Ski season and El Nino; scientific and hopeful prognosis!

For you downhill skiers, XC trekkers and snowshoers, here’s a both a scientific and hopeful report, passed along by Dodge Ridge Ski Area, on the expected, near-term El Niño winter for the central sierra.

Hence, aficionados of skiing or snowshoeing in the Dodge Ridge/Highway 108, or Bear Valley/Hwy. 4 corridors, should have high expectations. And, as a 23 year member of the National Ski Patrol at Dodge Ridge, I can tell you about big winters versus light snow years. We’re all mindful of how the last one or started strong, then abruptly petered out about Christmas time. Here’s the insight, sent along by Dodge Ridge Ski Area:

Weather forecasters predict 102-136% of average snowfall for Dodge Ridge this winter

El Niño weather pattern likely means more storms and more snowfall for skiers + riders to enjoy.

The Dodge Ridge Kid's Club is a popular option for small and growing skiers!

Pinecrest, Calif. – Oct. 27, 2015: While news of a building El Niño pattern in the Pacific Ocean has been celebrated by Northern California skiers and snowboarders for months now, ski resort-oriented weather forecasting service OpenSnow recently released its prediction that Dodge Ridge will receive between 102-136% of its average snowfall this winter.

According to OpenSnow’s ‘Winter Ski Forecast for 2015/2016’: “While NOAA and other forecast services produce winter outlooks that focus on temperature, precipitation, and snowfall trends across the United States, no organization (that we know of!) has taken on the challenge of making a long-range snowfall forecast specifically for ski areas.”

OpenSnow’s forecasting team is basing its predictions for a snowy winter ahead for California largely on the El Niño pattern building in the equatorial Pacific.

Family enjoys the view and the skiing in Boulder Creek Canyon at Dodge Ridge Ski Area.

The El Niño effect at Dodge Ridge: Researchers with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) have said that the El Niño currently building in the Pacific looks to be the strongest such pattern in a generation – strong enough to rival those experienced during the 1997/98 and 1982/83 winters, a proclamation which gives skiers and snowboarders cause for excitement.

During the 1997/98 winter, Dodge Ridge received a total of 475 inches of snowfall at its base elevation of 6,600 feet – 146% of average (based on an average annual snowfall of 325 inches at the base) – and was open for a 131-day season from Dec. 10, 1997 through April 19, 1998. In 1982 the mountain opened on November 11, another epic El Niño year.

Only two days left for Dodge Ridge Season Pass Sale:  With weather forecasters lining up behind the idea that the 2015/16 El Niño-fueled ski season will be a good one, now is the time to invest in a Dodge Ridge unlimited season pass. Passes are on sale at preseason rates through Saturday, Oct. 31, with Adult/Teen passes for just $259, Child passes for just $99 and Senior passes for just $159.

Dodge Ridge notes that a season pass pays for itself in less than four visits, and comes with no blackout dates or restrictions. And all Dodge Ridge season passes come with additional bonus perks. For more information or to purchase, please see or call (209) 965-3474.

About Dodge Ridge Ski Resort: Located in Pinecrest, California, off Hwy. 108, Dodge Ridge is one of the closest skiing and riding options to Stockton and other Central Valley locations. The resort offers 1,600 vertical feet, 67 runs, 12 lifts and 862 acres of skiable terrain. For reservations and additional information please visit or call(209) 965-3474. I would add that Dodge Ridge prides itself in being a family ski resort, with marvelous learning programs for youth and a bright, airy Family Lodge to welcome families.

Watch for my update on skiing and “what’s new” at both Dodge Ridge and Bear Valley Resorts, and other skiing options in the central Sierra, coming soon when snow begins to fly!  Contact Tim Viall at Follow him at

Happy travels in the West!

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