While the Sacramento area experienced partly cloudy skies and gusty winds Monday, after a weekend of highs in the 70s, a spring storm delivered several inches of snow to some parts of the Sierra. As of midafternoon, 11 inches of snow had fallen over the past 24 hours at Northstar California Resort north of Lake Tahoe. Mt. Rose Ski Tahoe announced Monday that, thanks to snow conditions, winter operations at the Lake Tahoe area’s highest base elevation resort will be extended to May 8.
Anna Allen survived the most deadly avalanche in U.S. ski history, fighting through frostbite and severe dehydration during the five days she was buried beneath heavy snow and debris at Alpine Meadows.
With Tahoe snow totals piled high, skiers from all over are flocking to the sunny Sierra slopes for high-altitude fun. But if you’re a local hoping to avoid the crowds (and the sunburn), you may want to try hitting the mountains after hours.
Should El Niño not live up to the hype and dump heavy snow on the Sierra, skiers and sledders at one resort could be gliding downhill this winter on snow that comes from an unusual source: purified water from the local sewage-treatment plant.
California’s last ski season was knocked flat by a double punch – weeks of warm weather, coupled with a sheer lack of precipitation. When clouds did drift above the state’s mountain ranges, they tended to dribble rain instead of snow. That resulted in swaths of brown, bare earth instead of sleek white slopes, prompting many early closures by winter resorts.
The atmosphere on the ski slopes around Lake Tahoe was giddy this week as beleaguered resort operators planned their earliest opening in years, a response to November storms and cold temperatures that allowed them to supplement nature by making snow.
Seven Tahoe-area ski resorts have closed down early this season because of the lack of snow. California’s drought is forcing resort operators to find new attractions to lure tourists, from live music to zip lines and mountain biking. “We have to be in the mountain recreation business, not the winter business,” a ski-industry expert said.