What to Expect from La Niña Weather This Winter

2022 La Nina Forecast

Depending on the weather system, La Niña weather can be unpredictable and weaker or stronger year to year. But when it hits – it hits hard. Baltimore, Maryland, received almost 15 inches of snow in one day in early 2000. And the Mt. Baker Ski Area in Washington saw a whopping 834″ during the 2011 La Niña season.

La Niña is fantastic for skier enthusiasts looking at hitting up the ski resorts this winter and into 2022, but since all La Niña storm systems are not created equally, what can you expect for the upcoming ski season?

If you have an interest in learning about what La Niña is and how it’ll affect the resorts this year, then keep reading on!

What Is La Niña?

La Niña can last anywhere from nine months to years and happens every two to seven years. In general, there are two weather systems that cause a significant impact on global weather systems.

El Niño is the other weather system and happens more often than La Niña. El Niño has fewer trade winds, and warm water moves eastward and towards the western part of North America.

Typically, this results in warmer and drier areas in the northern parts of the United States and into Canada. In the southern part of the United States and in the southeast region, there are higher flooding risks.

La Niña is the exact opposite. Trade winds increase, and warmer water moves to Asia while cold temperatures arise near North America.

It can create cooler than average temperatures in the northern United States and Canada and higher risks of flooding along the Northwest part of the country.

Winter Weather Patterns 2022

La Niña conditions can breed cooler temperatures and more snow in the northern states. What can you expect for skiing or snowboarding conditions this upcoming year?

The good news is, parts of the Pacific Northwest and other northern reaches of the United States should receive plenty of rain or snow. Upwards of 60% of the West is in a drought, and La Niña should target more of those severe areas.

In places like Utah, where the snow is world-renowned, and ski resorts dot the entire Wasatch front, predicting La Niña isn’t as easy. Utah sits right in between the desert regions of Arizona and New Mexico and just south of the cold, blustery areas of Wyoming and Montana.

This means they get a little bit of everything. And while Utah has largely been in a drought all year long, experts aren’t entirely convinced they will get the snowfall much-needed from La Niña. It’s still a bit too early to tell, and Utah ski resorts might be best saved once winter is in full force.

In general, snow can be harder to predict with La Niña conditions. However, your best bets of finding plenty of fresh powder in the early months of 2022 are the northern parts of the Rockies, Great Lakes region, or Pacific Northwest.

The Midwest and parts of the South are more likely to sink further into a drought, and there may even be a higher wildfire risk in California in 2022.

La Niña Weather Predictions

Last year was also a La Niña year and produced moderate snowfall in the northern regions. For example, the Wasatch and Uintah mountains received eight to 20 feet of snow while the Grand Tetons got 15 to 30 feet.

During back-to-back La Niña years, the second year tends to have less snowfall than the year prior. Weather experts have looked at the upcoming weather predictions and found that the Rockies, Tetons, and Wasatch could be hit or miss on precipitation this year.

The most probable snowfall regions will be in the Cascades and northern parts of the Rocky Mountains. What does this mean for fellow skiers and snowboarders?

Find Your Mountain

Pack up your gear and head to Idaho, Wyoming, and Mountain for some world-class powder days. The Cascades also traverse Oregon, Washington, and parts of Canada. If you are looking at taking an international trip this year, British Columbia might serve you well if you follow the La Niña forecast.

If Canada piques your interest, a new backcountry ski lodge just opened up by Evo. This new resort averages 22 feet of snowfall per year – and more could be coming through the La Niña weather system.

What other places tend to have good snow years during La Niña?

  1. Mt. Baker Ski Area
  2. Whitewater Ski Resort
  3. Grand Targhee Ski Resort
  4. Schweitzer Mountain
  5. Whistler Blackcomb
  6. Mammoth Mountain

You can load the car or hop on a plane to Jackson Hole, Wyoming, or Whistler, B.C., where you can safely bet on finding deep La Niña snow by mid-winter. They are also good central locations for great skiing and backcountry adventures with plenty to do for anyone you bring along on your next trip.

La Niña weather shows predictions of a good snow year for the northern Rocky and Cascade mountains. There are plenty of world-class ski resorts that can keep you occupied for the 2021 and 2022 ski seasons as cold, wet weather sweeps across the Pacific Northwest region.

About the Author

Mike Hardaker
Mike Hardaker grew up surfing and snowboarding in Orange County and followed his love of surfing to Hawaii before eventually moving to the mountains to concentrate on snowboarding. He went on to found Mountain Weekly News based in Jackson, Wyoming.

11 Comments on "What to Expect from La Niña Weather This Winter"

  1. Great Article! You could republish it for this year maybe with some covid information.
    Did you leave Jackson off the list because its a given with Targhee or because you don’t want to encourage more people to visit?
    I’ve been riding Jackson the past 5 year and absolutely loved it. Great sidecountry!

  2. Edgar Chavarria | December 2, 2017 at 3:19 PM | Reply

    Went to loveland during thanksgiving break and looking for another trip during xmas. Fairly new to riding, only 3 years now along with the family. What location is looking like the place to go end of December?

    • Hey Edgar,

      Thanks for reaching out. From the end of December to early Jan, the farther North you are the better. For guaranteed powder head to Mt. Baker. I would recommend here in Jackson Hole, Grand Targhee, possibly Snowbird. In Colorado it’s going to be tough. Best chance would be in Steamboat. Feel free to reach out anytime. We love following snow, and riding powder.


  3. Cody B. Clark | October 1, 2017 at 7:29 PM | Reply

    Shout out to the upcoming 1000 inch season at Baker! Can’t wait!

  4. how come you recommend bridger bowl and not big sky?

    • Hey Kevlin,

      The last La Nina (2011/2012) had Bridger Bowl picking up 33″ of snow over the resorts average vs Big Sky which picked up 27″ of snow over the resorts average.

      I have yet to ride Big Sky. One day..

    • Look at the snow report for today and that will answer your question

  5. Anthony Calabro | November 12, 2016 at 9:28 AM | Reply

    If you make your way over to schweitzer hit me up we can shred together and I’ll show you where the stashes are!

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