Record-breaking storms hit California
After massive storms buried California ski areas during the month of March, resorts are reporting record-breaking snowfall totals and extending their scheduled seasons well into spring.
A 150-inch storm over the last two weeks brought Squaw Valley's season total to 691 inches, which surpasses the resort's highest season snowfall total on record -- 662 inches set in the 1994-1995 winter season (resort records date back to 1970).
Squaw announced on Monday that the resort will stay open until May 30. "With this much snow, Squaw Valley will have great coverage through May 30 and possibly even longer," said Squaw's CEO Andy Wirth. "We will certainly be examining the possibility of opening for July 4, conditions permitting."
Alpine Meadows accumulated 253 inches at the top of the mountain over the two-week storm, with a March total of 281 inches and a season mountaintop total of 800 inches. Alpine's average annual snowfall is 450 inches.
On the south shore of Lake Tahoe, Kirkwood is claiming a season total of 692 to 713 inches, while Heavenly is reporting 500 inches of snow for the season, which is close to breaking the resort's 524-inch record from 1994-95.
Mt. Shasta Ski Park, in far northern California, has extended their season to April 23 after the town of Mount Shasta broke its monthly snowfall record by getting nearly 98 inches in March, 10 inches more than the 88-inch monthly record set in 1903.
And at Mammoth in central California, up to 17 feet fell during the last week and a half, making this month the second snowiest March in Mammoth's record books and bringing the season total to over 600 inches.
Outside of California, resorts are also getting smothered by late-season snow. A foot of new snow overnight at Utah's Snowbird Ski Resort brings the season total to 552 inches. The season total at Wyoming's Jackson Hole -- which closes for the season this Sunday, April 5 -- is at 538 inches. Jackson's season snowfall record, set in 1999, is 599.1 inches.
"We have had the winter of '96 -- 'ninety heaven', 2005 -- 'two thousand sick', and when it finally stops snowing maybe we will find a clever name for this one," says Jackson Hole spokesman Zahan Billimoria. "In the meanwhile, suffice to say that when we close on Sunday we will have some of the deepest snow ever recorded at this time of year. Start dreaming, it's almost next year."
Despite the record-breaking storms, Washington's Mt. Baker Ski Area still holds the world record for most snowfall in a season, 1,140 inches, set during the 1998-99 season.