Ski areas enjoy last hurrah
For frugal, powder-hound skiers and boarders who ride the snow in and out of bounds, this is about as good as it gets.
For hydrologists, the snowfall is a little too late.
The latest dumping from Mother Nature over the last four days has handed Lake Tahoe ski areas another timely boost going into the Easter break and nudged the snowpack a few percentage points to almost half of normal.
“The latitude and altitude give us storms in April, May and sometimes June,” National Weather Service Hydrologist Gary Barbado said. The Reno weatherman said that even though this latest storm produced a significant amount of snowfall, its overall impact on the snowpack was shallow. It hovers at around 47 percent.
However, the 1- to 3-foot snowfall at many resorts was reminiscent of the winter storm that hit the basin before the Presidents Day holiday.
This time, the discounts abound at most of the ski areas as much as the fresh stuff that graced the slopes from Friday to Monday.
Dedicated skiers and boarders at Sierra-at-Tahoe and Kirkwood Mountain Resort, who were unwilling to give up the season yet, braved Saturday’s flurries and received the added benefit of no crowds or lift lines with their powder dreams.
On the Sierra slopes, yelps of glee could be heard all over the mountain as the park riders found themselves making snow waves in knee- to waist-deep powder over the weekend. At lake level, the snowfall amounted to half a foot, according to the weather bureau.
“I’m not surprised by the weather in the Sierra (Nevada),” Sierra-at-Tahoe spokeswoman Megan Moore said Monday morning.
Before the snowfall, management at many of the ski areas were wondering if they could stay open through most of the month. On April 1, Diamond Peak and Tahoe Donner on the North Shore shut down.
The cold temperatures may help with the open areas’ ski conditions. The thermometer outside Moore’s office window read 14 degrees at 6 a.m. Monday.
For Sierra’s projected end of season on April 23, the ski area 12 miles west of Meyers will sell tickets for $5. Proceeds for the community day are earmarked to benefit local organizations.
To benefit a national cause, Sierra-at-Tahoe stands ready to host its sixth annual Boarding for Breast Cancer music and snowboarding event Saturday.
And for those looking for a current deal there, the ski resort is selling any-day passes for the remainder of the season for $129. Full-day tickets go for $48. Half-day tickets are $35.
Kirkwood and Heavenly are offering $20 lift tickets to those showing another resort’s season pass at the counter. It applies any day at the Alpine County ski area and Tuesday through Thursday at the South Shore resort.
Motorists traveling around the basin have also found most roads open, but chains were required Monday on Highway 88, according to the California Department of Transportation. Monitor Pass on Highway 89 is closed after a brief opening weeks ago, due to avalanche controls.
No control blasts were performed by Caltrans Monday.
Backcountry travelers were also rewarded Monday, as the U.S. Forest Service canceled its high avalanche hazard warning between Sonora and Yuba passes.
Bulletins warn those traveling in the wilderness to exercise extreme caution, especially on steep, wind-loaded slopes. And as it warms up, the possibility of wet, point-release snow slides are apparent.
Warm temperatures are removed from the current forecast.
Today’s highs are predicted in the low 40s, with Wednesday cooling to the mid to upper 30s. Both nights should produce lows in the teens or 20s.
The forecast calls for the snow showers to end by Wednesday evening.
Temperatures should nudge upward to the highs in the upper 40s and lower 50s Thursday through Sunday, with drier conditions.
The California Highway Patrol would like to remind motorists to slow down during these sporadic spring conditions, as the Truckee station responded to at least 20 fender benders last weekend.
Interstate 80 closed in both directions Sunday, after two trucks collided traveling east near Blue Canyon, The Associated Press reported. The crash closed the eastbound lanes for five hours, backing up traffic with skiers leaving the basin.
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