Best Ski/Snow Conditions Since Christmas!

This was an El Nino winter, which true to form, was full of mild days and relatively uneventful weather once we moved past the first few days of January.  Last fall I mentioned that no El Nino winter since 1970 has produced an above-normal snowfall winter and so far that is still the case.  Government Camp seasonal snow is still well below normal, even with today’s snow.  The only way it would end up normal is if 120″ fell between now and May.  Pretty unlikely unless it’s going to be a VERY ugly late March/April in the lowlands!


But far better than last year eh?  Once you go higher on the mountain things are more what we’d see in a typical March.  Notice Mt. Hood Meadows has just about reached their average yearly total…it’s been a wet season!


That said, look at the storm totals so far…these are numbers since Saturday morning.


Wow, we haven’t seen this since early December!  And this time we have a nice deep base to start so even better reason to take those jumps now…

By the way, this could be a preview of next season.  We assume next year will be either neutral or a La Nina winter.  If we have a La Nina that’s great for skiing: lower elevation snow more often, heavier totals in general, and more periods of powdery snow.

I expect snow showers to taper off tomorrow evening and then a few days of dry weather commences.  Should be some real spring conditions Thursday and Friday.

Chief Meteorologist Mark Nelsen


25 Responses to Best Ski/Snow Conditions Since Christmas!

  1. BlazerFan32 says:

    As of March 19th.

    Snoqualmie Pass 385 inches for 2015-16
    Stevens Pass 408 inches
    White Pass 286 inches
    Crystal Mountain 487 inches
    Mount Baker Ski Area 571 inches (As of March 16th)
    Paradise on Mount Rainier 557.7 inches

  2. John Fairplay says:

    For the past 10 years, Meadows is well above average.

  3. Jason Hougak says:

    38″ storm cycle and it continues to pile up. La Niña giving El Niño a little taste of things to come. There is a reason a snowboard company is named NEVER SUMMER… 🎶Let the good times roll🎶 So much for those computer models, a brief period to dry out then the snow level falls back down again! Spring Pass…??? More like winter passes on sale $109 at Timberline and $139 Meadows. Get em’ while there cold😆 NW La Niña whiplash coming soon

    • JohnD says:

      If I was a bullish weather investor–including futures for ’16-17–I might be laughing all the way to the bank!

  4. GTS1K' says:

    If this is what NWS calls showers, I’d hate to see rain!

    • muxpux (Longview) says:

      Up here in Kelso, we had a few sprinkles, but an otherwise dry day.

    • W7ENK says:

      But that WAS just a shower. A very long, drawn-out, cold and stubborn stationary shower that lasted from before sunrise yesterday until… well, I guess it’s still shower-ing out there.

      Although, the space between raindrops seems to have increased just a bit… perhaps?

      I’m ready for the sunny 70s, any time now…

  5. Jason Hougak says:

    Timberline a highest base of the season 147″

  6. Tyler Mode in Battle Ground says:


    Here is night 3 of the aurora. This night started late (after 3 AM, but featured the most color…

    Enjoy, and please share the link if you like:)

  7. W7ENK says:

    I will never, NEVER understand how Meadows always seems to end up with so much more snow (supposedly) than Timberline, seeing as how they’re on the “dry side” of Mt. Hood. The leeward side, shadowed from precipitation by the volcano itself, and yet they still somehow manage to magically pull these ridiculous numbers from who knows where. They’re either measuring their snow differently than the normal methods (in a drift, down in a deep hole midway up the mountain?) or they’re just flat lying. It’s disingenuous, at best…

    • Mark Nelsen says:

      I’ve wondered about that too. Although the base snowdepth sensor is automated and always has been. As for the new mid-mountain depth they are reporting the past few years, definitely tricky up there due to drifting so I ignore that one.

    • Boydo3 N. Albany says:

      All the ski areas do it. They find a spot where it gets consistently more snow and that’s what they report. Last year when Bachelor was reporting 60″ it was under the Pine Marten lift that gets snow from their blowers. Other areas were pitiful…

    • BlazerFan32 says:

      Well… Snow measuring is never absolute exact science. You have to do your best to make the closest estimate you can with the equipment you have at hand. I measure off of a snowboard here at home like I did at the Paradise Weather Station on Mount Rainier and also used a snow ruler (which not everyone has and I also have at home too) that is marked off in tenths of inches. The NWS and the CoCoRaHS network tell us spotters and observers across the country that it is best to measure snow as much as possible because of immediate compaction processes under it’s own weight and also melting of the temperature rises enough within a 24 hour period. I do my best to measure even down to as little as 0.1 inches and always of course write down a T for trace of snow if snowflakes are seen falling at least. I learned a lot about trace snow events from the people at the NWS office in New York City.

  8. I appreciate the data about the snowpacks, but right now I really could use a nice break of sunny weather here as well. 3 days are okay, though I could wish for more. I have measured 5.49 inches of precipt. so far this month- that’s close to my month average for all of March.

    • Update: Another few showers yesterday evening, so my month’s total amount is now 5.53 inches. In comparison, last year’s March through the first half was only 35% of that. However, we really added a lot in the second half of the month.

  9. Longview 400 ft says:

    Currently 33.6 just had a hail, grapel shower pass through, it was before the shower 37.8
    Made all a little white.

  10. Benjamin (West Salem) says:

    Thanks!!! I love the charts! I noticed that for cold onshore flow yesterday evening and today it seemed especially wet.

  11. WEATHERDAN says:

    4:47 so far this month. Glug glug glug. Peace.

  12. R says:

    I thought we were past east wind season (from your post a week or two ago), but it looks like there’s more on tap for this week… What’s the cause?

    • Mark Nelsen says:

      We generally are, but the wind will come back sometimes when we get sunny periods (not many of those in spring) and high pressure eastside. Actually little or no east wind from Sunday midday until sometime Thursday. And then not any Saturday onward again.

    • I beg to differ from Mark’s nonchalant attitude toward this Thursday-Friday. Here’s the latest WRF pressure map:

      That looks like about 6 mb easterly gradient, and I’ve heard that these maps sometimes underforecast the gradients. A 7-8 mb offshore gradient would be pretty impressive for the 2nd half of March. That means 60-70 mph gusts for the Crown Point weather station.

      This looks more like an east wind you’d expect to see in either February or mid/late October.

    • Mark Nelsen says:

      Doesn’t the comment above say we’ll see east wind Thursday and Friday? It looks VERY windy both days, I agree. My point was that out of an entire week only 2 days will see gusty east wind. It doesn’t appear/disappear that quickly November-February.

    • It isn’t quite like a mid-winter east wind that goes on for a week, but it IS looking a lot stronger than a “normal” spring day with high pressure in the Columbia Basin and easterly flow through the Gorge. This event seems to have a lot of “gravity” to it in terms of cool dense air eastside. Again…more like something we’d typically see a few weeks closer to inversion season, when the sun angle is a good 10-12 degrees lower than what we see around Equinox Time. 😉

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