So which regional mountains have the best prospects for snow this winter? A fair question, but not so easy this year because of an unusually fickle jet stream (that east-to-west band of air flow you see on TV weather maps that helps dictate temperatures).

The most likely scenario, according to Vernon Kousky, a meteorologist with the Climate Prediction Center at the National Centers for Environmental Prediction: slightly warmer-than-normal temperatures and near-normal precipitation in the mid-Atlantic--which bodes ill for ski resorts because most precipitation will be rain. The warmth could extend into southern New England and may be pesky enough to prevent snowmaking.

On the other hand, there's a chance West Virginia and western Pennsylvania may benefit from Great Lakes-born snows known as lake-effect storms (occurring most frequently from November through mid-January, when warm air and cold water create storm clouds).

For purposes of comparison, we've gathered the average annual snowfall, in inches, for the resorts mentioned in the accompanying story. The figures are self-reported and are based on the life of the resorts--but they are useful in helping determine which hills will get more snow than others in an "average" winter.

Average Annual Snowfall

At Selected Eastern Ski Areas

Sugarbush: 300 inches

Killington: 250 inches

Mad River Glen: 200 inches

Sugarloaf/USA: 168 inches

Blue Knob: 160 inches

Snowshoe: 150 inches

Timberline: 150 inches

Seven Springs: 105 inches

Wisp: 90 inches

Elk Mountain: 60 inches

Jack Frost/Big Boulder: 50 inches

White Tail: 36 inches

Bryce Mountain: 30 inches

Ski Liberty: 24 inches

Ski Roundtop: 20 inches