As we reflect on the chilly start to 2024, there’s a burning question on the minds of North American ski enthusiasts: how is the ski season shaping up, and in particular – is it going to be a wash out?
We are in an El Nino year, typically characterised by heightened ocean temperatures across the Pacific, influencing global climate and weather patterns. It often brings abundant snow, a season of delight for snow lovers and a boon for ski resort operators. But how has El Nino shaped North America’s ski season thus far?
What Has Snowfall Been Like Across the Rockies and Western US?
El Nino typically means a wetter-than-average scenario for southwestern US, with drier conditions in the Pacific Northwest and upper Midwest.
But, to put it simply, so far the 2023/24 North American ski season has been pretty dire. Resorts such as Whistler had a terrible start to the season, with snow cover effectively being washed away by rainy conditions, followed by a freeze. This led to sparse snow cover on the lower slopes, with icy conditions further up the mountain.
According to Best Snow, as of December 31st 2023, most resorts across the West Coast including British Columbia, California and the Northern Rockies have seen snowfall as low as 50% less than usual.
This has led to much of the lift infrastructure not being opened.
However, so far this season, the further south you travel, the better the snow seems to get. Some of the southernmost ski resorts in Colorado and Utah been blessed with a healthy base of snow.
Still, the Rockies’ northern portion has displayed a lesser consistency in snowfall compared to previous years, leading to a ‘hit or miss’ scenario in areas like British Columbia and Alberta.
Which Resorts Have the Best Conditions So Far?
In light of these varying conditions, certain resorts are emerging as the season’s champions. Let’s break down some of the winners so far, using Best Snow for reference.
In Canada, Revelstoke and Lake Louise have seen the most favorable conditions so far. If you’re looking for the best conditions in the Canadian Rockies, this is the place to be so far.
As of 7th Jan 2024, we are now seeing some moderate snowfall across the Northern Rockies, so things are looking hopeful for the mid-term.
Further south, resorts in Utah and Colorado are offering some of the best conditions so far in 2023/24 ski season.
Alta, Snowbird, Steamboat, Vail and Snowbasin saw less snow coverage than usual in December 2023 but have most of their resort area open so far.
Keep an eye on the snow forecasts as conditions change into January 2024 and beyond.
How Are Ski Conditions in The Eastern USA?
Defying El Nino’s predictions, the Eastern USA is painting quite a different picture this season. Expected dry conditions have been replaced with an abundance of white, leading to an unexpected, yet pleasant, ski season. Basically, East Coasters are having a great start to the 2023/24 ski season and it’s also looking good.
In fact, the northeast is currently bracing itself for some serious snowfall, with storms incoming.
Resorts like Stowe and Killington in Vermont or Whiteface Mountain in New York are seeing consistent snowfall and colder temperatures, contributing to a heavyweight East Coast ski season that looks set to surpass its Rocky counterparts.
Better book your tickets to Vermont for this season!
What is the Forecast for the Rest of the Season?
Looking ahead, the rest of the season forecasts a continuation of this intriguing twist.
Southern sections of the Rockies and the East Coast could maintain the season’s flavorful beginning. This prediction is based on long-term El Nino influences, with an increased likelihood of a wet second half of the season across the southern Rockies and a potentially snow-laden forecast for the East Coast.
Meanwhile, expectations for the northern Rockies are slightly trickier. While we could see increased late-season snowfall, preserving your flexibility is best, ready to flock where the snow decides to fall heaviest and most consistently.
What are Snow Conditions Like in Europe?
Contrasting with North America’s El Nino-oriented season, Europe is experiencing a pretty decent start to the 2023/24 ski season – albeit with a bit of a mixed bag. Much of the the Alps and Pyrenees are reveling in heavy snowfall, with even more forecast in the coming weeks, meaning a solid dusting of powder to keep the season going.
Bountiful snow in resorts such as St Anton in Austria, Gressoney in Italy, Baqueira-Beret in Spain, and Les Arcs in France is putting them high on this season’s European hot list.
With the season in full swing, the tale of two halves is emerging. While North American ski-goers may need to adjust their expectations and travel plans, there is still potential for a good season even in the Canadian Rockies and the west.
Whether you’re skiing the Rockies’ southern reaches, enjoying the East Coast’s snowy revival, or taking a European ski adventure, there’s fresh snow out there ready for carving. The key to this surprising season is flexibility, openness, and the spirit of adventure. So check those snow reports and get ready to chase the snow because the ski season is far from a washout. It’s just a bit different this year.
Thinking of heading to Europe this winter? You’ll find some amazing package deals on the biggest and best ski resorts in the world with Snowtrex. From awesome resorts such as Val Thorens, Portes du Soleil, Verbier/4 Vallees or Mayrhofen, to some of the most underrated resorts such as Andorra/Grandvalira and Via Lattea.
Looking for the best reviews and deals on European ski breaks? Sign up for our newsletter below…