Tahoe resort conditions could yield big New Year’s weekend
SOUTH LAKE TAHOE — With additional light snowfall earlier this week and cold temperatures, area resorts are expecting a second consecutive banner holiday weekend to start off the new year.
“It’s the best (holiday) skiing and riding I think I’ve seen in 20 years here at Tahoe,” Kirkwood and Heavenly Mountain resort spokesman Kevin Cooper said. “It’s been snowing on and off all week.”
Sierra-at-Tahoe spokeswoman Thea Hardy said the strong start to the season has yielded a welcome boost in ticket sales.
“We’re in a better place,” Hardy said, comparing to last winter. “We’ve definitely seen a rise in season pass sales. We’re well ahead of last year.”
With storms in recent weeks, all three South Shore area resorts have been able to open close to 100 percent of their terrain.
“We’re going to continue to open terrain until we’re at 100 percent,” Hardy said, adding that Sierra was able to open their backcountry gates over the Christmas weekend.
The holiday weekend outlook should leave skiers with continued blue skies and cold temperatures through the weekend. The National Weather Service is calling for mostly sunny skies and highs around 30 degrees at lake level through Saturday.
OpenSnow.com Tahoe based forecaster Bryan Allegretto said that new storm systems could deliver additional snowfall starting early next week.
BY THE NUMBERS
SIERRA-AT-TAHOE: The resort is currently running 11 of their 14 lifts with access to 46 trails. Resort officials reported an 84-inch base near summit and a season-to-date snow total of 179 inches. Last year’s winter total at Sierra was 123 inches, according to Hardy. The mountain also has its three terrain parks open.
KIRKWOOD MOUNTAIN: As of Christmas week, Kirkwood was 100 percent open for the season with 12 lifts serving 2,300 acres of terrain.
“It looks great this morning coming into Kirkwood,” Cooper said. “The off piste has been off the hook.”
HEAVENLY MOUNTAIN: Heavenly currently has 4,700 of its 4,800 acres open.
“It’s 98 percent open,” Cooper said. “It never reached 98 percent last winter.”
According to Cooper, the resort also received an unexpected 8 inches of new snow this week. The mountain is running all 28 of their lifts and has reported a near 70-inch base at summit.
The Sierra Avalanche Center is reporting backcountry avalanche threat as “low,” level 1 on their five tiered scale. Forecasters are still cautioning backcountry travelers to practice normal caution and safe travel techniques. Wind may continue to create some windslab instability in relatively fresh snow. Backcountry users should avoid areas of unstable snow and travel one at a time through avalanche terrain. Potential avalanche paths and terrain traps should be crossed with care.
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