Boreal Mountain Resort is first ski area in the nation to open |

Boreal Mountain Resort is first ski area in the nation to open

It’s time to break out the rock skis, but maybe just for today.

Edging out traditional early birds Killington, Vt., and Keystone, Colo., Tahoe made the U.S. map with the distinction of having the first ski area in the nation to open this season.

Boreal Mountain Resort beat its previous record of Oct. 17 set in the 1980s and won the annual race Thursday afternoon with one lift operating and eight to 12 inches of snow on the ground from an unexpected Sierra storm that blew through the region earlier this week.

But brave and inpatient skiers are advised to check the Donner Summit ski area’s status before heading up U.S. Highway 80. It could close as soon as Saturday, spokeswoman Carrie Roberts admitted.

Full-day ticket prices run $20 for adults and $10 for children under 12 years old. The hours are 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Ironically, Boreal relied on natural snow to open without having to make it because “the conditions (for artificial snow) weren’t right,” Roberts said.

But Boreal workers were tickled to take advantage of Mother Nature’s generosity, which rewarded the resort’s elevation, she said. Its base is situated at 7,200 feet.

The resort will re-evaluate whether to stay open on a day-to-day basis this weekend and thereafter, given the unpredictable nature of the weather, Roberts added.

National Weather Service officials said they believe the weather this winter may bring some surprises across the nation. The recent string of warm winters characterized by the El Nino and La Nina phenomenon is probably over, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration reported Thursday.

“We’ve probably forgotten over the last three years what a normal winter is like,” NOAA administrator James Baker said.

Jack Kelly, Baker’s weather service director, cautioned Americans to “be careful this winter and prepare for a little bit of everything.” Kelly predicts “considerable swings in temperature and precipitation.”

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