I hope this finds you healthy. We'll get through this and renew the fun next season.
In the meantime:
"Stay home, stay healthy"
PLEASE DO YOUR PART AND DO NOT PROCEED INTO THE BACKCOUNTRY.
Here is the problem with backcountry recreation:
- All DNR, NPS, other parks, NFS land closed
-All NW ski areas are closed for the season -- no uphill travel, no avalanche control. Respect ski area closures.
-NW Avalanche Center: As of March 24th, NWAC has suspended backcountry avalanche forecasting until further notice. Check the website for details and updates. (www.nwac.us).
- Stay at home order in effect no backcountry, no AT skiing, no looking around, no snowshoeing, no x-country skiing, etc. Besides social distancing protocols, the main issue is; if there is a problem (like a rescue or assistance), valuable medical and SAR resources cannot be reallocated. They are needed for the Covid-19 fight. Please respect our medical and emergency workers they are giving their all for you as they always do.
Thanks! Please stay healthy and follow official health guidelines.
PS - Thanks to sponsor OR - Outdoor Research in Seattle for switching gears and making thousands of medical masks!
Review of the 2019-20 season:
The forecast was ENSO Neutral for the Northwest ski season. ENSO Neutral typically means a near-normal snowpack. But as I always say you never know how the snowfall over the season will unfold and this season emphases that point. Also, remember there is not a month-to-month connection with snowfall. One month (good or bad) does not telegraph ahead what the next month will bring.
The season started very slow with almost no snow falling by mid-December. Most areas were not even open at that point, and the ones that were open (Crystal, Whistler, Mission) were almost all on snowmaking with very limited high elevation snowpack. The lack of snow was connected to low November and meager (early-mid) December precipitation. Most of the West Coast precipitation aimed toward California during that time period. Snowfall picked up in the NW by late December as the storm tracked relocated in our direction. The Holiday season was salvaged, but there were many thin spots in the snowpack.
The skiing improved greatly in mid to late winter. Snowfall increased in January, but especially in February and into early March with many powder days. The snowpack came roaring back from the dead to above normal in many areas things can change quickly.
Spring skiing was looking very good with a fantastic snowpack and new storms. Then, of course, the virus hit and by early March the party was over and everything was closed. The weather continued favorable through March and early April with new snow and low snow levels. We will have no water supply problems this summer considering the near to above-normal snowpack.
I think the seasonal forecast was very good for the NW for this past ski season as we ended up with near to a slightly above normal snowpack - but last December was a real struggle.
Long-range forecasting is infamously unreliable especially this early, but the current estimate is next season will be ENSO - Neutral or a remote possibility of La Nina. Neutral means near-normal snowfall for the NW, like this year which is great.
However, if La Nina evolves for the NW that would be fantastic. La Nina, in the NW, is the only reliable long-range forecast. La Nina generally means fabulous snowfall for the NW like the 1140 at Mt Baker in the La Nina of 1999. But La Nina is far less likely than Neutral at this point. La Nina would be a great forecast, confident and prolific for snowfall, but its too early to make that call now. We will have a more dependable outlook by early fall Sept/Oct 2020.
A special thanks to our sponsors this past season - you are the best! Please support them during and after this difficult time.
Thanks again, be safe.
Your Grand Poobah of Powder Larry Schick meteorologist