What can you expect if you’re in the ski industry? We have your long-range forecast from AccuWeather’s business weather experts.
La Niña and the polar vortex are two factors that will determine which areas will get ski-worthy snowfall
Interior Northeast should see the best conditions for an excellent ski season
Some parts of the East could deal with less than ideal warming periods through December and further into the season
Start of the Season
The holiday season may be at the forefront of everyone’s minds right now, but ski season is also kicking off. As resorts nationwide are getting ready to open their doors, what winter weather impacts can owners and vendors expect this year? Our team of long-range forecasters, led by Senior Meteorologist Paul Pastelok, has your first look.
Several factors will shape this year’s ski season, but perhaps the most influential will be the presence of La Niña, in which water temperatures in the Pacific Ocean near the equator are lower than normal for an extended period of time. This pattern can greatly influence which areas will get winter storms with snowfall and which parts of the country will see the coldest air.
Overall this season, resorts across the Upper Midwest, northern Rockies, and Northwest will greatly benefit from La Niña, with more frequent storms with cold air. Meanwhile, areas farther south in the U.S. will be less fortunate and see warmer air come through.
Another key factor is the Polar Vortex, a weather phenomenon that consists of a large area of cold air and low pressure that permanently hovers around the polar regions. When the polar vortex weakens near the pole, frigid air can at times break loose and plunge southward toward the U.S.
So what can ski areas across the nation expect? Let’s break it down by region:
East: An excellent ski season is shaping up across the interior Northeast for areas from northern Pennsylvania and western New York up through Vermont, New Hampshire, and parts of Maine. However, some warmups in the middle of December, and later in the winter season, could interfere with ideal snowmaking weather. Far northern areas of the East will do much better this season because they are likely to avoid the worst of these warmups.
Midwest: Below-normal temperatures and plenty of cold spells should make a good season in the Midwest. A good snowpack has formed across Canada and this may limit the number of warmer air masses from extending north across the area.
West: The best ski conditions in this region will likely be found in the Northwest where a series of winter storms has brought snow to higher elevations. The case could be different for areas further south from Central California to southwestern Utah, southern Colorado, and northern New Mexico. An area of high pressure across the Southwest has recently allowed dryness to build in spots and temperatures to rise, a pattern attributed to La Niña.
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