The Whistler Snow Report: Updated for 2018/2019
With Whistler’s opening day 2018 headed our way, everybody in Whistler, including all the staff at Forged Axe Throwing, are holding their breath for a whisper of snow. Its this time of year that the Whistler snow report gets a lot of attention. Anyone who loves pow waits eagerly for news of snow falling.
Here is a reminder from Whistler’s opening day 2017 – epic snow fall and an opening day for the record books.
Here is to hoping this year is just as epic! Once the snow starts, everybody looks to see if it will keep falling. People want to know what the snowfall is, what the base is and how cold it is.
Knowing where to turn for your local Whistler snow report is super helpful to planning your trip to Whistler, and figuring out what day you are going to call in sick. Here is a guide to all things Whistler snow report related, including how to read a snow report, and tools to look out for.
Quick Tips for Reading a Snow Report Effectively
It’s easy to feel overwhelmed with a whole lot of data that actually isn’t useful. Here are a few tips to help you quickly read through and absorb the relevant information, typically included on a snow report:
- Local and Regional Forecast: Check out a local forecast as well as a regional forecast. The Government of Canada usually is one of the most reliable sources of regional weather data, whereas the Whistler Blackcomb site is created by a third-party team. It’s concise but notably not detailed. Regional forecasts like the Government of Canada website, will give a systematic forecast method that allows you to compare across regions. But, you’ll need to check out your local mountain too because regional will not focus too much on local topography. By cross-referencing the two predictions, you can see what they agree on.
- Terms & Conditions: Any beginners out there may not be able to grasp the lingo of snow, as detailed in snow reports. As the old legend goes, the Inuit had hundreds of names for snow, but today so do skiers and snowboarders. Ask your friends for advice, read of the helpful few tips below, and soon you’ll be able to speak the language of snow too.
- Acknowledge Uncertainty: When you use weather information to plan out your ski trip, consider what is being predicted but also acknowledge uncertainty. Making a plan based on weather can be a cause for disappointment. It’s best to check out the Whistler snow report three days in advance, but follow up with other weather tools as well.
- Historic Data: It’s important to look at past trends to understand what kind of snow you might be dealing with. If you hear of Whistler getting two feet of new snow, great news right? But what kind of snow is it? Predict the type of snow by checking out historic trends. Chances are, you’re not going to experience powder days in the early part of the season or anytime past mid-March. By looking at past temperatures and precipitation trends, you are more prepared to suss out perfect ski days.
The Best Whistler Snow Report Resources
Looking through a few of the snow forecasts will give you a better idea of what’s happening up on the mountain. For example, you may find that certain websites have better readability while others have past historical snow reports that help you see the trends in the previous years.
Many reports have webcams views as well. If you’re really interested in knowing all the intricate details of the snow report, you’ll want to analyze all the information you can.
Taking the time to learn about freezing levels and precipitation, you’ll be able to figure out what terrain will suit you on any given day.
On the Snow
Head to On the Snow for basic coverage over the whistler snow conditions. Any snow nerds out there may want to skip ahead to Whistler Blackcomb reports or Snow Forecast, but On the Snow is straightforward approach to snow for the novice reader. Why get bogged down on all the details if you don’t need to? Check out the weather, snowfall, and wind conditions for the day you intend to hit the slopes. If Whistler doesn’t look perfect, On the Snow makes it easy to check out other local resorts conditions at the click of a button.
Whistler Blackcomb Official Snow Report
Your go-to local snow report, right from the source. The Whistler Blackcomb report is a good combination of the basic essential information (temperature, accumulation), with some added features for those who like a bit more predictability (past information, future predictions etc). Bonus because they have live updates from the four main pit stops on mountain, and webcams. Webcams really and truly tell you what the weather is going to be like mid and peak mountain. Hence, why we all are glued to our screens this time of year – is it snowing yet?
Epic Mix Vail Resorts’ Full Coverage Mobile App
Vail, the company behind Whistler and dozens of other ski resorts around the world, have placed resort conditions at the tip of your finger tips – even at the top of Blackcomb. Unlike a simple third-party snow report, the Epic Mix app gives you real-time conditions from the mountain of your choice.
Want to find the newly groomed runs? What about how long the gondola line up is or which runs are open? This is all part of the benefit of the Epic Mix mobile app. Of course, a good run down of mountain-specific weather conditions is also included. Available to download in the Apple or Google Play app stores.
Snow Forecast Ski Conditions
A website which will look familiar to anyone who surfs, the Snow Forecast website is a deep dive into your 6-day forecast. Covering detailed weather, temperatures, snow fall, freezing level and more, you’ll come away with enough information to build a big day out.
Choose base, mid-mountain or peak, and dig into the details over the next six days. This is for the true nerds out there, who carefully choose when they hit the mountain based on the perfect set of prime conditions. Give it a read, and figure out what day are you going to call in sick?
Mountain FM Radio
Maybe you are driving up to Whistler for a day of skiing, and don’t have time to check the weather before hand. Set your dial Mountain FM 102.1 in Whistler and 107.1 in Squamish – and these fine folks will set the records straight.
During snow season they give hourly updates on the on-mountain conditions, the in village weather, as well as helpful updates on traffic. Believe us, we’ve relied on their timely updates more than a few times as we head north to Whistler for the day.
Understanding Current Conditions at Whistler Blackcomb
The current conditions are brought together by statistics from overnight snowfall. These statistics are picked up from the weather station at the 1650m mark of Whistler Mountain. The Pig Alley weather station measure accumulated snowfall. It also measures the following;
- Relative humidity
- Barometric pressure
- Wind direction
The amount of snow that falls and its accumulation does vary in Whistler’s alpine areas, but the zone of Pig Alley should be a good a snapshot of on-mountain conditions.
If you are only relying on the freezing point to gauge how your day of skiing will be, it could be challenging. If the freezing level is at the 1650 m mark, you might wake up to rain, but actually, the mountain has plenty of powder. Checking out the mountain webcams can help you determine what’s going up on the hill at each measured elevations.
Past Snow Reports Give You an Idea of What to Expect
For those interested in checking out previous season trends, this is accessible online. Compared to many of the other local mountains, Whistler Blackcomb is usually quite reliable for its snow fall year after year. Of course, some years are epic like 1999. Some, not so much (what are you going to do in whistler if it rains?).
Did you know that the Winter Olympics were held in Whistler in February 2010, and for the first time in recent memory, the mountain had no snow?
On average, the snowfall averages around 11.35 meters (37,2 feet) every year. A site like the Whistler Weather History gives you a simple graph of how much snowfall occurred during each month for the past ten years.
How to Read a Snow Report
A good Whistler snow report will break down all the critical details on expected weather. It also displays stats based on what the weather has already done. Pay attention to specifics, like the amount of powder, wind speeds, and base snow. If you know what runs you are hitting, the report can even break down each run to help you find the best pow, or groomed trails on the mountain. Here is what some of those options will look like:
- New snow reported
- Type of snow
- Snow depth at top lift
- Snow depth at base
- Fresh snow depth
- Days since last snow
- Wind speed and direction
- Temperatures at various points on mountain
- General weather conditions
- Historical data
- Open runs and lifts
Tips for the Newbie Reading a Snow Report
- When a snow report talks about the base, it is giving you an average depth of how much snow the resort has over the inbound skiable terrain. It’s not about how much freshly-fallen snow there is.
- If a ski report states the word ‘corn,’ it refers to wet, soft snow that is somewhat granular. Mealy snow is common during spring and is perfect for beginners.
- ‘Hard pack’ is at the other end of the spectrum to corn. Beginners should avoid these runs because they’re extremely slippery. Honestly, it’s not fun for anyone unless you like go straight down at Mach speed.
- Conditions will vary depending on what elevation the run is and also what direction the run faces. Some runs will get more sun or more exposure to cold winds, changing the snow conditions.
- To get the most accurate weather and snow forecast, a team of meteorologists and forecasters monitor details. They track storms and use a lot of satellite data to come up with the forecasting. Even the best forecasters with all their knowledge and data can be duped from time to time. A unpredicted powder day is finding the pot of gold at the end of a rainbow.
After checking out the conditions on the hill each morning, what are you waiting for? Thankfully we are waiting for you for a great Apres ski afterwards at Forged Axe Throwing. Open 11am to 11pm daily.