History points to epic winter 

Snowfalls generally higher in El Niño years

Predicting the weather months down the road is a tricky business, but this winter Whistler-Blackcomb has history – and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration – on its side.

The NOAA recently released its latest observations for the region and concluded, "these oceanic and atmospheric conditions reflect the presence of El Niño conditions."

During the last certified El Niño winter in 1997-98, huge Pacific storm cycles brought well above average snowfall to Whistler-Blackcomb.

In an average year, Whistler-Blackcomb gets approximately 914 centimetres (360 inches) of snowfall. During 1997-98, the mountains received more than 1,000 centimetres of snow, or almost 400 inches. There were huge storms in December, the second largest January snowfall in more than 20 years, and a top five snowfall in February.

El Niño, or the Southern Oscillation, refers to a meteorological phenomena whereby the warmer surface on the equatorial Pacific Ocean alters jet streams and the normal pattern of storms off the coast of South America and around the world.

While the last El Niño also resulted in devastating floods and storms causing billions of dollars of damage to coastal areas, the NOAA predicts that this warming period will be weaker.

Whistler-Blackcomb is currently looking at Nov. 23 as opening day for Blackcomb Mountain, and Nov. 28 for Whistler Mountain.

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