Matt Zaffino's has issued his first powder alert for Ski Oregon. Check it out!
Skier, boarder, and lovers of mountain snow… here we go! Welcome to Ski Season 2012-2013.
But what about the season overall? Every fall I get asked “should I buy a season’s pass this year?” People just cut right to the chase. What I want to say back is “I don’t know, will you use it? Will your wife/husband/SO get mad if you do? Will you get mad if you don’t?” All things I can’t answer and really don’t care about, and besides, I know what they really mean is…
WILL IT BE A GOOD YEAR ON THE MOUNTAIN????
To which I say, this year, YES! I think it will be a good year for the Northwest snowpack and for the West in general. Maybe not as strong as two years ago, when on April 15 Timberline had 203” of snow, but then again most years aren’t.
What’s happening? First, the El Niño that seemed to be developing in late summer and early fall has stopped developing. I wasn’t too worried about this anyway, because indications were that it would be a weak El Niño, and we’ve seen some amazing snowfall in years with weak El Niño But the fact that it’s not developing and is not expected to developing the months ahead, is generally good news for Northwest skiers. There are some other patterns of climatic variability I look at, but El Nino/La Nina seems to have the best correlation to northern hemisphere winter weather. But here comes the disclaimers, and no it's not about calling your doctor if it snows for more than four hours.
Each El Nino, or no Nino in this case, is unique. And, there are probably other climatic patterns that we're missing. And perhaps the biggest disclaimer is that skill in long range winter forecasts isn't great.
That said, I see no reason to believe this won't be a good year. I expect our typical amount of variability, meaning we can go from big snowfalls with a 1,000 to 2,000 foot snow level, to pineapple express and ski slope rain. Hey we all know it happens, and there's no reason to believe it won't this year. Warm happens even in a “cold” year. Likewise, even in a “warm” year, and I'm not saying this winter will be a warm one, but even in a warm winter there can easily be a two to three week period of excellent skiing.
Full disclosure... we're planning on taking a trip to Whitefish, MT this year on the ski train. Not that I think that will be THE only place with great snow. But I don't see any reason it'll be a bad year for the northern Rockies. Or for the great Northwest!
Moving forward I plan on issuing powder alerts when the storms begin to line up, in hope of helping you plan your outings for primo conditions. I'll also post when there's anything interesting to report. And you can follow me on twitter @Zaffino, where I tend to post more immediate tidbits regarding weather and skiing.
Happy Trails and Turns,
KGW Media Group