Exceptional snowfalls over the past fortnight has taken December totals past the 199 inches (5 metres / nearly 17 feet) for at least one resort in California, others are getting close to that total.
The highest total reported by The Palisades ski area (pictured above and below) is now the resort’s snowiest December on record.
Most of the snow has fallen in the latter half of the month after a warm and dry November and December. The palisades had initially opened in late October after an unusually heavy snowstorm then but had been forced to close and had then been unable to open on its originally planned November date due to lack of snow.
There have been two huge snowstorms a little over a week apart which have caused issues opening ski areas due to too much snow, after they’d been closed for too little. Access roads were blocked for 3-4 days, lifts and buildings buried and the avalanche danger high. Winds of up to 120mph were reported at times and the storms have also brought periods of rain alternating with very cold temperatures.
Ski areas are starting to dig out now and open terrain, but are warning of ongoing avalanche and tree well danger and advise people not to ski or board alone.
Mammoth Mountain is reporting the world’s deepest base and the first to go above 4m this season with 445cm (15 feet) lying on upper slopes.
“It’s been a big December at Mammoth with 13 feet of snow at Main Lodge and much, much more at the summit. Since 12/23 we’ve received 7-9 feet of snow, winds over 100mph, significant road closures, temperatures in the teens and more! Our team continues to work around the clock to keep up with the heavy snowfall and avalanche mitigation work – lift openings will be delayed,” a resort spokesperson commented on Tuesday, adding, “It’s snowing again right now with very cold temps and moderate winds. Snow immersion suffocation is a reality in major storm cycles such as this – be sure to always ski and ride with a buddy and keep your buddy in sight at all times.”
Although the heavy snowfall has been most concentrated on the mountains of California other parts of the pacific coast and further inland in the Rockies have also seen big snowfalls. Resorts here are also playing catch up for snow cover after the warm, dry Fall. Crested Butte in Colorado has posted five feet (1.5m) of snowfall in the past few days (below).
It looks like there will be a break in the weather for the start of the New Year this coming weekend.