Winter returns to area |

Winter returns to area

The landscape has changed, the sun has gone away and the golf clubs are going back to the closet for now. Last weekend, winter returned to the basin, bringing with it nearly three feet of snow to some ski resorts.

While ski area personnel and mountain-goers are breathing a sigh of relief at the return of Jack Frost, it will not be enough to remedy the lack of precipitation in February and March.

A warm spring gave birth to brown mountains and the premature closing of several resorts in the last two weeks, but those that remained open for business are now more confident about their decision.

“This storm definitely rejuvenated people’s interest in skiing and snowboarding. We left the door open and decided to see what would happen, and now we can end the season with really good conditions,” said Boreal Marketing Director Jody Churich.

For the resorts that had already set definitive closing dates, the new snow will not halt the wheels in motion.

“We are still looking to close on April 22. This new snow just means that areas we thought were not going to last, may now make it through the next two weeks,” said Northstar-at-Tahoe Public Relations Director Erin Bernall.

Nearly 20 inches fell at the Central Sierra Snowlab on Donner Summit over the weekend and the forecast is calling for cool temperatures throughout the week.

This considerable climate change may temper Easter plans for some, but for the resorts it arrived just in time.

“We have had a huge turnout this last week and business levels jumped dramatically. Easter weekend conditions should be great,” noted Sugar Bowl Public Relations Director Bill Hudson.

Nearly every resort slashed lift ticket prices at the end of March as an incentive to continue hitting the slopes.

These deals, such as Alpine Meadow’s Car Daze, Donner Ski Ranch’s $10 lift tickets and Squaw Valley’s $25 tickets for passholders for any mountain, will continue throughout the rest of the 2001 season.

Several resorts are also offering 2002 season passes that can be used for the remainder of this season. The Alpine Meadows/Sugar Bowl Choice Pass sale begins on Sunday, April 15 and Tahoe Donner and Northstar are already taking mugshots for next season.

While the weeks are numbered for Northstar, Sugar Bowl, Boreal and Soda Springs – which will all close for the season on April 22 ” Squaw Valley USA and Alpine Meadows will continue to run lifts into the month of May.

“We always planned on keeping the lifts running until May and hopefully this new snow will help to keep us going even longer,” said Squaw Valley USA Public Relations Director Katja Dahl.

For skiers and snowboarders, last weekend’s storm was compensation for a slow season.

But for motorists the onslaught of snow was not so enjoyable, making travel difficult as several major accidents stalled traffic on Interstate 80.

As temperatures begin to warm up again there is also potential for avalanches, and the U.S. Forest Service is warning backcountry hikers of the increased avalanche danger.

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