This year’s ski season in California is on pace to be one of the longest seasons in the past several years due to the abundance of mountain snow that El Niño has delivered.
This is a significant turnaround from the past several winters when ski resorts in California were forced to close early due to a lack of snow.
Last season, Tahoe Donner Downhill Ski Area closed on Jan. 29. According to Ashely Quadros, the resort’s marketing content coordinator, the mountain typically stays open until the middle of April.
Other ski resorts echoed the return to a normal or a longer-than-normal season.
“We’ve come off of a couple pretty low snow years and this season has really been a return to a normal snow year for us,” Lauren Burke, public relations manager for Mammoth Mountain Ski Area, said.
Mammoth Mountain usually open their slopes around the middle of November and they remains open through Memorial Day weekend.
However, this winter is on pace to be an extended season for the ski resort due to the stormy El Niño weather pattern.
According to Burke, Mammoth Mountain opened ahead of schedule this season due to early-season storms, allowing skiers and snowboarders to hit the slopes about a week earlier than normal.
Additionally, the feet of snow that fell over California’s mountain ranges during the first half of March will help the resort stay open through the entire spring.
“We’re committed to staying open through Memorial Day, and then we [will] just reassess week by week how our snowpack is holding up,” Burke said. “So depending on how late-season storms come through, we’re really looking forward to a long season.”
Not only will ski resorts in California be able to stay open later this season, but they will also have more trails and terrain parks open for skiers and snowboarders.
“The terrain that we’re going to have available as we move through the spring is going to be a lot larger [than last year],” Burke said.
The increased snowfall and extended length of this year’s ski season has been a significant help to the ski industry in California following multiple years with poor conditions.
“With more snow comes higher visitation,” Burke said. “We’ve already surpassed last season’s total ski visits number, so we’ve definitely seen a great pickup this year and we are having a strong financial year.”
Following the snow drought and shorter season last year, some resorts are touting that winter of 2015-2016 ranks among their top seasons.
“This season has been our best yet and we can’t wait to see what else Mother Nature brings us [next] season,” Quadros added.