SOUTH LAKE TAHOE, Calif. - Once again, albeit later than usual, Lake Tahoe is under the white blanket.
Shovelers and snowplows were out in force Monday. Ski resorts opened new terrain. Sledders charged fresh hillsides. Even geese in the Upper Truckee River Marsh seemed to be enjoying the winter weather.
"It's his first time playing in the snow," said Chris Butler of his two-year-old son, who'd quickly discovered how to pack the perfect snowball.
The recent storm's snowfall put a dent in what has been a nearly dry winter so far. Though the precipitation has gotten the area off to a start, no more storms are predicted for at least five days.
Snow removal crews finally got a chance to push some snow around. Caltrans had 40 people and 20 pieces of equipment clearing U.S. Highway 50 and Highway 89. More than 130 plows took to Interstate 80 and around 30 Caltrans workers cleared roads and highways at the North Shore.
City snowplows tested their new GPS system, which will allow residents to track snowplows online. A map will be set up on the city's website with icons identifying the location of the snowplows. No date has been set for the release of the system, said city spokeswoman Nancy Kerry.
Ski resorts continue to open new terrain, though few received enough snow to allow access to 100 percent of runs. Sierra-at-Tahoe Ski Resort started up their Grandview Express and West Bowl Express chairlifts. Heavenly Mountain Resort boasted 24 lifts and 64 trails accessible Tuesday. Kirkwood Mountain Resort is pushing to open "The Wall" as well as the mountain's backside within the week.
"It has been a bit of a late start to the winter, but with the recent welcomed changes in the weather pattern, the resort is still optimistic that it will hit its seasonal snowfall total averages," said Jon Copeland, director of skier services at Kirkwood in a statement.
Other recreation firms have been able to kick off their season as well. Zephyr Cove Resort will launch their snowmobile tours Saturday. Kirkwood's cross country center will open an additional 20 kilometers of trails by Wednesday. And the Tahoe Rim Trail Association is starting their weekly snowshoe hikes Saturday.
As of Tuesday, the Sierra Avalanche Center listed the avalanche danger as considerable on northwest, north, east and northeast slopes. Wind slabs and storms slabs are of special concern, according to the center's daily report.
Seven-day forecasts are not showing any likelihood of precipitation within the week. Weather is expected to be partially cloudy. Temperatures could reach into the 50s Wednesday.
Though the season to date snowfall is still below average, the recent storm pushed January totals above average for snow measuring sites around Lake Tahoe, according to the National Weather Service. With equivalent of 3.87 inches of water falling so far, South Lake Tahoe is at 145 percent of average precipitation for the month.
For the season, South Lake Tahoe measurements by the Natural Resource Conservation District's Snotel system indicate the Lake Tahoe Basin is between 47 percent and 65 percent of normal season-to-date precipitation averages.