As of today, 9.21.23, we are only 50 days away from Mammoth Mountain opening day. The official opening date for Mammoth is Friday, November 10th, 2023. There will be a celebration with a banner breakthrough and the annual beer toast. We also know that the winter of 23/24 will be an El Nino year. A lot of people are wondering how that will affect the snowpack. Will mammoth have another record snow year? People are stating to talk about it as the season approaches.
It is unlikely that Mammoth Mountain will have another record snow year this season because, well, we had record snowfall last year and records are hard to beat. However, El Nino has produced several big years in Mammoth, so it is possible there will be lots of powder to go around this winter. El Nino has also produced less than stellar results in the past. So, will El Nino bring a lot of snow to the Sierra?
I should mention that we are not weather experts, but we have been in Mammoth a long time and have been through a few El Nino winters. El Nino typically brings more wet weather to certain parts of the US, but it is also warmer. The good thing about Mammoth is the high elevation; most of the mountain sits at around 10,000 feet. This usually ensures any kind of wet weather turns to snow. The location of Mammoth in the middle of California is right on the boarder of where El Nino hits the state. Storms can slam directly into Mammoth, but they can also slip right by completely missing Mammoth Mountain. El Nino typically brings a lot of storms to Southern California, but if the storms are large enough to spread to Central and Northern California then we are in for a big year. Most El Nino weather maps look like this one, below.
The red arrow on the weather map shows where Mammoth Mountain is located in relation to a typical El Nino winter. Unfortunately, El Nino is not a guarantee for a great snow season. In fact, it can actually produce a lower than normal snow season. However, in our experience, most of the storms tend to be big enough to also hit Central California and we will usually get more snow than average. Here are a few links to stories from people who know a bit more on the subject than us. Here is a great article from Powder.com. Here is another one from Snow Brains. In the end, I think we will have a big winter, but the record winter of 2022/2023 will likely not be achievable this season.