Lake Tahoe's first major winter storm rolled through the Sierra Mountains on Sunday night, pelting the upper elevations of ski resorts with up to 3 feet of snow. "It's been a really cold storm," Russ Pecoraro, Director of Communications for [R169R, Heavenly Mountain Resort] told "We couldn't be more excited."

Most resorts across the region opened with 2 feet of fresh snow blanketing lower slopes. Chilly daytime temperatures from 8 to 20 degrees across the region kept the flakes dropping fast, light, and dry, with the lingering weather system pounding Tahoe with more heavy snowfall during the day on Monday.

"The system came in and sat on us," explained Pecoraro. "It will allow us to open a lot more terrain now."

Many of the Tahoe resorts began operating lifts several weeks ago, thanks to substantial snowmaking. But this is the first major boost of natural snow to cover slopes. [R299R, Northstar-at-Tahoe]'s snow reporter likened the difference between this year's December conditions and last year's as "night and day." Sugar Bowl bumped their operations from weekends only to daily starting Tuesday, Dec. 8, due to the storm.

The forecast calls for a break in the weather on Tuesday and Wednesday followed by a repeat performance with a second snow dance. The second weather system is expected to drop snow Thursday through Sunday.

[R5R, Alpine Meadows], [R67R, Boreal], [R283R, Mt. Rose], Northstar-at-Tahoe, [R419R, Squaw Valley], [R432R, Sugar Bowl], Heavenly, [R201R, Kirkwood], and [R362R, Sierra-at-Tahoe] are all open with limited terrain. The pair of storms this week will aid the areas in cranking up more lifts and opening more runs for skiing and riding. Several more Tahoe resorts also plan to open by Dec. 18.

Early season conditions exist at the Tahoe resorts despite the dump of new snow. Skiers and riders are advised to use caution and check the road status before driving to the slopes.

Check snow reports.