Weather & Snow

The old mountain adage, “if you don’t like the weather, wait five minutes” is certainly applicable at Whistler Blackcomb, but another apt saying would be, “if you don’t like the weather in the valley, head up the mountain.”

Did You Know?

For every 150 meters of vertical you climb, the temperature typically drops one degree Celsius. Climbing over 1,600 meters, Whistler and Blackcomb Mountains are a snow-lovers paradise, even if it’s raining in Vancouver or Whistler Village.

With a vertical of 1,609 meters or 5,280 feet, Whistler and Blackcomb Mountains pass through three climate zones. Starting at the base, the first climate zone is West Coast Hemlock which extends to the Mountain Hemlock zone. The Mountain Hemlock zone reaches the tree line giving way to the Alpine Tundra.

Located in the Coast Mountain Range, which is actually a rainforest, Whistler Blackcomb is blessed with lots of precipitation. The combination of high levels of precipitation and moderate temperatures creates the west coast powder that Whistler Blackcomb is famous for. This unique snow consistency sticks to expert terrain, enabling Whistler Blackcomb to offer some of the best expert terrain in North America.

Whistler Blackcomb’s weather and snow communication team reports on the conditions three times daily.
The Whistler Blackcomb Snowphone can be reached by calling 604-932-4211.

Check out the lastest Whistler Blackcomb Snow report »

HORSTMAN GLACIER SNOWMAKING PILOT PROJECT

Whistler Blackcomb’s snowmaking pilot project is entering its second season this winter to determine if a full-scale snowmaking system is an option to prevent further recession of the Horstman Glacier. Last season, the focus of the project was snow production with low energy ‘air water’ snow guns along the ridge of the Horstman Glacier. This season the focus will shift to snow production using high volume ‘fan’ snow guns on towers mounted directly on the glacier ice. The hope is this new system will be better suited to combating the high alpine winds and will result in greater snow coverage.

Average Snowfall

Whistler Blackcomb receives an average of 1170 cm/461 in /38.4 feet of snow per year, as measured at the Pig Alley Weather Station on Whistler Mountain (elevation 1,660 metres/ 5,445 feet).

The greatest snow base record for Whistler Mountain is 504 cm (197 inches, 16.4 feet) set in 1973/74.

The snowiest month on record was November 2009 where 560cm fell that month alone.

Words for Snow

In the early 1900s, skiers created their own terminology to describe types of snow, including the terms "fluffy snow," "powder snow," and "sticky snow." Later, the terminology expanded to include descriptive terms such as "champagne powder," "corduroy," and "mashed potatoes." Ask a local and they could likely come up with at least a dozen.

SnowMaking

have 315 snow guns in our snowmaking fleet made up of automated guns, manual fan guns and air/water guns.

Our water reservoirs have a capacity of 55 million gallons, a breakdown of 20.5 million gallons on Blackcomb and 34.5 million on Whistler.

Whistler and Blackcomb Mountains use a combination of fan guns and air/water guns. Snow guns range from fully automatic (start, stop and adjustment automatically) to manual guns that require hourly checks by staff.

Snowmaking begins at -2 Celsius. As the temperature gets colder we are able to put more water through each gun making more snow in less time. -15 Celsius provides maximum production out of each gun and we continue to make snow well into the -20C.

Humidity affects what we call a "Wet Bulb Temperature" the lower the humidity the colder the temperature will feel and act. Zero Celsius at 100 per cent humidity will still result in a snowmaking temperature of zero Celsius. However zero Celsius at 10 per cent humidity would put us at a level of snowmaking that acts as though it is -5 Celsius.

In 24 hours, our snowmaking team can fill an NHL hockey rink to the top of the glass with snow.
10,000 gallons of water per minute can be converted into snow on Whistler Mountain and 5,000 gallons of water per minute on Blackcomb Mountain.

10,000 gallons of water per minute can be converted into snow on Whistler Mountain and 5,000 gallons of water per minute on Blackcomb Mountain. On average each year our snowmaking team turns 130 to 180 million+ gallons of water into 650 to 900 acres a foot deep of snow.

  • Envision a football field (American size - Which is a snowmaking industry standard) covered in snow that is over 650 feet high!
  • Snowmaking starts to make snow at the end of September and continues to make snow well into the spring.
  • This is enough snow to fill a third of BC Place (410mg)
  • We could also fill GM Place (51mg) three times over with snow each season
  • 1 gun could fill an NHL rink to the top of the high glass in 24hrs @ -20°c

GROOMING

Grooming an average of 1,300 acres every night during the winter season with a fleet of 25 grooming snowcats, Whistler Blackcomb is an industry leader when it comes to its grooming. To maintain this standard of excellence, Whistler Blackcomb regularly invests in new equipment.

Last season, Whistler Blackcomb was the first resort in Canada to test the PistenBully 600 E+, the world’s first diesel-electric snowcat. The new technology boasts significantly lower ecological and economic impacts in addition to enhanced performance capabilities. The new technology uses a diesel engine to drive two electric generators which in turn power electric motors that turn the tracks and the snow tiller that grooms the snow for skiers and riders to enjoy.

Grooming Facts:

  • There are 192 groom-able runs at Whistler Blackcomb
  • Total groom-able acres: 1,818.9
  • On average Whistler Blackcomb grooms 1,300 acres every night during the winter months
  • The maximum amount of terrain Whistler Blackcomb can groom in a night is 1,600 acres