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East and West. 

The two sides of the country are experiencing two very different winters: In the West, consistent cold and snow since November. In the East, warm and below average snowfall. And in the middle, both extremes at the same time.


Big Bear Resort CA 1Mountain High, CA & Wintergreen, VAUtah is having quite possibly its snowiest winter ever. Alta hit 500 inches on Valentine’s Day, the earliest it ever reached that mark in its long-recorded history. Brighton and Snowbird are also well over that mark. In fact, Alta and Snowbird had to go into “interlodge” lockdown February 21, when the state closed Little Cottonwood Canyon for avalanche control work. As much as 28 inches of snow fell in 24 hours during that most recent storm.

“This season has been one for the record books,” said Alison Palmintere, communications director at Ski Utah. “Skiers are coming as well. News has spread, both U.S. and international.” 

Other western resorts are also enjoying great snow, and have already made plans to stay open longer as a result. 

Steamboat, Colo., is extending its season by one week to April 16. This is only the third time in its history and the first time since 1993 that it has extended its season. Sugar Bowl Resort, Calif., will also extend it season by two weeks until April 23, and offer a special Spring Pass and ticket beginning March 1. The resort announced the extended season in mid-February, the earliest ever. 

“In 2016-17, we stayed open until May but we didn’t make the call until mid-April,” said Jon Slaughter, executive director of marketing and sales. “This year I really wanted to get in front of it since we are selling the Spring Pass now.”

Slaughter said the resort was pacing well ahead of last year despite disruptions caused by the plentiful snowfall. “The only bummer is many of this season’s storms have hit on holiday weekends, closing the interstate, so we have lost several high-volume days. But the overall consistency has been higher so we will come out ahead, especially given the extended season by two weeks.”

California, better known for its drought conditions the last several years, is experiencing one of its wettest, snowiest winters in decades. Most recently, as of Feb. 28, a “historic” storm has dumped 103 inches of snow on Mountain High in SoCal since Feb. 23—and more is in the forecast—but skiers and riders are still waiting to get to all that pow: the roads to the resort have been closed since Saturday, and as a result, so has Mountain High  

"It’s the biggest storm that anyone can remember or find records for,” said CEO Karl Kapuscinski.

Other nearby ski resorts also reported massive snow dumps, including Big Bear and Snow Summit (78 inches in the last seven days). Roads leading to Big Bear were still closed as of Feb. 28, but the resort was operating.

Farther north, Christopher Nicolson, president and CEO of Canada West Ski Areas Association, said western Canada is also in a good weather cycle with current systems bringing snow and setting ski areas up well for March break visitation. He said the surge from local and regional markets has continued into this year, including new participants to snowboarding and skiing. Long haul destination markets are also rebounding significantly this winter from the last couple of years.   

“We expect most destination areas will have reclaimed 2019 visitation levels by the end of the season,” Nicolson said.


In the East, the difficult season that has been marked by wild weather swings continues to bump along. 

One of the few snowstorms this winter in the Northeast that came through late in Presidents’ week underperformed in most areas relative to the forecast, and caused several ski areas in southern Vermont to delay openings due to icing. That’s the kind of season it’s been. 

Just one example of the lackluster snow year is Mount Snow, Vt. The resort has gotten more than a foot of snow during the last week of February—which is good—bringing its season total to 81 inches—a little more than half its annual average of 150 inches.  

Above average temperatures have been another problem plaguing the East. On Presidents’ Day, Feb. 20, it was 68 degrees at Wachusett, Mass.

Not surprisingly, more southerly resorts have already closed. Ober Mountain, Tenn., Winterplace, W.Va., and Wolf Ridge, N.C., among others, are closed for the season. Several lower-Midwest ski areas have also closed earlier than normal due to warm weather and low snow, including Paoli Peaks, Ind. Whitetail, Pa., followed suit, with last chair going up Feb. 26.  

And despite a valiant effort to keep the ski season going by making snow at every opportunity, Wintergreen, Va., also reluctantly put the wraps on the 2022-23 season Feb. 26. Christian Knapp, VP/chief marketing officer of Pacific Group Resorts Inc. (PGRI), which owns Wintergreen, said the rest of the PGRI family of resorts remained on track to hit their projected closing dates: March 26 for Wisp, Md.; April 2 for Ragged, N.H., and Powderhorn, Colo.; April 10 for Mount Washington, B.C.; and April 30 for Jay Peak, Vt. 

Meanwhile, the upper Midwest has had a good ski season, including 6 to 20 inches of new snow the last week of February.

“Ski conditions in much of the Midwest are fantastic,” said Amy Reents, executive director, Midwest Ski Areas Association. “Many upper Midwest areas will be open through March and a few in the way north are staying open into April.”

Granite Peak, Wis., picked up three inches overnight Feb. 24, “which was unexpected,” said GM Greg Fisher. “In the last week, we’ve had 15 inches, which is not normal. It’s added to our base.”

Fisher said the season was pacing slightly behind last year’s record breaker, but “with a good March, we may catch up and pass last year’s numbers.” 

He noted that weekends were busy, but midweek business was down. Night skiing, however, was way up across the board, both weekends and midweek. He’s not sure if it’s due to time or money. 

“The 5-to-9 time slot is very affordable, only $30. I don’t know if it’s inflation, people wanting to hold onto their money, or just wanting to get outside.” 

Operationally, January was tough for snowmaking because of very little sun (only 2 of 31 days) and lots of low-hanging clouds and humidity.

“Normally, we’re done snowmaking and 100 percent open by MLK weekend,” Fisher said. “This year because of the clouds and humidity, we didn’t finish snowmaking until the very end of January. It didn’t affect visitation, just how we operated. It was a little frustrating from an operational point of view.”

Some resorts in the eastern half of North America are still having a successful season, including those in Quebec. According to the Quebec Ski Areas Association (ASSQ), “ski resorts in Quebec are having a very good season so far. Weekends are very busy and all beginner programs are sold out.”

ASSQ said resorts are seeing Americans and Ontarians coming back after the pandemic, and season passes are also on the rise.

Will it be another winter like 2021-22 that sees strong visitation nationwide despite challenges brought on by weather extremes? It’s certainly possible. After all, resorts reported successful Christmas and MLK holiday periods, and there’s plenty of winter left for northern and western areas.