DENVER — Santa brought just what the nation's ski resorts wanted: the best nationwide snow conditions in several years.
From New England to California, the snow piled up in the days and weeks before Christmas. Even Taos, N.M., in the Desert Southwest had a 60-inch base.
"This is our best opening since 1977,” said Adriana Blake, marketing director for Taos. The resort couldn't open for Thanksgiving but later got 68 inches in a week. "This is crazy. It never snows like this.”
In November, with a few exceptions, some of the most popular resorts in the Rockies and California delayed their openings because of a lack of snow. Most only offered limited terrain because of an unusually balmy and dry fall that produced disastrous wildfires.
Then the jet stream moved south, and the snow began to fall, and fall, and fall. Wolf Creek, Colo., which usually has the deepest base in the state, has suffered for the past two years. It debuted in late November with less than 10 inches. A week before Christmas, it had 115 inches.
"It is spectacular. For the first time in recent history, the industry is up and operating across the country,” said Michael Berry, president of the National Ski Areas Association.
Sugarbush was close to being 100 percent booked for Christmas, a record for the Vermont resort. Also in Vermont, Mad River Glen, which relies mostly on natural snow, reported 100 percent open.
New England struggled last year. The Vermont Ski Areas Association said 59 percent of Vermont's 1,242 trails were open as of Dec. 10, compared with 14 percent at the same time last year.
The snow has been good from the start at Whistler-Blackcomb, British Columbia, the busiest resort in North America.
"The skiers take note of that. If one region suffers, the skiers take note of that and tend to generalize that there is no snow,” said Connie Marshall, spokeswoman for Alta, Utah's legendary powder palace.
Mammoth's 14-inch base had grown to 45 inches. Squaw Valley, near Lake Tahoe, went from 5 inches to 40 inches.