Winter storm warning: Snow in the mountains, Rain in the valleys |

Winter storm warning: Snow in the mountains, Rain in the valleys

RENO – The first significant storm of the season brought out the first diehard skiers of fall Tuesday, but their appearance was more optimism than realism.

”There are skiers out,” Alpine Meadows spokeswoman Rachel Woods said. ”Well, they’re having fun anyway,” she added.

Alpine received about 8 inches of snow at the higher elevations, where the skiers were trying their luck, and about 5 inches around the lodge.

”There aren’t any green things any more,” Woods said.

Snow began falling late Monday and was sticking early Tuesday on the higher passes, bringing out chain or snow tire requirements briefly on U.S. 50 and Interstate 80.

”We’re as ready as we can be,” said Mike Peterson, superintendent of Caltrans’ Kingvale maintenance station on the downward slope of the western Sierra west of Donner Summit.

By midafternoon the sun was out as the storm pushed eastward.

The storm system was formed by a large area of low pressure that extended from the Gulf of Alaska to the Pacific Northwest. It is expected to start weakening Wednesday.

”By the weekend, we should go through a clearing and warming trend and be back into the upper 60s,” said Bob Nester, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service.

”We’ve been well above normal for so long, people think 60s are below normal,” he said.

But fellow meteorologist Ray Collins is looking at another trough forming out in the Pacific.

”It does appear that we are going into a different pattern, a winter pattern,” he said.

That can’t come too soon for Heavenly Ski Resort at Tahoe’s south shore.

”The snow guns have been tested and they are already to go as soon as the weather drops to the right temperature,” said spokeswoman Kristen Aggers.

”We are traditionally the first resort in the basin to open and we plan on continuing that tradition.”

Boreal Mountain Resort north of Tahoe plans to give Heavenly a run for its tradition.

With 8-12 inches on the ground from the storm, Boreal fired up the snowmaking equipment in hopes of opening even sooner than its projected Halloween weekend startup.

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