Following a late start to the 2011-12 ski season, early snowfall at the start of this winter has Lake Tahoe area ski resorts ready to open well ahead of the Thanksgiving holiday.
As of late Friday afternoon, Heavenly Mountain Resort was reporting 14 inches of snow had fallen from this week's storms, while Sierra-at-Tahoe Ski Resort said 15 inches fell and Kirkwood Mountain Resort reported 18 inches was on the ground.
Heavenly plans to be the first South Shore resort to open when chairlifts start turning Nov. 16. The resort expects to open California Trail with some park features on one side, according to a post by snow reporter Megan Hammitt. The resort may also open Orion's Run depending on conditions.
Mammoth Mountain, in the Eastern Sierra, opened Friday. Although Boreal Mountain Resort, near Lake Tahoe's North Shore, opened briefly last month, Mammoth was the only ski resort open in California when skiers and snowboarders took to the hill this week.
"Snow brings them out of the woodwork," Mammoth spokeswoman Joani Lynch said. "It's very nice to have an addition of natural snow for our opening this year, and it looks like it's setting up for a real nice Thanksgiving."
Boreal hopes to open seven days a week starting at 3:30 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 10, according to a Friday statement from the resort.
"The season is starting off with a bang up here at Boreal," said resort spokesman Jon Slaughter in the statement. "We were able to open in October which is always our goal, and with this storm we hope to be up and running for the season."
And more snow may be on the way.
The National Weather Service in Reno is expecting a high of 30 degrees in South Lake Tahoe Saturday, with another inch or so of snow before 10 a.m. Snow showers, and warming temperatures, are predicted Tuesday and Wednesday of next week.
"Well below normal temperatures will remain over the region through Sunday," according to a hazardous weather outlook for the region. "These temperatures will be the coldest of the season thus far before a gradual warming trend returns early next week."
- The Associated Press contributed to this story.