Diamond Peak has stockpiled snow in time for opening day | TahoeDailyTribune.com

Diamond Peak has stockpiled snow in time for opening day

Christina Nelson
Brian D. Schultz / Tribune News Service Diamond Peak employees (from top) Danny Zoeller, Andrew Diment, Ken Dale and Ryan Wink make last-minute safety inspections on the Lakeview lift Tuesday afternoon to insure the quality of the mechanical components for Diamond Peak's opening day Thursday.

INCLINE VILLAGE – Although Diamond Peak still has one more day until it opens its runs to snow lovers, the resort has already used more than 18 million gallons of water in its snowmaking operations.

“We had six or eight days where we could make snow 24 hours a day, which hardly ever happens,” said Marketing Coordinator Missy Hinton. “We usually use 24 million gallons for the season.”

A combination of humidity and below-freezing temperatures two weeks ago allowed the resort to create a stockpile of snow that is still being groomed for its opening Thursday. The resort has used approximately 18.5 million gallons of water for snowmaking this season.

Although 18.5 million gallons may seem like a lot of water, Incline Village General Improvement District Assistant General Manager Dan St. John said it’s actually only 1 to 2 percent of total district water use each year.

The district uses approximately 1.2 billion gallons of water a year, 51 percent of which is used by single-family homes.

“From a water supply standpoint, every gallon we pump out of the lake we have to report for our water rights,” St. John said. “But only 20 percent of the water we use for snowmaking gets counted against our water rights.”

That’s because approximately 80 percent of the water used for snowmaking ends up back in the lake at the end of the ski season, he said. The other 20 percent evaporates.

“As snow, it’s not evaporating at anywhere near the rate (that water evaporates from the lake),” said Ed Youmans, resort manager at Diamond Peak. “In reality, we’re actually conserving water for the basin.”

Now, even with temperatures hovering around 50 degrees, Youmans said the snow is sticking around.

“The snow has held up fine,” he said. “The bottom of the mountain took a hit because we got a little bit of rain.”

Snow made by resorts is five times as dense as natural snow because it only falls 20 to 30 feet, as opposed to tens of thousands of feet, Youmans said.

The resort usually finishes its snowmaking operations in January or February, but because so much snow has already been made, Youmans said the resort will probably end its snowmaking operations earlier than usual.

Diamond Peak opens tomorrow with four lifts. For information or to purchase passes and gift certificates, visit the resort’s new and improved Web site at http://www.diamondpeak.com.

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