What El Niño? Stevens Pass sets recent record for skier visits

Jupiter Cam Web camera atop Stevens Pass (Photo courtesy: Stevens Pass Ski Resort)

STEVENS PASS, Wash. -- The ski resorts stared down one of the strongest El Niños on record... and managed to survive.

Despite odds that tilted the weather in favor of another warm, less-than-ideal snow season this past winter, Mother Nature bucked the trend and delivered a nearly normal snow season.

That was music to the ski industry, fresh off one of their most dismal ski seasons on record. Stevens Pass, who wrapped up for the season over the weekend, announced Tuesday that skier visits were more than double last year's -- 132% more, in fact. It's the most skiers they've had since they've been electronically counting all their visitors in the 2008-09 season.

They finished the season at 427 inches of total snow, or 92.8% their normal season of 460 inches. (Snoqualmie Pass also had the exact same percentage of normal: 92.8%) Typical El Niño seasons bring about 75-80% of normal snowpack so they did luck out quite a bit.

But it wasn't just how much snow fell over the season, but when it fell. December was an epic snow month with 147 inches falling at Stevens and 194" falling at Snoqualmie Pass. That made for plenty of new snow over the lucrative Winter Break, which also spilled into a very busy January as well.

Could they break the record again next year? Maybe...

Odds continue to increase of this winter trending toward La Niña, which tends to favor a cooler, wetter winter and healthy snowpacks.

Stevens Pass reports the last time a La Niña followed a "very strong" El Niño, their resort recorded a season total of 763 inches of snow. We'll cross our fingers!

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