As of Wednesday, Mammoth saw 11 inches of fresh snow at Main Lodge- the first big dump of the season. The new snow pushed Mammoth Mountain’s opening day up to Saturday, November 5. The plan right now is to have chairs 1 and 6 open.
“Hopefully we’ll be able to have 3 open too, but that’s undetermined,” said Eric Clark, Chief Operating Officer of Resorts Services at Mammoth Mountain, during the Mammoth Lakes Tourism (MLT) meeting on Wednesday.
What will the rest of the snow season look like? The Sheet talked with Howard Sheckter, local weather extraordinaire, to get the scoop.
“My best guess right now is that Saturday night and into Sunday, and then especially Monday, we will see our next storm. It’s really too soon to be guessing on how much snow it will bring, but it’s gonna start out warmer- it might rain in town when it gets going on Saturday night, and then by Sunday night it will most likely turn into snow,” said Sheckter.
The next storm will come from Texas and pick up cold air from Alaska. By Friday night and into Saturday, it will go through the Gulf of Alaska and along the coast of British Columbia. By Sunday morning, it will be off the coast of Vancouver Island. And by later Sunday, it will be in Mammoth.
“By Monday, we should see snow for sure. I mean, a lot of things can happen to this storm. And right now it’s looking like it could produce up to several feet of snow. Maybe a good three feet,” said Sheckter.
By Wednesday, November 9, the snow should subside.
The Sheet asked Sheckter what his prediction further out into the season looks like.
“From what I can see, we’re going to see more storms between now and Thanksgiving, including the one that I expect on Monday. At least a couple more after that. December is looking less certain,” said Sheckter.
By Sheckter’s best predictions, January will be pretty wet. Then a dry February and March, and an average April.
“It’s looking a lot more positive for the winter to be at least a normal season, as compared to last year where we barely got any snow,” said Sheckter.
This is the third La Nina year in a row for the region; according to Weather.gov, “during a La Nina year, the changes in Pacific Ocean temperatures affect the patterns of tropical rainfall. These changes in tropical rainfall patterns affect weather patterns throughout the world. La Nina episodes in the winter months feature a wave-like jet stream flow across the United States and Canada, which causes colder and stormier than average conditions across the North, and warmer and less stormy conditions across the south.”
Sheckter explained: “So for Northern California, the bias becomes a little bit wetter than normal, and for Southern California, it’s a bit drier than normal. In central California, it’s kind of 50/50: it can be dry, it can be wet. For our particular area, it’s definitely variable. We just came off of two dry La Nina years, so I would imagine we’re probably going to have a much better winter this year. I mean, how many times can you keep rolling a seven, you know?”
Sheckter says that people should get their skis and snowboards ready to ride. “Overall, the snowpack this Thanksgiving should be fairly decent. If the next storm comes in the way it’s showing, it should be really good base-building. The mountain will soon have plenty of snow.”