If you come to Fernie, can you expect to be wallowing in champagne powder? Well, maybe. Fernie does get a lot of snow and your odds of getting a great powder day are better than at most Canadian ski areas, but you still have to be lucky. It is perfectly possible to spend a week here and ski nothing but ice, crud or your junk of choice. On the other hand if you are really lucky, you could get a foot of snow every night. There does seem to be some inverse correlation between El Nino winters and good powder. When the El Nino is in full swing, temperatures rise enough to push many of the storms into rain or wet snow. It is far from a given though.
Tony Crocker has an interesting historical rating of powder conditions for Fernie and Whistler as well as a ton of other information on his Guide to Snowfall page. The ski hill has also provided some statistics showing the monthly snowfalls since 1984.. Also interesting is the Environment Canada snow pillow data for Morrisey Ridge, which is the ridge on the other side of the Elk Valley from the ski hill.
Even if it is not powder, you rarely have to worry about coverage, at least not on the old side. I retired my seven year old skis a few years ago and although they had seen a lot of Fernie miles they had never needed a drop of PTex.
Starting in 1999, the expansion territory in Currie, Timber and Siberia bowls was opened in the early season for the first time and I, and I imagine many others, discovered that Fernie can indeed have a ski unfriendly phase. Particularly in Timber Bowl, the combination of wind, rocky terrain and perhaps somewhat less snow than the older bowls can result in hazards that long time Fernie skiers are not used to.
Back on the old side though, the coverage is usually good from day one although early in the season the alders can make some off
run areas pretty tough or even impassable.
While December powder is often great, a lot more terrain
opens up later in the season as the snow pack grows (on a really good year there can be nearly 5 meters of settled snow at the top of the mountain).
January and February are the prime powder months, although
the occasional storm can blow in right up until the end of April closing.
Temperatures are usually moderate, although about once a winter we get a week that is -25 to -30C.
For those wanting to come for the winter, I have a little bit of info on my ski bumming page.