-area resorts still have ropes up on steeper terrain.
California's fickle weather patterns have made snowboarders and skiers a bit manic. Boreal and Kirkwood have benefited most from the boom-or-bust snowfall, each touting 100 percent open and Kirkwood the only California resort reporting a 50-plus inch base. Amazingly, Bear Mountain reports virtually all open on 12-26 inch base.
The Northwest also been yanked here and there this season. A slow start has accelerated but conditions remain quite local. Northern Idaho resorts, like Brundage and Schweitzer, are all open while selected ones in Washington-Oregon, like Mt. Baker and White Pass, report most all trails available.
Photo: Sunny weather like top scene at Bear Mt., Calif. and bottom at Heavenly is in the forecast (Bear Mt./Facebook; Heavenly/Facebook)