Two days ago, I drove home across the desert from Flagstaff, Arizona. Incidentally, they have snow in Flagstaff—lots of it. I was able to ski at the Snowbowl, my hometown resort. Anytime the Snowbowl is open in December, conditions are good.

Given how little snow there is across California, I was a little mystified as to where the storms came from, but that's probably just more evidence of pattern change.

Locally, as I sped past Barstow and Victorville, I good a good look at the north aspects of the San Bernardino and San Gabriel mountains. How are things looking in the local mountains?

Not too shabby on upper north-facing slopes. I'd say conditions are definitely skiable—if you can get to the snow. As for in-bounds skiing, such as at Mount Baldy Ski Area, things are looking very bare.

All that may be about to change. Forecasts are calling for a major winter storm to push in over the Sierra this weekend, with a weak system arriving tonight as a prelude.

Another bit of good news: Sue Burak over at ESAC notes that recent warm temps in the Sierra have helped solidify a thin and unstable snowpack, raising the possibility—maybe!—that we'll see less avy danger this year. A return to solid Sierra snow in the backcountry would be a welcome change.

— January 2, 2008

Andy Lewicky is the author and creator of SierraDescents