This will be the final Powder Alert of this terrific 2020-21 ski season. But there is still skiing with many areas partially open into May. This weekend will see more clouds and cooler weather with a little snow above 4,500 ft (1-4), mainly Saturday with partial clearing into Sunday.
Here is a list of areas remaining open (subject to change, see websites):
Mt Baker: Weekends until May 2
The Summit: Central and Alpental: last weekend April 24/25 (subject to change)
Crystal: open April 23- 25, then April 30, May1 & 2, May 7 9 All lifts open except Northway & Gold Hills! Open: 8:00 am 3:00 pm!
White Pass: Last weekend: 24 & 25
Mt Hood: Timberline: check website, summer skiing too!
Meadows: weekends until May 1
Mt Bachelor: daily 8:30-1:30 April 26-May 30 (subject to change)
Season wrap up:
Remember last fall, we werent even sure there would be skiing. What would skiing look like with masks, reservations and distancing? Plus, what would happen if there was an outbreak? Would ski areas close for the season? That happened at Whistler on March 30.
But with abundant snowfall and most folks doing their best to be being safe we had a pretty darn good season.
Early on, we were all excited with La Ninas promise of plentiful snowfall for the NW. And La Nina did deliver the goods. The snow came early with respectable snowfall in November and good coverage by Thanksgiving. My forecast was La Nina would provide near to above normal snowfall for the season and that was right on, as most areas were above normal.
I want to thank all the ski area employees who busted their butts making sure we were safe and could ski. A special thanks to the front line lifties and ticket checkers. You are the best!
December continued with robust snowfall and we were off and running with a wonderful ski season. January had more snowfall but also warm atmospheric river storms which stalled the snow accumulations for a time. Then La Nina really kicked in, with many cold powder storms in February, March and early April. The snowpack was about normal, then surged to above normal in February and March. Even in early April there was a rare very cold powder storm with a 500 ft snow level. Then spring skiing and sunshine would take over on a fabulous snow pack. Not a record snowpack, but well above normal. (120-173% above). Once again proving, but not guaranteeing, La Nina is a reliable long-range predictor of NW snowfall. Viva La Nina!
Next Season (2021-22):
This past seasons great snowfall was likely aided by La Nina. The deep and consistent snowfall made for delightful skiing with many snowfall refreshes. Thanks La Nina. Now we are moving into a Neutral pattern (La Nada). We wont know with confidence what phase will influence next winter until late summer. Neutral generally means a near normal snowpack for the Cascades, with some extreme weather along the way like a very cold spell, a big wind storm or low elevation (Seattle) snow.
But hang on. Recent modeling (see below) indicates we will move into a Neutral pattern for the summer - thats a done deal. However, if the model is correct, by next fall and winter the tropical Pacific will cool -- producing another La Nina. If that happens the odds favor another fabulous and snowy NW winter with normal to above normal snow season for 2021-22. So, get ready. Well have more confidence in a La Nina forecast by August or September.
Have a great summer. See ya next season.
Your Grand Poobah of Powder
Larry Schick Meteorologist