Resorts across California, Nevada, Arizona, and southern Idaho have whooped it up this week after four monster storms stomped in from the Pacific dropping up to 7.5 feet of snow since Sunday. Other resorts, however, are struggling under the El Niño conditions walloping the West Coast.
The governors of Arizona and California have declared states of emergency due to heavy snows, flooding, high winds, and mudslides. The storms wreaked havoc, closing some interstate highways and roads, forcing evacuations, canceling flights, and knocking out power.
Mt. Shasta Ski Park lost power on Wednesday as high winds downed power lines across Siskyou County. The resort remained closed Thursday, and power had not been restored as of Friday morning.
Bear Mountain closed on Friday due to intermittent power outages. Neighboring Snow Summit, however, plans to remain open as it has its own power plant. Snow Summit has canceled night skiing for Friday night due to the weather. All Bear Mountain-only season passes will be valid at Snow Summit while Bear Mountain is closed.
The pair of resorts tallied over 4 feet of snow this week, with more falling on Friday. Highway 38 is closed to the resorts, but alternate routes were open Friday morning with chains required on all vehicles including those with four-wheel drives.
Arizona Snowbowl, which received 57 inches in the base area and 82 inches at the summit this week, closed Friday due to extreme weather conditions. The Flagstaff area had 60 mph winds, creating nasty travel conditions. The road to Snowbowl closed, and the Cococino Sheriff Department issued an avalanche warning for backcountry travelers. "Safety of our guests and employees is our primary concern," spokesman David Smith stated on the area's snow report.
Sunrise Park, blanketed by 3 feet of snow in the past 24 hours, also closed Friday. The resort reports that roads are impassable and power is out.
Resorts closed due to power outages intend to reopen as soon as power is restored. While some resorts struggle with storm havoc, California resorts wallow in powder.
Lake Tahoe resorts have received 5 to 6 feet of snow this week and anticipate outstanding conditions for the weekend. "The storms were perfectly timed to drop snow midweek and bring bluebird skies for the weekend," Daniel Pistoresi, spokesman for Ski Lake Tahoe told OnTheSnow.com. "The later snows this week came down light making every turn overhead powder. People are giddy."
Higher elevation Tahoe resorts struggled this week with high winds causing some lifts to suspend operations. "Winds were a big challenge this week, but they've died down now," Pistoresi said.
El Niño may be dumping snow on California and the Southwest, but the weather pattern has thrown warm, wet conditions into the Pacific Northwest. Rains at lower elevations and minimal snow accumulation caused two resorts to institute closures. Cypress Mountain in British Columbia closed to the public two weeks earlier than its scheduled closure for the Olympics to preserve snow for the freestyle and snowboard courses.
Oregon's Mt. Hood Skibowl, which usually operates seven days a week, closed its lifts Mondays through Fridays for the past two weeks to preserve snow. "We've had unseasonably warm weather with some rain, but little snow," marketing manager Karen Norton told OnTheSnow.com. "We're trying to protect the snow we have for weekend skiers. We had the earliest opening in 14 years this season; we're just in a little lull right now."
Skibowl, which reports a minimal snow depth with a 22-inch base at its deepest point, plans to reopen this weekend. "The forecast is looking promising. We are expecting snow this weekend. This could go uphill from here with continuous snow predicted next week."
Idaho's Silver Mountain closed Friday not due to the weather but rather a mechanical problem with their gondola. Maintenance crews are working to get it running again, but are awaiting a replacement part.
Follow the snow reports on OnTheSnow.com for the latest updates.