Clear skies in this week’s forcast |

Clear skies in this week’s forcast

Sarah Gonser

Leave the winter coat at home and lose the hat and gloves because spring is in the air.

But don’t pack the winter gear away just yet. The latest warm spell should last through Thursday. Weather forecasters are predicting mild snow flurries at the end of the week but with more warm weather to follow.

The mild temperatures attracted droves of visitors during the holiday weekend, and resorts reported record numbers, thanks to clear skies and warm sunshine.

“It’s kind of like skiing on the beach,” said Rachael Woods, public relations coordinator at Alpine Meadows Ski Resort. “We got a ton of snow early in the season which is kind of carrying us through. We are actually up 130 percent over last year because it didn’t really start snowing until late January in 1998. Conditions are unusually good for this time of year.”

Despite a strong weekend in terms of ticket sales, the warm weather could spell trouble for winter businesses. Forecasts predict slight snow flurries at the end of the week but not enough to make much of a difference.

So where on Earth is the snow?

“Basically, when you have low pressure in the east, high pressure develops in the west,” said weather specialist Rudy Cruz, at the Reno office of the National Weather Service. “The low pressure in the east is what’s causing all the storms and the high pressure here in the west is what brings us warm weather.”

Cruz stated that a jet stream is moving in a northerly direction, which is an unusual event for this time of year, partly due to the widespread effects of La Nina.

“As a result of the jet stream, the high pressure has shifted along the West Coast giving us this nice weather,” Cruz said. “The high pressure should break down toward the end of the week though and we should see some colder weather systems affecting this area around that time.”

It seems the basin is not alone in its love-hate relationship with the unusually warm temperatures. Conditions at resorts in Colorado and Utah are also reportedly mild and snowfalls are not expected anytime soon.

“Our conditions are moderate, I have to say with a sigh,” said Carolyn Bird, communications manager at Crested Butte Ski Resort in Colorado where the ESPN X-Games are taking place in two weeks. “They’re not awful. The terrain we do have open is very nice, but my inclination is to say that we’re relatively flat compared to last year. But I’ve been in the business long enough to know that a weak Christmas doesn’t necessarily mean a bad season.”

Amber Borowski, public relations coordinator at Snowbird Ski and Summer Resorts in Utah, said a recent string of cold nights enabled the resort to increase snowmaking in an attempt to halt the melting process.

“We just want temperatures to stay low at night so we can continue making snow because we’re not expecting snowfalls anytime soon,” Borowski said. “I think we’re always wanting more snow but our 55-inch base isn’t totally awful.”

After the mild snow flurries predicted for Thursday and Friday, Cruz said this weekend should be mild. Forecasts for next week call for more sun and blue skies.

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