February 18, 2011 | Back to: News

Snowstorms slam the Sierra

LAKE TAHOE — Tahoe ski resorts are celebrating the arrival of a winter storm that dumped large amounts of snow throughout the basin.

“We have been waiting for this for over a month,” said Kayla Anderson, spokeswoman for Mt. Rose during a Thursday morning interview. “We've added about 29 to 35 inches and it's still coming down hard. I'm looking at the chairlift right now and it's awesome to see people out there excited about the snow.”

Anderson said the new snow will allow snowboarders and skiers the opportunity to get off the groomers and make turns in the trees.

Ed Youmans, general manager of Diamond Peak Ski Resort, said the timing of the storm could not be more perfect.

“Last year, we had a big storm right before Presidents Day weekend and skier visits over that weekend were the best ever,” he said. “This year, we may do even better.”

Youmans said when a storm hits Tahoe, tourists in the Bay Area and other parts of Northern California tend to take notice and make the trip to the basin.

Northstar-at-Tahoe is reporting excellent powder conditions that resorts said is setting them up perfectly for holiday crowds and a strong spring turnout.

Jessica Van Pernis, a spokeswoman for Northstar, said the recent storm has built on a solid snow base the resort received in the fall.

“It's amazing; it's so deep out there,” Van Pernis said. “Now we're back to winter conditions”

According to their weather sources, Van Pernis said they are expecting a gradual snow build-up throughout the next two to three days nearing roughly a foot of new snow a day.

“It's just fantastic for the upcoming holiday,” she said.

Mike Brown, chief of the North Lake Tahoe Fire Protection District, said there have been assorted calls for assistance from vehicle operators getting stuck in snow banks or spinning off the road, but there were no major accidents as of Thursday morning.

“It's just the typical weather-related occurrences,” he said.

Dave Zaski, of the North Tahoe Fire Protection District, said conditions in Tahoe City and Kings Beach have not created any serious accidents.

“It's been pretty uneventful,” he said.

However, Interstate 80, has been the scene of numerous traffic incidents due to treacherous conditions, as the California Highway Patrol reports higher than usual accidents and vehicle slide-outs.

Tony Prisco, public information officer for the California Highway Patrol, said accident reports are still in the process of being compiled, yet early estimates indicate about 12 documented accidents and 50-plus responses to stranded vehicles in snow banks.

Yesterday there were only two DUI arrests, he said.

“Yesterday the roads were slick and there was a tremendous amount of snow on the ground, and it was extremely difficult for the snowplows to keep up,” Prisco said.

He attributed crashes to the new snow creating a slick layer atop black ice; however, he said incidents had decreased after vehicles had packed additional snow accumulation.

Prisco said accidents were decreasing Thursday.

“The snow has more traction to it than it did yesterday,” he said.

Chuck Allen, spokesman for the Nevada Highway Patrol, said dispatch received 19 calls relating to traffic accidents and 17 slide-outs during a six-hour period on Wednesday.

The Nevada Department of Public Safety Communications Center fielded 298 calls during the height of the storm, Allen said.

Driving too fast for conditions was the lead contributing factor, Allen said.

“Motorists can greatly minimize the chance of an unplanned event by adjusting their driving habits and allowing more time to accomplish their commute,” he said.

Matthew Renda and Jason Shueh
North Lake Tahoe Bonanza

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Tahoe Daily Tribune Updated Feb 18, 2011 01:29PM Published Feb 18, 2011 01:18PM Copyright 2011 Tahoe Daily Tribune. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.