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Tahoe’s resorts wait patiently

Despite warm, dry conditions and nothing significant in the forecast through Thursday, Lake Tahoe ski resorts are hanging tough with what they have in employees and snowpack.

Most resorts bank much of their seasonal buck on February and March snowstorms.

“March tends to be our big month,” Heavenly Ski Resort spokeswoman Molly Cuffe said.



Ski resorts such as Heavenly, have not laid off any workers. In fact, the resort, at its peak with 1,600 employees, is still trying to hire for the season.

Sierra-at-Tahoe has also decided to keep the same level of employees, with a tightening of shifts on the weekdays. It operates on a full schedule Saturday and Sunday.




“We’re busy on the weekends,” Sierra spokeswoman Nicole Belt said. “February is always a huge snow month. We’re confident the snow will come.”

In Alpine County, Kirkwood Mountain Resort’s spokeswoman Tania Pilkinton said the ski area also is banking on the traditionally snowy conditions of February and March.

If those months don’t live up to their past, Kirkwood may rely on the natural attrition of a cluster of seasonal workers who plan to leave about that time anyway.

The South Shore resorts have also remained steadfast at keeping their chairlifts and runs open.

As of Thursday, only two of Heavenly’s 23 lifts are closed. Sierra has closed four of its 44 trails. Kirkwood has kept all its chairlifts open, closing only its tubing hill tow.

On the Diamond Peak snow report, enthusiasts are advised to ski with caution. Much of the Incline Village resort faces the sun at peak hours, and it’s unable to make snow. The resort reports 30 to 60 inches of coverage from bottom to top.

Still, resort Manager Doug Youmans waits for the conditions to turn around.

“Anyone who’s worked at ski resorts a while will know there are ups and downs to the season,” he said. “I’ve seen several dry Januarys. We get most of our snow in February.”

Youmans may have a little wait.

In the first week of the second month of the year, the National Weather Service calls for relatively dry conditions through at least Thursday.

Tonight, Lake Tahoe residents may experience traces of snow at lake level. Overnight into Saturday, 2 to 4 inches of snow may fall above 7,000 feet with rain at lake level.

Snow showers are in the forecast through Saturday, the start of a cooling period.

Cooler temperatures should stay with us through Sunday, with mostly sunny skies.

Merry Thomas contributed to this report.

Susan Wood can be reached at (530) 542-8009 or via e-mail at swood@tahoedailytribune.com.


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