With a stubborn high-pressure system parked over the West Coast, ski resorts in the Lake Tahoe area are relying almost entirely on their snowmaking systems to keep partial operations going.
The last measurable snow fell Dec. 2 and the base was laid by warm storms that went through in November. As a result, it’s limited operations at most resorts. The nights have been cold as they have been in inland valleys so there’s the opportunity to make plenty of snow overnight, but daytime highs have reached the 50s.
Heavenly Valley at South Lake Tahoe has eight of its 28 lifts turning with 19 of 97 trails open and a base of just eight inches at the base and 24 inches at the 10,600-foot summit.
Sierra-at-Tahoe has just four lifts running with 12 inches at the base and 14 of 46 trails open. It does have 3 feet of snow at the top. Grand View Express is open, so skiers can reach the summit and its great views of Lake Tahoe (as pictured).
South of the lake over Carson Pass, conditions are a little bit better at Kirkwood with 18 inches at the base and nine of the 15 lifts running. That allows access to 39 of the 86 trails or almost about 50 percent of the terrain.
Over on the north side, Northstar is about one-third open with nine of 20 lifts running and 30 of 97 trails accessible. Snow conditions are described as packed powder—that speaks to the snowmaking systems.
Squaw Valley-Alpine Meadows has 24 of 42 lifts running that serve 72 of the 110 trails. There’s 18 inches at the base and 24 inches at the summit. More telling, that serves 1,300 of the more than 6,000 aces at the now-combined resort.
By contrast, Sugar Bowl near Donner Summit on I-80 has just three of 13 lifts running that serve 15 of 102 trails. Sugar Bowl has limited snowmaking capability.
Boreal resort at Donner Summit has three of its eight lifts running serving five of its 32 trails. The base is 20 inches.
The weather situation is not expected to change until near Christmas. The KTVU 2 weather team reports that there’s a possibility of rain around Dec. 21. So, resorts with robust snowmaking are running their systems full speed to offer the best conditions possible during the holidays. Others are praying for a change in the weather and snow soon than later.