Vail Mountain blows past last season’s snow total — with more powder on the way

Resorts across the West are enjoying above-average snowfall

John LaConte
Vail Daily
Snowboarder Steve Katz enjoys deep snow conditions near Vail. Vail Mountain, on Wednesday, recorded another 4 inches of snow to bring its cumulative total higher than the 2021-22 season.
Ben Roof/Special to Vail Daily

VAIL MOUNTAIN — On the final day of February, snow blanketed Eagle County during a storm that brought Vail Mountain’s cumulative snow total to 268 inches. With more than seven weeks left in the season, that’s more snow than Vail had recorded all of last season.

Last season, Vail Mountain’s cumulative total for the year was 264 inches.

And there’s more snow on the way, as well. Snow fell during the afternoon hours on Wednesday, and the National Weather Service’s Grand Junction office says more should continue to fall from Thursday all the way through Tuesday.

Weight and ski

Vail Mountain’s snowstake is located next to a USDA snow telemetry (SNOTEL) site, where remote measuring devices monitor not just snow, but the weight of the snow through something called snow-water equivalent, or the amount of water in the snow.

Currently, Vail Mountain’s SNOTEL site is showing a snow-water equivalent of 15.9 inches, which is 115% of normal over a 30-year average. The 30-year average is currently based on the snowpack from Oct. 1, 1990, through Sept. 30, 2020.

Vail’s totals are quite a bit better than nearby Copper Mountain, which is showing 11.6 inches of snow-water equivalent on its SNOTEL site, or 101% of the average.

Banner year across the West

But Vail can’t compare to some of the other ski areas across the West that are having a season for the record books. Snowbird, in Utah (co-founded by Dick Bass, one of Vail’s original investors) has recorded more than double Vail’s total for the season at 541 inches. Nearby Alta and Brighton are also over the 500-inch total, as well.

Sugar Bowl, the first ski area in California to install a chairlift, had recorded 497 inches as of Wednesday. Sugar Bowl on Wednesday began accepting its Spring Pass, a $399 late-season pass that works from March 1 to April 23. The April 23 closing at Sugar Bowl is two weeks later than originally planned — the decision to extend the season came in February.

In Colorado, Steamboat Resort also announced in February it would extend its season by a week, a rare move for the Northern Colorado resort. Steamboat last extended its season in 2007, but that was only a single-day extension. You’d have to go back 30 years, to the 1992-93 season, to find another one-week extension in Steamboat’s history books.

Last season, Vail Mountain announced in March that it would extend its season by one week, crediting both its snowmaking system and Mother Nature. When Vail Mountain announced the extension on March 7, it had recorded 190 cumulative inches on the season. Vail Mountain is currently planning to close on April 23.

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