It has officially been the wettest winter on record in the USA, meaning many of the country’s ski resorts have experienced the snowiest ski season in history.
Last week the joint ski area of Squaw Valley Alpine Meadows in California reported snow depths of 6.3metres – the deepest in the world.
Last month the resort announced its snowiest month ever recorded, with more than 8 metres (315 inches) of snow falling in February alone. The previous record was set in January 2017 when 7.1 metres (282 inches) fell.
The historic weather front, which blasted the country for almost six weeks, has led to a number of resorts extending their ski seasons so skiers and snowboarders can make the most of the conditions.
Mammoth Mountain, which saw its snowiest February ever this year, was the first resort to announce it will prolong its winter season until Independence Day on July 4, with rumours it may extend further. The resort, also in California, has accumulated a snow depth of 5.8 metres so far this season.
In January 2017 Mammoth was labelled the snowiest place on earth, when it broke its own snow depth record by surpassing the 7.5 metre mark. It was able to keep operating its lifts until as late as August.
Squaw Valley announced last week its slopes will also stay open until July 7. From May 27 the resort will open on Friday, Saturday and Sunday each week, until July – making it the longest ski season in the Tahoe region of California.
In early February John Armstrong from myweather2.com described the storm that hit the west coast of America as ‘biblical’ as it dumped snow for a solid four days and nights at one time. The snow fall was, at times, accompanied by extremely strong winds up to 100mph, which caused resorts to close for extensive periods due to safety concerns and avalanche risk.
The snow continued throughout February leading resorts to label the month #FebruBURIED, posting pictures on social media of cars, houses and lifts submerged.
Before this, in January parts of the country, were also hit by a ‘Polar Vortex,’ which saw temperatures drop as low as -50ºF (-45ºC) in parts of the Midwest.
This season’s headlines are a stark contrast to last winter, when parts of Europe wallowed in ‘once-in-a-generation’ snow depths but resorts across the pond were less fortunate.
Both Squaw Valley and Mammoth are covered by the Ikon Pass, a multi-resort global lift pass that launched last winter and allows pass holders to ski or snowboard in 38 resorts across the globe, including destinations in Canada, Japan, Australia and Chile.
Thanks to the extended seasons, keen snow-sport fans who have already purchased their Ikon Pass for next winter (2019/20) will be able to join current season pass holders in Mammoth Mountain and Squaw Valley Alpine Meadows from April 8 2019 – giving them three additional months of mountain access.
Other popular American resorts are also wallowing in the white stuff and extending the winter season. In Colorado, Winter Park has announced it will keep some of its slopes open until May 12 at least – the second latest opening date ever for the resort – while Breckenridge plans to remain open until the end of May, a month later than planned.
In Utah, Alta will close its normal operation on April 21 but will reopen the following week for a bonus weekend, to make the most of the remaining snow. It’s yet to be announced when neighbouring Snowbird will close its slopes as it brands this winter the #LongestSeasonInUtah.
The weather has eased recently across but there is still snow in the forecast which will keep the pistes in reasonable condition up until July and even, possibly, beyond.