Meteorologists can’t always make an accurate prediction, but we’re quite good at analyzing what has happened in the past. And since I find seasonal snow forecasts unreliable, lets stop predicting and instead look back at the 2013-2014 season to see which mountains received the most snow.
Focusing on the Western US, the northern Rockies were the clear winners, from Northern Colorado to Wyoming, Montana, and northern Idaho. This area received 125-150% of average snowfall, and Jackson Hole was in the epicenter of the storm track and recorded fresh powder nearly every day in February.
Further West, the mountains in Utah had a slow start, but climbed back toward average by the end of the season. Most areas along the West coast fell a little short with Tahoe finishing at about 50% of average, while Northern Oregon had slightly better numbers of 60-80% of average. Washington also started the season with little snow, but a few weeks of intense dumpage (technical term!) in February and early March helped these mountains catch up to normal.
In the Central and Eastern part of the country, the big story was the consistently cold air. In fact, the winter temperatures in Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Michigan were low enough to make this the 6th, 5th, and 10th coldest winter on record, respectively. This cold air was also present over the Northern Rockies and in New England, which is why both regions had excellent snow conditions for most of the winter and recorded near average amounts of snow.
I truly hope that you experienced at least a few powder days this season, as there were plenty to be had. However, if you didn’t get your fill of powder and are already itching for next season, then here’s a little tidbit to help you start planning. The only time I would trust a snow forecast for an upcoming season is when there is a strong La Nina or El Nino. Well, for the 2014-2015 season, there is a good chance that we’ll see a moderate, or perhaps strong El Nino. If El Nino does come to fruition, then you might want to focus next season’s powder pursuits on the Southwestern US, from South Tahoe to Mammoth, Utah, Arizona, New Mexico, and Southern Colorado. Check the El Nino forecast later this summer, and if El Nino is still a good bet, then it should be “game on” in the Southwest next season.
* Thank you to Tony Crocker (bestsnow.net) for providing some of the data used in this article.