Will El Nino Pack a Snowy Punch?
PHOTO: Skiing at Mammoth Mountain. (Photo courtesy Thinkstock)
Californians know from numerous articles and news reports that El Nino is coming to get them – and get them good. It’s predicted to be one of the stormiest winters on record with "Godzilla El Nino" on the loose. While a wet winter may be bringing some much-needed rainfall to California, what does it mean for skiers and snowboarders who, after four years of drought, are dying to see some record-breaking snowfall?
There is definitely a positive perspective. The Ritz-Carlton, Lake Tahoe is already promoting itself as THE place to relax and take in all the glorious fresh powder that this winter has promised.
“We are optimistic about the great ski season ahead, and we are looking forward to welcoming all those eager winter enthusiasts to our picturesque destination,” said Joseph Mattioli, general manager of The Ritz-Carlton, Lake Tahoe.
But does El Nino mean that there will be an abundance of snow in the region?
Weather junkies can turn to Open Snow meteorologist Joel Gratz for his in-depth analysis of multiple forecasting models from meteorological agencies such as the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association and the Japan Agency for Marine-Earth Science and Technology. Gratz’s main takeaway from multiple forecasts is to expect more precipitation in the south and less in the interior of the North American Rockies and into the Northwest. He points toward Southern California, Arizona and New Mexico as the U.S. regions that will most likely see above-average precipitation.
On the Snow’s mountain meteorologist Chris Tomer also believes that there is reason to be optimistic for a snowy winter. In his prediction for California, he noted that the forecast is for a wetter than average winter, saying that the odds are stacked in favor of a wetter, stormier and snowier winter for the southern half of California. The Sierra Nevada Mountains in general should do much better than the last couple of winters, with snowfall amounts normal to above normal. But again, he noted, that doesn't mean northern California is in the same boat. He said that his gut feeling is that most of the Tahoe resorts should get close to normal snowfall — good news for those heading to Mammoth Mountain and Kirkwood.
Tomer and Gratz both said that resorts in Colorado, Utah and Wyoming will likely see average amounts of snowfall. However, don't tell Colorado. The snow is already falling there and resorts are gearing up for a stellar season.
“Colorado’s four major resorts are ready for an incredible season,” said Pat Campbell, president of Vail Resorts Mountain Division. “Cold temperatures and the onset of our first two winter storms have been timely; with additional snowfall forecast, we anticipate great opening days.”
Here are opening days for some of Colorado’s major resorts:
Keystone is scheduled to open Friday, Nov. 6
Breckenridge is scheduled for Friday, Nov. 13
Vail is slated for Friday, Nov. 20
Beaver Creek is set to open Wednesday, Nov. 25.
For those dying to hit the slopes, Colorado’s Loveland resort is already open.
More by Janeen Christoff
Get Travel Deals and Travel News
Recent Travel Opinions
Features & Advice
Airlines & Airports
Destination & Tourism