TAHOE/TRUCKEE — The winter storm system that hit the area over the past five days dropped massive amounts of snow in both the upper and lower elevations, bringing smiles to the faces of winter outdoor sports aficionados who were afforded an early opportunity to dust of their equipment and hit the slopes and pathways throughout the region.
Unofficial snowfall totals as of Tuesday afternoon were close to setting records for the month of November, according to Alpine Meadows and Squaw Valley USA. For example, by 2 p.m. Tuesday, Alpine had reported 99 inches of snowfall at upper mountain — that’s 8.25 feet — with it still snowing and blowing.
Rachael Woods, public relations director for Alpine Meadows, said this has been an impressive November for the resort in terms of snow accumulation.
“We have been keeping track of snow accumulation by month since 1970,” she said. “In going over the numbers, there has only been two Novembers that have exceeded what we already have, and the storm is not over.
“It’s astounding, but we are very excited.”
At Squaw Valley, the resort was reporting it “could be the biggest November in years,” according to its website, which reported 88 inches of snow as of Tuesday afternoon at upper mountain.
After the weekend, Boreal Mountain Resort reported approximately six feet of snow accumulation at the upper elevations of the resort. By Tuesday afternoon, as the storm’s second wave wound down, that number ballooned to more than seven feet.
Regardless if records are set, one thing is for sure — it equates to lots of snow for the upcoming holiday weekend.
“This was the perfect storm,” said Andy Chapman, tourism director of the North Lake Tahoe Resort Association. “It came in fast, dropped a ton of snow, setting us up with superior snow conditions and skiing for the holiday weekend. Skiing and boarding at Thanksgiving is what Lake Tahoe is all about.”
Kayla Anderson, spokeswoman for Mt. Rose Ski Tahoe, said the resort was excited to be able to open and provide skiers with fresh powder from the start of the season.
“I can’t remember it snowing this much before Thanksgiving,” she said.
However, the nature of the snow — dry, light and fluffy — while ideal for powder connoisseurs, means there likely is not enough of a compacted base layer for resorts.
Mt. Rose has opened the runs where it had already been making snow, Anderson said, thus providing a solid fundamental layer upon which the newly dumped powder can settle.
“We expect sunny days on Wednesday and Thursday, meaning the snow can settle and compact and hopefully we’ll be able to open more runs,” she said.
Northstar-at-Tahoe Ski Resort is equally optimistic. Jessica Van Pernis, the resort’s communication manager, said the resort hopes to have the entire mountain, from Mt. Jupiter’s summit to the base, open by Wednesday.
“The snow has offered an incredible start to the season,” Van Pernis said Tuesday. “We are continuing to open more terrain and plan to be skiing and riding top-to-bottom — 2,280 vertical feet — by Wednesday.”