Wednesday, January 28, 2015
YOLO COUNTY NEWS
99 CENTS

Lake Tahoe resorts patiently await return of snow

By
From page B3 | December 13, 2011 |

By Ellen Huet

Skiers and snowboarders who reveled in a record-breaking snow season last year are stuck this year waiting for the snow to fall in the Lake Tahoe basin, and it’s in no hurry to arrive.

After last winter’s snowfall doubled yearly averages, ski resort bookings boomed this year with residual excitement. But so far, little, if any, snow has stuck on Tahoe-area mountains, leaving resorts to wait on Mother Nature’s graces or rely almost completely on man-made alternatives.

The region has seen plenty of cold fronts this season, but they’ve all been dry, said National Weather Service forecaster Alex Hoon.

Because the jet stream hasn’t picked up much moisture over the Pacific Ocean or Gulf of Alaska, region-wide snow levels are at about 17 percent of the average for this time in December.

“It’s been a pretty weak winter so far,” Hoon said. “We’ve had a couple storms, but they haven’t been big — not by Sierra standards.”

Without natural snowfall, resorts cater to early season skiers with manufactured snow. The alternative requires time and money, which means the bigger resorts open only a handful of runs and smaller resorts might open later in the season, said Andy Chapman, chief marketing officer for the North Lake Tahoe Chamber of Commerce.

“Last year was drastically different,” he said. “We had lots of early snow, and almost everyone was open by Thanksgiving.”

Five resorts had runs open last Friday, and a few more are scheduled to open for the season this weekend.

Homewood, a smaller resort along the west shore of the lake, isn’t scheduled to open until Saturday. Sierra-at-Tahoe, however, relies only on natural snow and must simply wait.

Recent months of sustained cold weather helped resorts maintain slopes of manufactured snow, with some snowmaking beginning around Halloween.

“Certainly there is a cost of putting man-made snow on the ground,” Chapman said. “But I think given the alternative of man-made snow versus not having terrain open — with people renting skis, buying hamburgers — means revenue offsets. Obviously the resorts have done this for years and years, understand risk-benefit ratio, and have decided it’s well worth it.”

‘Boomerang effect’

Ski resorts are optimistic that snowstorms will hit soon, and crowds that got a taste of more than 800 inches of snow last winter are hoping for a repeat performance, Chapman said.

“You certainly do get a boomerang effect with great snow last year,” he said. “People have anticipation.”

The weather, however, might have different plans.

“The next couple weeks look pretty dry,” Hoon said. Some snow might fall late this week or around Christmas, he said, but the telltale signs of a big storm – when the jet stream shifts down into Northern California and high pressure over the eastern Pacific disperses – aren’t here yet, Hoon said.

For some regular skiers, the well-groomed manufactured snow is an enjoyable way to start the season.

As opposed to powdery, natural snow, manufactured slopes are easier on the knees for Pam Perry, 59, who leaves her Fremont home regularly with her husband, Gordon, also 59, to ski in Tahoe. They have already spent four ski days at Heavenly Ski Resort this season.

“The man-made snow is a bit drier and wonderful to ski on,” said Pam Perry, who, along with her husband, works in property management. The only negative, Gordon Perry said, is that only a few runs are open.

Low snow levels also are a deal breaker for skiers who prefer backcountry skiing.

Although he skied 38 days last season, J.J. O’Brien of San Francisco hasn’t been to Tahoe yet this year. He plans to wait until snowfall is around 5 to 10 feet, which he hopes could happen quickly.

“Tahoe could turn around in a week, dump 20 feet of snow, and be amazing,” said O’Brien, who works as a product manager at a startup company.

Comments

comments

San Francisco Chronicle

  • Recent Posts

  • Enter your email address to subscribe to this newspaper and receive notifications of new articles by email.

  • .

    News

     
    Shrem Art Museum is a work of art itself

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A1 | Gallery

     
    Police ID suspect in South Davis hit-and-run crash

    By Lauren Keene | From Page: A1

     
    Thieves swipe Gold Rush-era nuggets

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A2

     
    Blizzard-stricken East digs out amid second-guessing

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A2 | Gallery

    UC Davis doctors strike

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

     
    CASA seeks volunteers to advocate for kids

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

    Community invited to Fenocchio memorial

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A3

     
    Teens Take Charge program accepting applications

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

    SHE to lead Center for Spiritual Living in sound healing

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A3

     
    Take a hike with Tuleyome on Feb. 7

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4 | Gallery

     
    The Soup’s On for NAMI-Yolo

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

    Sip wines at St. James’ annual tasting

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A4

     
    Kiwanis Crab, Pasta Feed benefits local charities

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

    Registration open for PSA Day at Davis Media Access

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

     
    Brick sales will benefit Hattie Weber Museum

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4 | Gallery

    Capay Valley Almond Festival will tempt your taste buds

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A5

     
    State fails to track billions in mental health funds

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A7

    Rebekahs’ crab feed benefits local families

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A7

     
    Covered California enrollment events planned

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A7

    Learn pattern darning tips at guild meeting

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A7

     
    Suds for a bug: Contest is over

    By Kathy Keatley Garvey | From Page: A7

    CSU chancellor calls for increasing graduation rates

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A7

     
    .

    Forum

    Family feels cut off here

    By Creators Syndicate | From Page: B5

     
    It’s the final freedom

    By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A6

     
    Tom Meyer cartoon

    By Debbie Davis | From Page: A6

    Move past the stereotypes

    By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A6

     
    A stunning contradiction here

    By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A6

    Let’s speak with accuracy

    By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A6

     
    Think again on euthanasia

    By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A6

    .

    Sports

    Devil snowboarders place second in short and slushy GS

    By Margo Roeckl | From Page: B1 | Gallery

     
    Williams-less Gauchos will test Aggie men

    By Bruce Gallaudet | From Page: B1

     
    Davis club ruggers open with nationally celebrated Jesuit on Friday

    By Bruce Gallaudet | From Page: B1 | Gallery

    Lady Blue Devils take care of business

    By Thomas Oide | From Page: B1 | Gallery

     
    DHS ski team takes second on a déjà vu day

    By Tanya Perez | From Page: B8 | Gallery

    .

    Features

    Name droppers: Arboretum director wins leadership award

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

     
    Lemon tree, very pretty: Our most local fruit?

    By Dan Kennedy | From Page: A10 | Gallery

    .

    Arts

    Granger Smith to play at The Davis Graduate

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A9 | Gallery

     
    Young musicians to perform Winter Concerto Concert

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A9 | Gallery

    Art science speaker series event set for Feb. 5

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A9

     
    Red Meat, Deke Dickerson bring rockabilly honky-tonk twang to The Palms

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A9 | Gallery

    .

    Business

    .

    Obituaries

    Death notice: Betty J. Cogburn

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A4

     
    Mary Beth Warzecka

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A4

    .

    Comics

    Comics: Wednesday, January 28, 2015

    By Creator | From Page: B6