With snow sports showing in prime time thanks to the Olympics, for those who want to do instead of watch, they will welcome some fresh snow in the Sierra Nevada—the first this month.
The weather pattern has shifted and the high-pressure system that dominated California has moved so storms from the Pacific Northwest are flowing down the spine of the Sierra. With President’s Day weekend looming, the weather shift could not be timed better for ski resorts that have suffered through too much dry weather this season.
Snowmaking has helped for major resorts, although the unseasonably warm weather earlier this month resulted in 50-degree days at the Lake Tahoe resorts.
The current Weather.com forecast calls for no snow until Sunday when there’s a possibility of showers in the afternoon.
Sierra at Tahoe, located at Phillips Station where the monthly snow report is taken by the state Dept. of Water Resources, still has its best intermediate slopes in West Bowl closed because of lack of snow. There has been 84 inches of snow at the summit and 41 inches at the base with six of 14 lifts operating and about half of the trails open.
For the Heavenly Resort that dominates the mountains in South Lake Tahoe, the conditions are better because of the snowmaking. There resort received 4 inches of new snow in the last 72 hours and was operating 22 of 27 lifts with 66 of 94 trails open and 1,158 acres of terrain open to sliders and skiers. The bottom of the California side with the famed double-diamond gunbarrel is still closed.
South of the Lake over Carson Pass, Kirkwood’s trails are nearly all open (81 of 86) with 13 of 15 lifts running. Kirkwood picked up just a couple of inches of fresh snow and has about 2 feet of snow at the base.
Over in Truckee, Northstar has a base of just 18 inches with 55 of 97 trails open and 13 of 20 lifts. It picked up 2 inches of snow on Feb. 12, the first snow that had fallen in the month.
Nearby Squaw Valley will have 114 of 270 trails accessible with a base ranging from 20 inches to 54 inches. 32 of 42 lifts will be turning.
On Donner Summit, Sugar Bowl has a snow base ranging from 32 inches to 56 inches at the top and will operate eight of 13 lifts. Only 65 of 102 trails are open after the resort picked up 2 inches of snow this week.
By Tim Hunt