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New England Daily Snow

Season Recap 2020/21

Summary

Jay Peak notched another foot of snow during our last event on 4/22-23, but otherwise the season is mostly a wrap. The 20/21 season will go down as underwhelming in my book, but there were a few bright spots of good skiing with a massive storm in December, some good snow from the middle of January through February, and decent spring skiing through March into April.

Update

Storm Recap:

The storm that started on Wednesday and ended for most on Thursday (4/21-22) dropped a fresh foot of snow in total at Jay Peak and 7" at Sugarbush, good for just a bit lower than forecast. The storm also produced 1-4" at Killington, Sunday River, and Sugarloaf.

The latest snowfall won't last long as we are deep into spring with temperatures expected into the 40s over the weekend and into the 50s and 60s next week. The only shot at more snow is on Monday of next week with little accumulation expected across far Northern New England.

As reminder, Sunday River is open through Saturday with last chairs at Sugarloaf and Jay Peak on Sunday. Sugarbush is open this weekend, closed next week, then opening for one final weekend 5/1 and 5/2. Killington is not announcing a closing day yet.

Season Recap:

98 New England Daily Snows covered the 2020/21 season. In my opinion, the snow season will go down as overall underwhelming in my book, but there were a few "whelming" events, and two events that were possibly overwhelming.

Why so underwhelmed? The season had a slow start with very little if any snow falling in November to set the stage for early opening across the region. We had lots of bare ground as we went into December with only machine made snows accumulating along main resort lines whenever it was cold enough to blow. Our first good storm didn't arrive until December 5th, and that was a heavy wet, elevation dependent snow. The middle of season was punctuated by a big rain event on Christmas with widespread warm temperatures and snowpack melt. Then there was a record dry spell and one of the sunniest March months on record that produced a really fast decrease in the snow pack. And whenever it did snow, it always seemed like the next day had 30-below wind chills. The late start and early end to the snow accumulation season is readily seen at the Mt. Mansfield snow stake plot relative to their average season:

The one saving grace to the season was the relatively cool to occasionally cold periods in January and February that allowed for lots of snow making and the period from late January into February where we nickel'ed and dime'd our snowpack with several back-to-back events that pushed many resorts to 100% coverage and increasingly deeper bases that almost reached average. Some resorts reported new snow on more than 18 of the 28 days in February, with a daily max that never exceeded ~4-5".

Of course there were a couple bright spots in an underwhelming season.

There was the monster storm on 17 December that dropped more than 3 feet of snow in a corridor from Pennsylvania through New York, south-central Vermont, and southern New Hampshire. Mount Snow reported 25", Okemo came in with 35", and Magic reported close to 40". 

Image from the NOAA/National Operational Hydrologic Remote Sensing Center

There was another good storm on 15-18 January storm that dropped 1 to 2 feet of fresh powder across Vermont and New Hampshire. For the week of 17-23 January, Stowe reported 39" of new snow!

Overall snowfall across New England was alright, but below normal. Many locations up and down the Greens saw snowfall over 100", and also across the Whites into Maine. That's not abnormal. A few spots also got into the upper 100s and near 200". Again, that's not abnormal either.  The map below is an estimated snowfall for the season. High spots in northern New England states include:

  • New Hampshire: 195-200" near Franconia Notch in the western Whites near Cannon Mountain with amounts >150" east toward Mt. Washington and Wildcat.
  • Maine: 130-135" near Mt. Katahdin, >100" also near Sugarloaf and Sunday River
  • Vermont: >150" near Mount Snow north along the Greens to Killington and Sugarbush with a max >185" near Stowe to Jay (note that the interpolation ends at the US/Canada border... see note below of Jay Peak reported season total...) 

The totals above are estimated. Our ski resorts also provide their own seasonal totals. Here are a few season totals from some of the resorts mentioned above (as of 4/23):

  • Cannon: 130"
  • Wildcat: 103"
  • Mount Snow: 166"
  • Killington: 214"
  • Sugarbush: 177"
  • Stowe: 218"
  • Jay Peak: 303"

All in all it wasn't a terrible winter, especially given restrictions and reservations due to COVID. We can only hope that the snow will be better next winter and we'll be able to ski and ride November through April. 

I enjoyed writing the New England Daily Snow for you all this winter. See you next year.

Dr. Jay | New England Daily Snow

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