It’s evident by now that this will go down as one of the more incredible skiing and snowboarding seasons in recent history, in terms of snowfall, at resorts throughout Europe and North America.
Many are boasting more pre-January snow than ever and some are approaching totals that surpass their season averages — with three months left in the season.
But only one resort can claim supremacy when it comes to how much powder blankets its slopes: Mammoth Mountain Ski Area, which has proudly announced via social media platforms that it has “the most snow in the world.”
The claim is backed by Skiinfo.com, which keeps track of base depths at resorts around the world. Mammoth, which is nestled on California’s eastern slope of the Sierra Nevada mountains, is No. 1 with a base depth of 559 centimeters, or 221 inches, or 18-plus feet.
Mammoth is followed by Mt. Washington Alpine Resort (518 cm) on Vancouver Island, and Ghiacciaio Presena – Adamello (450 cm) in Italy. Rounding out the top five on the list are Alpine Meadows (450 cm) and Sugar Bowl (356 cm) in the Lake Tahoe area, in the northern Sierra Nevada range.
Actual snowfall for the season at Mammoth, which picked up 2-3 feet Tuesday night into Wednesday, is 290 inches.
“As far back as we’ve kept records, we’ve never had this much snow this early,” said Joani Lynch, spokeswoman for the sprawling resort. “That’s really the thing: that this much snow has fallen in the month of December.”
Mammoth, which has been keeping records since 1969-70, averages 400 inches per season. Its biggest snowfall season was in 2005-06, when it received 578 inches and remained open into July.
It’s ahead of pace to surpass that this season because of a storm track that has delivered the most powerful storms directly into the Mammoth area from the Pacific, rather than from the north over land via the Lake Tahoe area.
“The kind of storms that produce a lot of snow are storms with a strong westerly flow off the Pacific,” said Ken Clark, a senior meteorologist with Accuweather.com. “As as they hit the Sierra and begin to rise they ring out as much moisture as possible.”
Clark said that Mammoth benefitted immensely from a major storm in Mid-December, which stalled over the region for several days, dropping nearly 15 feet of snow. In a two-day period alone, on Dec. 17-18, Mammoth received more than six feet of powder.
“Those storms were more aimed at at the southern Sierra than the central Sierra and that’s where they got the 15 feet of snow,” Clark said. “Lake Tahoe did well also, don’t get me wrong, but they didn’t get anywhere near 15 feet.”
Lynch said the latest storm was expected to clear out late Wednesday, giving way to at least a few days of bluebird skies. Skiers and snowboarders will be thankful for that.
In a manner of speaking, they’ll be feeling on top of the world.
— Mammoth images are courtesy of Peter Morning