Tahoe snowfall already tops all of 2014-15 winter; provides economic boost | SierraSun.com

Tahoe snowfall already tops all of 2014-15 winter; provides economic boost

Sebastian Foltz
sfoltz@tahoedailytribune.com

SOUTH LAKE TAHOE, Calif. — Weekend storms may have caused a fair number of people to call in sick Monday, Dec. 14, or at least shuffle their work schedule, to enjoy one of the first true powder days in recent memory.

With the Sunday, Dec. 13, storm, Tahoe area resorts received between 38 and 45 inches of fresh snow in a four-day period.

Heavenly Mountain Resort reported 14 inches from Sunday's storm alone, prompting enthusiastic skiers and snowboarders to line up at the lifts first thing Monday.

"It's great. You kind of forgot how much fun it was cause we haven't had a good powder day in years," said South Lake Tahoe resident Frank Muscat after a few morning runs. The local painter was able to delay the start to his work day in order to take advantage of what many are already calling the best snow in years.

"It was a real treat. Not too crowded, perfect conditions."

According to http://www.opensnow.com, with last weekend's storm, Heavenly has already exceeded its snow total from last winter. The mountain received 87 inches during the 2014-15 season and had already reached 97 inches following Sunday's storm.

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"Needless to say, people are pretty stoked out there," resort spokeswoman Cass Walker said.

Kirkwood Mountain Resort is also close to topping last season's numbers.

Resort spokesman Kevin Cooper said the mountain received 124 inches last winter. As of Tuesday, Dec. 15, the resort had reported 119 inches so far this season.

"It's the best start to the season since 2010-11," Cooper said. "With the new snow and total snowfall season-to-date, we are looking to open up our backside chairs this Thursday with 100 percent of our terrain (open) prior to the upcoming holidays."

BENEFITING BUSINESS

With the snowfall comes a much-needed boost to the Lake Tahoe Basin economy. Lodging numbers are up and winter dependent businesses are seeing a big boost.

"It's been amazing," Sierra Ski and Cycle Works owner Gary Bell said of business so far this winter. "Three years of pent up ski energy is all coming out at once right now. (Customers) are pulling out gear that they've never used the last couple seasons and getting it ready to go."

The longtime Tahoe business owner said he's had one of the best starts to the season in recent memory.

"People are walking in here all excited looking for this or that … They're fired up. That's fun for us when people are that excited," Bell said.

The last few down winters have been challenging for his shop, but he credited mountain biking- and cycling-related business for helping to fill the gap.

"We did OK," he said. "Last winter we did more bike business than ski business. It was nice to have that to fall back on. It's not the way we wanted to do it, but at least we had it."

It's that kind of fallback plan Lake Tahoe South Shore Chamber of Commerce president B Gorman said businesses have had to rely on.

"We had certain businesses that actually did quite well," she said in a recent interview with the Tahoe Daily Tribune, referring to restaurants, lodging and non-snow-related businesses. "They credited a different kind of visitor coming."

But Gorman also acknowledged the benefits that come with a good snow year.

"This is really significant for them to start the winter on such a strong note. It makes such a difference, particularly for anyone related to winter sports," she said.

Tahoe-Truckee area snow totals*

Squaw Valley: 14 inches (108 inches)

Alpine Meadows: 17 inches (108 inches)

Heavenly Mountain Resort: 14 inches (97 inches)

Northstar California: 17 inches (113 inches)

Kirkwood Mountain Resort: 12 inches (118 inches)

Mt. Rose Ski Tahoe: 20 inches (106 inches)

Sierra-at-Tahoe Resort: 12 inches (91 inches)

*Season-to-date cumulative, and after Sunday’s storm. Source: http://www.opensnow.com