During the Fall when I was looking at the conditions for the upcoming Winter it reminded me of the 07/08 La Nina season. I am going to use Northstar as an example. I remember riding Northstar on New Year’s with a friend on New Years Day and we were still stuck with the snowmaking trails because as of that date we had only received 37 inches at the base so far. You can see the snowfall tracking here.

This year they are only up to 18 inches so far but we could pick up a few inches from the storm next Thursday and later in the month. There was a big flip in the pattern that year on the 4th of January starting with the superstorm. That storm was predicted to bring 10 feet of snow but brought 5 inches of rain and then 5 feet of snow with 2 more with subsequent storm on it’s heels that week.

It felt like it didn’t stop snowing all month and by the end of January the snowfall at the base of the mountain had more than quadrupled to 159 inches. At the summit it had gone from 54 to 212 inches. Here is a video showing KCRA on Donner Summit talking about how the snowpack was triple that of the previous season by the end of January. The snowpack was at 110% of average and everyone was talking about how big of a year it was, and less than 4 weeks earlier it was one of the worst starts to the season on record.

By the end February the snowfall was up to 225 inches at the base and 304 inches at the summit. So at the point we were still ahead with 87% of the average seasonal snowfall at only two-thrids of the way through the season. I was living in Tahoe Donner and I remember all the shoveling those two months. And then…..it just stopped in March and we ended just below average at 329 inches to an average of 350 inches for Northstar.

So you can see that once the La Nina pattern takes hold in Winter it can go crazy and we can catch up really fast. We’ll have to see if we can get a repeat this January and February. This time we just hope that the season lingers a little longer at the end. BA

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