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Western ski resorts buried in snow. A sign of a blockbuster season? (Photos)

Webcam from Loveland Ski area on November 5, 2015. (SkiLoveland.com)
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Many of the major ski resorts from California’s Sierra Nevada to the northern and central Rockies were blanketed by 6-30 inches of snow early this week. Several resorts have opened early, including California’s Mammoth Mountain and Colorado’s Loveland ski area.

Does this early snow blitz portend a great ski season for western resorts? Not necessarily, but it’s certainly a promising start.

The long-term outlook for snow in the West is mixed, according to the team of meteorologists at OpenSnow.com which provides detailed snow forecasts for ski areas across the country. The OpenSnow.com outlook calls for elevated chances of above average snow in California and the southern Rockies, but depressed chances of big snows to the north and northwest.

Such a snowfall distribution fits the typical pattern seen in El Nino winters, when heavy precipitation focuses in the southern tier of the U.S. while it’s drier to the north.

[Weather Service winter outlook: Beneficial rains for Southern California, less severe cold in the Northeast]

OpenSnow.com’s Web site allows you to drill down and get resort specific snowfall outlooks, month-by-month, but it cautions preparing these long-term forecasts is a “challenge.”

“On average … we will get the forecast right about 2/3rds of the time,” Joel Gratz, OpenSnow.com’s founder wrote. “This level of accuracy can certainly help skiers and riders gain insight into which ski areas could see above average or below average snowfall this winter.”

To whet your appetite for the ski season, which has already begun in some select areas, check out the photos below…

Mammoth Mountain

Sierra-at-Tahoe

Squaw Valley

Vail

Breckenridge

Steamboat

Jackson Hole

Big Sky

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