In the waning days of January, Mother Nature got to work -- dropping her glorious bounty upon the mountains of the West, and finally giving skiers and snowboarders the deep powder they've been waiting for.
Save for the Northwest, this season's snowfall had been, at best, periodic and modest across the Mountain West. And then MLK Weekend came, and so did the white stuff. For the last dozen days of the month, it's been a string of Pacific storms producing the largest dumps of the season.
The first of two storms hit the southern-most resorts. SoCal's Big Bear and Mountain High got much-needed coverage to finally open most of their trails. Moving east, the storm gave Utah what it asked for on the busy MLK holiday. Weekend powder days at Snowbird and Alta (20"), Powder Mountain (16"), and Park City (13").
Moving east, the storm dumped all over Arizona Snowbowl with 23 inches on three the holiday days, then another 40 inches the next two days. Southwest Colorado's Purgatory caught the most in Colorado, with 37 inches in those five days -- powder stash Wolf Creek got another 30 -- and Taos collect 25.
On the heels of the MLK Day storm came what was called a "sudden stratospheric warming event.“ And that's whenMammoth Mountain made the national news. More than 100 inches fell Jan. 27-29 -- and it was still coming down for the weekend.
This mega-storm spread northward to Lake Tahoe, which sorely needed the white stuff, and dumped 28 inches on Heavenly on the southern end of the lake, and nearly two feet on Boreal up north on Truckee Pass. Sugar Bowl reported more than six feet, Dodge Ridge reported a whopping 61 inches, while Mt. Rose Tahoe came in with 51.
The remnants of the storm spread out across the Rockies to help out resorts from southern Utah to northern Colorado for the final days of January. Sun Valley got 25 inches in 24 hours.
The early February forecast has the Sierra taking a breather to dig out, while a steady diet of single-digit forecasts run all across the West -- from the Northwest through the Rockies. The Pacific Northwest is expected to join the party, but only with modest depths predicted into the middle of the month.