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One California ski resort finally shut down operations after historic snow…in August!

While parts of the Western U.S. have been baking in recent weeks, folks 11,000 feet above sea level have enjoyed snow. It’s the snow that was still left on the ground from an historic season up on Mammoth Mountain in California’s eastern Sierra Nevada.

The resort announced on Instagram that the first weekend in August would be the last for skiing operations — until its usual re-opening date in November.

It’s only the third time in history that Mammoth Mountain has kept things going this late in the year. The only other times were in 2017 and in 1995.

The reason? Record snowfall between October 2022 and June 2023. The resort tallied up 715″ of powder near its main lodge — nearly 60 FEET of snow. The resort’s website says the summit picked up nearly 900″ of snow.

Snow total this past winter at the main lodge on Mammoth Mountain, CA

Snow total this past winter at the main lodge on Mammoth Mountain, CA

Closer to home, however, it was slim-pickings this past winter.

Snowshoe Mountain, which averages more than 100″ of snow each winter, only recorded 55″ in the winter of 2022-2023.

Snow totals at Snowshoe Mountain from the winter of 2022-2023 according to onthesnow.com

Snow totals at Snowshoe Mountain from the winter of 2022-2023 according to onthesnow.com

What gives?

The pattern was locked for seemingly months at a time — especially January and February.

Persistent dips/troughs in the jet stream would force the air up California’s Sierra Nevada, resulting in feet upon feet of snow.

On the other side of the country, persistent rises/ridges in the jet stream lead to less frequent snow and more frequent warmth.

What caused the extreme difference in snow from west to east this past winter?

What caused the extreme difference in snow from west to east this past winter?

This was all due to the third straight winter of La Niña.

Heading into the winter of 2023-2024, the global pattern is showing a different side.

We’re moving into an El Niño. This is why extreme heat has plagued the Western and Southern U.S., while more storms have happened in the East so far this summer.

El Niño potentially favors more active storm track in the Eastern U.S. during winter 2023-2024

El Niño potentially favors more active storm track in the Eastern U.S. during winter 2023-2024

In looking back at historical data, El Niño winters feature above-average snow more than half the time in Southwest and Central Virginia.

How El Niño has affected snow totals in the past in southwest and central Virginia

How El Niño has affected snow totals in the past in southwest and central Virginia

There’s more to a winter forecast than just this piece, but we’ll be combing through the data these next few months.

Our annual winter outlook usually comes out in late November. Stay tuned!


Source: WSLS News 10

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