Snow hitting the Sierra Nevada mountains on Wednesday and Thursday should lead to more openings at Lake Tahoe-area ski resorts in the coming days and weeks, perhaps as soon as this weekend.
As much as 15 inches of snowfall hit Palisades Tahoe on Wednesday with more expected to come via Thursday evening’s storm, while nine of Tahoe’s 13 ski resorts are open and wading through the early portion of the season.
“For Northstar, Heavenly and Kirkwood, we’re feeling really good about this weekend,” said Ashlee Lambert, communications director of the Vail resorts in Tahoe. “We got 9 inches at Northstar and Kirkwood (Wednesday night) and are expecting more (Thursday). Heavenly got 6 inches on the ridge. So with that natural snow fall and all the snow making we’ve been able to do with the colder temperatures, our teams are pretty optimistic about opening up some more terrain in the next week or so.”
Northstar as of Thursday had seven lifts and 10 trails open. Heavenly has six lifts and eight trails open, amounting to just 6% of its available terrain.
Mountains are still making artificial snow while the annual snowpack is currently 34% of normal levels, according to OnTheSnow.com’s Tahoe snow report. The snow levels are considered typical of this time of year, with last year being a historic outlier. Palisades reported 7.5 feet of snow from Dec. 1 to Dec. 11 of 2022, in one of the most snow-heavy seasons in history.
Mt. Rose currently has the most open terrain with 14 runs available, and six of eight lifts open, as of Thursday afternoon. Kirkwood, which opened last Friday, is 4% open with four runs available while the vast majority of Tahoe’s ski resorts have just a handful of runs open.
According to the National Weather Service, temperatures throughout the Tahoe region are expected to reach 38 to 48 degrees on Saturday and 42 to 47 degrees on Sunday, which isn’t ideal for artificial snow-making but can still have a positive long impact, Lambert said.
“When the temperatures are a little bit warmer, a lot of times what we get is called ‘Sierra cement,’” Lambert said, “which doesn’t sound very good. But especially early in the season, it helps us create a really solid base. ... It does impact our ability to make snow because we need cold pretty cold temperatures in order to (spread) snow.”
Getting up to Tahoe and traveling around shouldn’t be negatively impacted by the weather. The snow was forecast to stop Thursday with sunny conditions Friday for those driving up the hill. Beyond Thursday’s flurries are clear conditions through next Wednesday, according to the weather service.
Four resorts are expected to open next Friday, Dec. 15: Donner Ski Ranch, Homewood Mountain Resort, Sierra-at-Tahoe and Tahoe Donner..