The snow report describes the piste and off-piste ski conditions at Vail. You can submit an updated snow report here. Piste and off-piste are often different so we ask snow reporters to describe Vail piste and off-piste conditions separately. If these details are missing from the Vail snow report, you can predict off-piste conditions using the snow depth, the date of the most recent snowfall at Vail, the Vail weather report and the forecast.
Members can check the hindcast for a timeline of Vail weather conditions. This detailed weather log makes it easy to predict snow conditions at Vail, even when the snow report is too old to be useful. The hindcast shows when our weather model last predicted snowfall at Vail. It shows how much snow we think fell then, and the way freezing level, wind and weather have varied through time. You will be able to predict whether to expect off-piste powder, slush, spring snow, ice or wind crust.
If you see a report of powder or fresh snow conditions several days after snow last fell, there is usually a good reason. At crowded ski resorts, off-piste new snow will be tracked out within hours of a fresh fall but wherever crowds are light in relation to the accessible terrain, it will be possible to stay fresh much later, perhaps several days later. Alternatively, strong winds sometimes redistribute powder snow enough to cover old tracks, or it may simply be that the ski area was not fully open for some period after the snow fell, so fresh snow that fell a while ago has remained un-tracked until this report.
Whenever weather conditions change, Vail snow conditions will change too, so it is important to check the time and date of the Vail snow report and to guess what effect the weather will have had on snow quality between then and now. For example, the Vail snow report on Friday afternoon may indicate fresh powder but if Friday night is mild and rainy then ski conditions will be very poor on Saturday morning. Conversely, if the weather stays stable and cold, the same snow report can be valid for more than a week. We advise that you check the Vail snow forecast to see if conditions are likely to change before your visit.
Many skiers enjoy moguls and fast icy pistes but for off-piste skiers and free-ride snowboarders, fresh snow starts to deteriorate from the moment it settles. Wind, rain and periods of above-freezing temperature are the primary cause of the evolution from fresh powder to windslab, ice or slush. High altitude slopes that are shaded from the sun and sheltered from the wind preserve powder stashes longer after fresh snowfall. If the snow report mentions pockets of powder at Vail, study the Vail piste map in relation to the wind direction to determine the most likely locations.
We stress the importance of checking the date on the Vail snow report particularly around weekends. For example, the snow report for Vail on Friday may indicate powder after recent snowfall but following a sunny and busy weekend, when the locals hit the mountains en masse, the ski conditions (at any resort) can deteriorate rapidly and late arrivals may see very different ski conditions. Of course some people look for deteriorating conditions in the snow report for the likely development of mogul fields but for powder lovers and particularly snowboarders this can mean tracked out off-piste snow. Of course, this doesn’t always happen quickly after fresh snowfall particularly at quiet North facing resorts at high altitude where genuine powder stashes may be found days or even weeks later. It is worth checking the piste map for Vail (found in menu above) for the location of favourable slopes that may be described in the "Vail Snow Conditions" part of the snow report. In addition to checking the Vail snow report we recommend that you check the snow forecasts found in the menu at the top of the page along with our ski resort guide.