ROCKIES: Jim Steenburgh - University of Utah Meteorology Department
The guru says: "Winter may be slightly warmer than average. But places like Alta are pretty temperature insensitive. The odds favor near- or below-average snowfall in the southern Rockies, particularly in the extreme south. The Northern and Central Rockies could fare better.
Magic Eight Ball says: Utah 's a safe bet, but Jackson and Targhee could go off.
NEW ENGLAND: Neil Lareau - Mount Washington Observatory
The guru says: "We've had the warmest summer on record, with 35 days over 60 degrees on Mount Washington—last year we only had seven. The Gulf of Maine and Hudson Bay are warm. It could be a late start to the ski season, with heavy wet snow early. Just as warmer water can mean intense hurricanes, it also means bigger storms. We could get tremendous amounts of snow—or rain.
Magic Eight Ball says: Wait till cold air sets up over New England—around February—for the biggest storms with the lightest snow.
SIERRAS: Howard Sheckter - Meteorologist, Eastern Sierra Weather Services
The guru says: "The only thing I can see out there is a warm-water pool in the Pacific closer to the dateline. My best guess: If the systems stick together in the central Pacific and everything lines up just right, we could have a Pineapple Express—tropical moisture that sprays the Sierras and Northwest like a snow canon. But if cold air gets entrenched over Hudson Bay it could create a ridge that'd keep storms away from California.
Magic Eight Ball Says: Don't count on the kind of storms that left 19 feet in Tahoe last year, but at least two whopper dumps may come your way.
PACIFIC NORTHWEST: John Werner - National Weather Service, Spokane
The guru says: "There are no signals saying it's going to be as bad as last year. The jet stream will probably stay farther north, meaning much of the country will average out to be slightly warmer. But storms will also ride the jet stream farther north. Chances are even for above- or below-normal precipitation, so as a gambler, chances of getting more snow this year in the Northwest have just improved.
Magic Eight Ball says: You won't need rock skis for mid-winter runs at Whistler, and February could be deep, but hold off on buying those fat skis.