A storm rolled across the Sierra Mountains just in time to turn opening day at several Tahoe resorts into a powder playground. The storm since Saturday has amassed more than 6 feet of snow in some places and caused ski resorts to bump up openings to this week.
Cold, snowy, windy conditions descended on resorts across the Sierras this weekend. Early Monday morning, Nov. 22, temperatures at Mammoth Mountain plunged to 14 degrees at Main Lodge with 21 mph winds and conditions on the road requiring chains to reach the lodge. Summit temperatures ranged much lower, down to 6 degrees with 53 mph winds. Summit winds precluded opening the upper Panorama Gondola Monday. The new snow allowed the resort to plan for opening Canyon and Eagle Lodges Nov. 24.
"We were looking at historical snowfall totals yesterday, and this is the best start to the season since 2004 when we had a late October snowstorm drop 80 inches," spokesperson Joani Lynch told OnTheSnow. "We should be pretty close to 100 percent open by Thanksgiving."
Boreal Mountain, which has been open the longest, found its park features buried by snow. "Tons of snow is an understatement. We went from zero to 60," said spokesperson Jon Slaughter. "The snow is so dry, not the typical Sierra snow." The resort plans to take down its rope lines today to allow skiers and riders to pack out new terrain. "Two more lifts should open tomorrow (Nov. 23) or Wednesday (Nov. 24)," Slaughter said.
Squaw Valley USA, Heavenly Mountain Resort, Mt. Rose-Ski Tahoe, and Northstar-at-Tahoe opened this weekend amid squalls depositing several feet of snow. Skiers and riders found themselves sinking into powder for their first runs of the season rather than firm machine-made snow.
Other resorts bumped up their openings to this week, just in time for the Thanksgiving holidays. Sierra-at-Tahoe announced that they would open Tuesday, Nov. 23.
Several resorts originally planning to open in December are scrambling to open Nov. 24. Kirkwood Mountain Resort found their season total hitting 125 inches, thanks to the storm. The resort plans to run two chairlifts by Wednesday. Sugar Bowl Resort is also aiming to open Wednesday as well. Dodge Ridge is planning to run chairs six lifts and open 40 percent of the resort's terrain Nov. 24, followed by enlarging to 80 percent of their terrain by Thanksgiving Day.
The storm is predicted to bring high intensity snowfall after midnight tonight and run through Tuesday, according to the Sierra Avalanche Center. Southwest winds are expected to increase Tuesday to 30-75 mph, depending on elevation with gusts 70-110 mph. In its wake, blue skies are expected to blanket the Sierras for Thanksgiving holiday skiing.
Check out snow conditions at OnTheSnow.