It’s gonna be huge: Lake Tahoe ski resorts look to trump weather issues in time for busy Presidents Day weekend
February 16, 2017
By the numbers
Diamond Peak average snowfall past 20 years (compared to 2016-17):
December: 35 inches average, (50 inches this year)
January: 39 inches average, (227 inches this year)
February: 41 inches average, (43 inches as of Feb. 13)
Mt. Rose’s top 7 snowfall years since the 1980s (at upper mountain):
94-95: 600 inches
82-83: 570 inches
16-17 (as of Feb. 10): 553 inches
81-82: 520 inches
85-86: 500 inches
92-93: 470 inches
98-99: 448 inches
Squaw Valley cumulative snowfall since 2010-11 (at upper mountain):
476: Feb. 11, 2017
313: Feb. 18, 2016
140: Feb. 10, 2015
144: Feb. 10, 2014
270: Feb. 8, 2013
91: Feb. 13, 2012
304: Feb. 14, 2011
TAHOE-TRUCKEE — In a winter season where it seems every other day or so is a powder day at Lake Tahoe, we are on our way to having a ski season that will go down in history.
North Tahoe-Truckee resorts have been reporting record amounts of snowfall, as staff has been continuously digging out chairlifts, working with local agencies to keep the roads open, and doing whatever it takes to keep functioning throughout torrential winter storms.
As another weather system is predicted to roll through this week, regional resorts are gearing up for Presidents Day weekend — and, the following week, Feb. 20-24, of Ski/Skate Week in California and Winter Break in Nevada for regional families.
"It all depends on the weather, if the roads are open and people are able to get up here (about how busy Diamond Peak will be)," says Diamond Peak Marketing Manager Paul Raymore. "As for stoke level heading into this Presidents Day weekend, it's high. Our staff and family of skiers and riders are all really happy to see another heaping helping of fresh snow covering the slopes after this past week's storms."
"We're excited to have the entire mountain open with a deep snowpack that will provide excellent conditions this Ski/Skate Week holiday."
"We can't complain about being fully open by January 3 and shutting off snowmaking; we'll have a solid snowpack through spring," Raymore adds. "It's been challenging with the storms, but the weather's gotten cold and the mountain has been beautiful."
THERE IS SUCH A THING AS TOO MUCH SNOW
According to the resort, Diamond Peak has recorded 76,740 skier visits as of Feb. 11 (its second-most ever), compared to the 98,237 skier visits at this time in the 2015-16 season.
According to the resort, skier visits were much higher a year ago because the weather was more consistent in 2015-16, and fewer instances of power outages or road closures impacted operations.
Looking at its data from the last 10 years, Diamond Peak had its third highest skier visits in the 2010-11 season (hosting 73,534 skiers as of Feb. 11), which marked North Lake Tahoe's last big snow year.
A few miles north of Incline Village, Mt. Rose Ski Tahoe is looking at a record-breaking year in snowfall, with 553 inches to date at upper mountain as of Feb. 10, marking the resort's third snowiest season ever since 1981 — and the season's not over yet.
However, like has been the case with Diamond Peak and other regional resorts, intermittent road closures since the beginning of the year due to abnormally stormy weather has obstructed skier visits, said Mt. Rose Marketing Director Mike Pierce.
"Sometimes this much snow can be too much of a good thing," Pierce said. "We're off about 5-10 percent due to key days impacted by weather."
However, Pierce says that generally, the current ski season is, "legendary as far as the sheer amount of snow in such a small period of time."
Heading into Presidents Day weekend, Pierce says powder hounds have had their fair share this year and that conditions could not be any sweeter.
"The appetite for skiing and riding is at a maximum," he says.
'ON TRACK FOR A HISTORIC SEASON'
Like the rest of North Tahoe, Squaw Valley Alpine Meadows has been experiencing an above average snowfall season as well. As of Feb. 11, the combined resort has received 476 inches of snow at upper mountain, which surpasses its annual average of 450 inches — and easily the 313 inches of snow that fell in the 2015-16 season.
"We had a record-breaking January — the most snow accumulation we have ever seen at Squaw Valley or Alpine Meadows," says Squaw Alpine Public Relations Director Liesl Kenney. "With more snow in the forecast in the coming weeks, we are on track for a historic season — and a long one at that."
She added that Squaw Alpine is already planning to extend its operations into June and possibly longer.
Although the mountain doesn't disclose skier visits, its parking lots have been filling up quickly on the weekends — which has been the norm this year at other ski areas located off heavily traveled roads, including Northstar California and Heavenly Mountain Resort.
Going into the holiday, Kenney encourages guests to utilize its POW Carpool parking (for four or more passengers per vehicle) and use public transit.
For more information on how to best get in and out of Squaw Alpine, visit http://squawalpine.com/explore/blog/parking-operations.
Meanwhile, Sugar Bowl Resort at Donner Summit reports snowfall totals of 363-536 inches so far this season, meaning it's well above its season average of 500 inches.
Sugar Bowl Marketing Director Jon Slaughter says the resort received 309 inches in January alone, and 53 inches in February so far.
"This season has been tremendous. While weather and road conditions have presented some challenges during the storms, they fortunately have cleared up right when we needed to them to," he says. "Thanks to all the snow, I anticipate operations running into May."
Kayla Anderson is an Incline Village-based freelance writer. Email her at email@example.com.