Could this be the year Vail Mountain finally reaches its reported snow average of 354 inches? |

Could this be the year Vail Mountain finally reaches its reported snow average of 354 inches?

Accounts vary depending on where you look

A shelf of snow rests precariously atop a building in the Eagle's Nest area of Vail Mountain on Tuesday. It has been an above average year in terms of snow-water equivalent, but not quite average according to Vail Mountain's mid-mountain snowstake.
John LaConte/Vail Daily

If you follow the daily snow report on, you may have noticed that the 4 inches of fresh snow recorded Tuesday on the mid-mountain snow stake brought the resort to 333 cumulative inches on the season.

That brought Vail even with the 2018-19 season, a season that concluded with 333 inches cumulative, which is just a few inches shy of the 2015-16 season, which ended with 337 inches total. Those readings come courtesy of the Vail Daily’s Closing Day coverage, in which Vail Daily reporters checked the cumulative total on closing day and recounted the total issued on that website.

And while those closing day totals in 2018-19 and 2015-16 come close, no cumulative total recorded on Vail’s mid-mountain snow stake in the last decade has reached the mountain’s reported average of 354 inches on the ‘Mountain Info’ page on Could this be the year?

“We’ll probably add to the total before the ski season is done,” said Meteorologist Joel Gratz with “But whether that’s feet of snow, or inches of snow, I don’t know.”

Gratz said we’re likely to continue to see some snow showers on Wednesday, and we could see more around April 14-18. But before then, “we should have spring slush grilling weather from Sunday, April 9 to Wednesday or Thursday April 13-14,” Gratz said.

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As for the 354 average itself, “I can neither confirm nor deny” if that’s accurate, Gratz said. “I don’t have the data.”

Vail Mountain, when asked to share its data, provided a 20-year snapshot of snow totals from 2002 to 2022, which average 345 inches over that 20-year period. But those totals are quite a bit different from those collected by the Vail Daily at the end of each season. For example, Vail Mountain’s 2018-19 season total is reported by the resort to be 397 inches, while the Vail Daily reported 333 inches total in its Closing Day coverage, which referenced the cumulative total as collected from the resort’s mid-mountain snow stake.

Vail Mountain spokesperson John Plack said the discrepancy is due to the fact that Vail Mountain, when compiling its moving 20-year average, uses snow totals from a different snow stake than that which it uses throughout the season on the “mountain conditions” tab. Vail Mountain uses the snow stake at patrol headquarters (located at the top of the mountain near the confluence of chairs 4, 5 and 11) for its official records, as opposed to the mid-mountain snow stake.

“We record keep from PHQ as a part of our official snow count for the record books,” Plack said. “With such a large mountain that has significant orographic effects, we see differences in snow accumulation depending upon the location.”

Here are the cumulative snow totals from the mid-mountain snow stake for the 5-year period from 2015 to 2019, as recorded on and transcribed by the Vail Daily in its Closing Day coverage each year:

2015: 276 inches
2016: 337 inches
2017: 224 inches
2018: 171 inches
2019: 333 inches

And here are the totals from the patrol headquarters snow stake, as provided by Vail Mountain:

2015: 279 inches
2016: 346 inches
2017: 298 inches
2018: 239 inches
2019: 397 inches

An graphic depicts snow-water equivalent for this season on Vail Mountain.
Courtesy image

Regardless of what the future has in store for this season, it has been an above-average year in terms of snow-water equivalent, Gratz said, referencing the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s snow telemetry (SNOTEL) site on Vail Mountain. That SNOTEL site is located next to Vail Mountain’s mid-mountain snow stake.

“We’re at 119 percent of average,” Gratz said. “Now that doesn’t necessarily tell you if the amount of snow is exactly on average, above average or below average, but in terms of how much water is in the snow, we’re nicely above average with a pretty consistent trend through the whole season.”

Vail Mountain snowpack is currently at 119% of average according to a SNOTEL site on Vail Mountain.
Courtesy image/

Visitors to Gratz’s website,, can get SNOTEL and other data by becoming paid subscribers.

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