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Fall produces below-average snow accumulation for Whistler

November snowfall dropped 112cm
Powder Patch Boarders and skiers, like Veronique Hamel and James Cattanach, found the powder. Photo by Mitch Winton/

Comparing the snowfall accumulations from last year to this year makes it clear the first two months of this winter season fall well short of an average snow year.

Deep snow was hard for skiers and boarders to find and according to Sea to Sky amateur meteorologist Jason Ross, and a series of high-pressure weather systems are to blame. The systems just haven't allowed the weather conditions required for snow accumulations.

"Normally, there's 35cm of snow at the Nesters site on the ground — this year there's nothing," said Ross of the weather data coming from the Environment Canada weather station in Whistler between the start of November and the Winter Solstice on Dec. 21. "It is a little strange."

He said the normal storm cycle in November and December just didn't materialize this year.

"The systems that we've had, have been relatively weak with not a lot of snow," said Ross, who volunteers with Environment Canada as a severe weather watcher. "We've had some big warm ups with high freezing levels."

Environment Canada statistics show November brought 14 days of snowfall with the largest daily accumulation measured at the Nesters weather station topping out at eight centimetres. Most of the November snow days delivered between one and four centimetres. Contrast those numbers to 2012 when it snowed on 11 days in November but most days brought between 10 and 19 centimetres to the Nesters weather station.

According to Whistler Blackcomb statistics the November snowfall this year was 112cm while last November the mountains reported an accumulation of 217cm in the first big snow month of the season.

In December, the numbers were similar. Last year, Mother Nature blessed WB with 343cm in December. According to Environment Canada records, snow fell most days in the month. A storm on Dec. 20 dropped 20cm last year.

The 2013 accumulation was way down in the first three weeks of the month.

Ross noted one of the more significant snow events this season was the 13 centimetres dropped Dec 20 and 21.

"It is a little concerning that we haven't been getting our snow pack," said Ross.

Even the Callaghan Valley, which usually logs snow accumulations greater than the amounts measured by Whistler Blackcomb, is suffering from a lack of snow. A BC Coast Cup cross-country ski race scheduled for early December had to be postponed due to a lack of snow.

Ross pointed out other resort areas also felt early-season snow pain.

"At Mount Washington it is the same," he said. "They had nothing to ski on at Mount Washington. It's not just Whistler Blackcomb, it's the entire area."

As for the long-range forecast, Ross said it is all over the place so he wouldn't offer any predictions for January.

Environment Canada show no significant accumulations of snow for the next several days.