UPDATE (1:30pm): Summit at Snoqualmie’s Alpental ski area just updated their snow totals – after receiving 27″ of new snow in the last 12 hrs up top, 17″ at the base, they are now tied with Mt. Baker for the #1 DEEPEST snow in North America with 146″ (based on top measurements and excluding only Eaglecrest, AK’s top measurements – details below).
Original story: The current Pacific NW storm brought over a foot of snow in just the last 12 hours to several of our ski resorts rocketing them to the top of our N. America ski resort snow depth rankings. As in past years, the King of Snow: Mt. Baker Ski Resort in Washington has the deepest snow in the lower 48 at both their base and top elevations. Eaglecrest in AK is reporting 1″ more at their top elevation; however, Eaglecrest has less than 1/3 the amount of snow at their base (42″ and 147″ at their base and top, respectively). So, Eaglecrest aside, our Washington and Oregon resorts dominate the rankings: with White Pass, WA 2nd after Mt. Baker, followed by Mt. Bachelor, Summit at Snoqualmie’s Alpental and Stevens Pass. Below is how those U.S. resorts with the top deepest snow depths stack up (based on resort’s own snow reports at top elevation – which sits lower than most base elevations in the Rockies).
Another more than 30″ is forecast for our zone by Wednesday (read: WA and OR will have the deepest snow in N. America including AK by the time this storm runs its course). We are definitely back to our normal winter pattern. According to NOAA’s Western Regional Climate Center (“NOAA”), our region: the western Cascade Mountains (which includes the western slope of the Cascade Range from the Columbia River to the Canadian Border and measured at elevations of approximately 1,000 ft – approx. 5,500 ft), receives in an average winter season, snowfall ranging from 400-600 inches at 4,000 to 5,500 feet. NOAA reports that: Some of the greatest seasonal snowfalls and snow depths in the U.S. have been recorded on the slopes of Mt. Rainer and Mt. Baker. The greatest seasonal snowfall recorded at Mt. Rainer-Paradise Ranger Station (elevation 5,500 ft) was 1,000 inches in 1955-56. Mt. Baker ski area beat that with a record breaking 1,140 inches of snowfall in 1998-99! These and other high peaks above 7,000 or 8,000 feet remain snowcapped throughout the summer – which is how we get to ski every month of the year in WA. Our snowline in midwinter varies from 1,500-2,000 feet above sea level – well below the base elevation of all resorts in the Rockies. Although snowfall continues until late spring allowing us to enjoy Cinco de Mayo annually with lift served fun, the maximum depth is usually reached during the first half of March when snow depths above 3,000 feet typically range from 10-25 feet. So there you have it: deep is the norm for us – so learn to enjoy it safely. If you haven’t already, sign up for avalanche awareness classes as the avalanche danger remains High. For those in our zone, check out the classes offered by Pro Guiding Service in N. Bend. Live to ski another day!