The El Niño climate of the 2015-2016 winter has resulted in massive dumps of snow across the North American West. Beginning the new year with more than three-foot-high snowpacks, skiiers and snowboarders have flocked in droves, creating a strong rebound after a year of poor snowfall and profits.
Jackson Hole Mountain Resort had all of its lifts open this year by Dec. 15. Between Dec. 24 and Jan. 4, the area received a minimum of 3 inches of snow on a daily basis. The highest concentration came between Dec. 28 and Dec. 31 when it dumped over 7 inches every day, with more than a foot (14 inches total) falling on Dec. 29.
For some areas, however, the strong result to the season has merely returned conditions back to normal. Portland residents were happy to ski the Mount Hood Snowbowl as early as Dec. 16. This marks a normal December for the coastal area, but in relation to the previous two seasons, it is a godsend.
"The big thing is, as long as we get open before Christmas break, that's a good opening," said Skibowl spokesman Hans Wipper, according to the Portland Tribune.
For western Canadian ski resorts, the opening has been above average. With high snowfall combined with a weak Canadian dollar, U.S. tourists have stampeded over the border.
"Not only did we have the best revenues and skier visits but we beat the previous record by 51 percent," said general manager of Apex Mountain Resort James Shalman, according to the Vancouver Sun.
The rate of American visitors to certain resorts in British Columbia has risen over 35 percent. "I think we are trending towards having one of the best seasons on record," said Erik Kalacis, marketing manager of Silver Star Mountain Resort, according to the CBC.
Whether snowfall in the West has resulted in massive profits, or simply returned business to normal, it far outpaces the beginning of the season back East. The temperature rose to 68 degrees in Northern Vermont on Christmas Day, making even artificial snow-making impossible.
"It's been a difficult first third," said Michael Barry, president of the National Ski Areas Association, according to International Business Times. "Snow-making is ubiquitous in the industry, but it's particularly important in the eastern part of the country."