El Nino is not only an interesting oceanic and atmospheric phenomenon, it's also a major factor in how awesome your next ski vacation is going to be. That's because El Nino directly impacts precipitation which we all know is the key ingredient for fun (aka snow...if you're not into science).
Since it's predicted that the 2015 El Nino will carry into Spring of 2016, this could be very good news for North American ski enthusiasts looking for an extended season.
About El Ninos and Predictions
Before anyone gets all worked up about hitting the slopes this season, keep one important thing in mind -- predictions of El Ninos are still weather predictions. This means it's difficult to say just how much they're going to impact certain ski resorts, or just how strong they will be.
However, El Ninos do tend to follow a typical pattern (see image below).
You can tell by the image that "wet" and "cool" can be a very good combination for mountain junkies. The trick is predicting where that glorious combination will be.
While each El Nino is unique, this map perfectly illustrates two common aspects about a majority of El Nino weather patterns:
- South is good.
- North is not so good.
That's really it...almost.
There are certainly geographic subtleties among particular ski resorts that may exclude them from the norm, but by-and-large, these two rules...well, rule.
Heading South this Ski Season?
Southern and Western U.S. ski resorts may have an exceptional season, since most of the precipitation and cooler temperatures typically reside around those areas.
It's also possible that those on the immediate outskirts of these regions may also see some extra pow. More specifically, resorts within Arizona, Southern California and New Mexico are more likely to get some extra snow during the 2015/2016 El Nino.
Heading North, Eh?
More specifically, those resorts that are in the areas mentioned above and low in elevation will likely be negatively affected by this year's El Nino.
Research Does a Ski Season Good
Ultimately, you just want to do your research on which resorts will be solid options for you this season. If you have your heart set on a particular Northern ski resort, don't rule it out until you've done some digging. You may find that it's still a great place to spend your season. If your just starting your search, definitely consider sticking to the two rules above to speed up the process and increase your chances of powdery bliss.
Regardless of which route you go, always be sure to check the forecasts, mountain and resort elevation and recorded snowfall during past El Ninos if you're concerned about it. This will ensure your 2015/2016 ski season is one for the record books...in a good way.
Okay, so you know where to go...but do you know what to pack?