Visitors Have Some Man-Made Tahoe Fun

December 30, 2011

It is reported to be the driest December in the Lake Tahoe region in the past 100 years, but that hasn’t kept skiers and snowboarders from hitting the slopes and wetting their whistle at the respective ski lodges.

Village at Northstar

“The snow is actually pretty darn good,” said one patron as he enjoyed a cold beer after a day at Diamond Peak Ski Area. “I probably couldn’t tell the difference between the man-made stuff and the real stuff. The conditions seem normal to me.”

While the snow may seem normal on the slopes, the conditions are anything but. With pretty much no precipitation since before Thanksgiving, ski resorts throughout Northern California have been forced to make their own snow.

With extremely frigid temperatures, sometimes dropping to the low teens, that has not been a problem.

Yet, the brown panoramic views around Lake Tahoe have almost all locals and tourists wondering when the next storm will bring the white stuff. Outside a few north-side patches,  the only consistent snow that can be seen is under chair lifts.

Or in the case of Diamond Peak – chair lift.

“They only have one top-to-bottom run open, but I am pleasantly surprised at how good the conditions are,” said another skier.

Despite the lack of precipitation, it seems as if it’s business as usual. Just like all the Whos down in Whoville celebrated Christmas without any presents, outdoor winter enthusiasts are celebrating in Tahoe without the presence of natural snow.

With parking lots full and a huge crowd enjoying all the amenities the Village has to offer, Northstar-at-Tahoe is all abuzz this holiday.

“Wow. It was extremely enjoyable out there on the slopes, but a little bit crowded. Getting through the Village, past all the people at the ice rink and everywhere was quite the slalom course in itself,” said a young skier as he waited in the parking lot for his ride home.

No snow in the month of December is very unfortunate for a variety of reasons, but visitors and locals continue to make the most of it. Still, the dry conditions only continue to whet everyone’s appetite for some fresh powder skiing and snowboarding.

Tahoe Ski Resorts Ready to Ring in Holiday Crowds

December 20, 2011

As the popular saying goes, “Use what Mother Nature brings you before Father Time takes it away.”

While a very astute quote regarding life, when it comes to skiing and snowboarding in Lake Tahoe this holiday season, resort officials have decided to bring in their own weather as time continues to tick away.

Snow Making

There is no substitute for Mother Nature, but apparently  those in Tahoe are doing the best they can to make up for her interim absence.

Despite not a single snowflake falling from a cloud in weeks, there are more than 10 area resorts open for the holidays thanks to man-made snow. Below is a list of open ski areas, with a rough estimate of snow conditions in parenthesis:

Open Tahoe Ski Resorts

Alpine Meadows (18″)

Boreal Ski Resort (24″)

Diamond Peak Resort (24″)

Heavenly Ski Resort (24″)

Homewood (6″)

Kirkwood (11″)

Mt. Rose (16″)

Northstar-at-Tahoe (18″)

Sierra-at-Tahoe (8″)

Squaw Valley (12″)

Sugar Bowl (21″)

Having so many resorts open without a storm hitting the region in more than a month may seem odd. After all, the sunny skies are more apropos for a nice hike or day at the beach.

Yet, while Mother Nature refuses to bring what ski resort officials really want – white, fluffy snowflakes and lots of them – she is offering extremely low temperatures. And that has allowed snow-making machines to cover several designated areas and runs in frozen white gold.

Thus, while there are only a few scattered white patches on the north sides of roads throughout the Tahoe Basin, many mountain ski runs are covered at least a foot deep in snow.

As the popular saying goes, “The condition that Mother Nature is in, is the condition we are all in.”

While Father Time rapidly takes away the last few remaining days of 2011 and the weather continues to remain sunny, those conditions at Lake Tahoe ski resorts – to the delight of skiers and snowboarders – remain stormy.

Have a Wonderful Tahoe Holiday!

May Your Tahoe Christmas Be White

December 12, 2011

Irving Berlin wrote it more than 70 years ago in sunny Arizona of all places, but the setting might as well been modern-day Lake Tahoe. With no snow on the ground and less than two weeks until December 25, everyone is dreaming of a “White Christmas.”

While Bing Crosby’s version of the song is the best-selling single of all time, if snow doesn’t come soon, many Tahoe-area residents and vacationers may be following the tune of Elvis Presley by having a “Blue Christmas” instead.

Last week, business owners relayed their confidence that the season on the whole will be a good one. Their unwavering aplomb is mostly buoyed by last year’s extremely deep snowpack and the subsequent strong economic numbers.

After all, it’s not every year there are several ski resorts open on the Fourth of July.

It is still considered early in the season as winter doesn’t officially start until December 22. Thus, most still cling to the hope and feeling that it will be yet another good ski and snowboard season.

Still, it is an economic boon to have all resorts open during the holidays, especially before New Year’s, as that is one of the most busiest times of the year. Even though it might not look too good at this point, history states there’s a good chance snow will be on the ground come Christmas Day.

According to the National Climatic Data Center, the historic probability of a white Christmas in Tahoe is 90%.

With mostly sunny skies forecasted for the next week or so, there may be a lot of doubters that history will repeat itself.

But, hey, at least the odds are better than they were for the original  “White Christmas” dreamer back in 1940’s Arizona.

Economic Winter Outlook for Tahoe Remains Sunny

December 6, 2011

Despite the lack of white stuff on the ground and the weather forecast calling for blue skies ahead in the days to come, most Lake Tahoe, tourist-based business owners remain confident they’ll be in the black this winter.

“All of our indicators are pointing toward a very positive season,” Andy Chapman, director of tourism of the North Lake Tahoe Resort Association, told the North Lake Tahoe Bonanza newspaper. “We’re seeing a constant increase in growth.”

While a rain dance – or snow dance in this case – surely couldn’t hurt, the very cold temperatures have led to nearly round-the-clock snow making at several ski resorts. In fact, recent overnight lows have been in the single digits in the greater Tahoe-Truckee area and the highs only around 40 degrees.

Because of these frigid conditions, Boreal, Northstar-at-Tahoe, and Heavenly are already open even though there hasn’t been a non-mechanical storm to hit their respective resorts in weeks.

Northstar is reporting a base of 18 inches and Boreal, which opened in late October, is reporting roughly the same. Perhaps it’s because the options are limited at this stage, but skiers and snowboarders seem to be responding well.

“It’s been a strong start for us. If the storms are placed at the right time, we will remain really optimistic,” Jody Church, general manager of Boreal Ski Area, told an area reporter. “The momentum so far is very strong and we’re hopeful it’s going to be another great winter.”

The fact that last year was a near record-setter in terms of snow levels has also enticed many travelers to book their holiday getaway to the Sierra Nevada early. It is also early in the season and most outdoor enthusiasts realize there is no better place to spend the holidays – and other vacation time – than in beautiful Lake Tahoe.

Still, every ski resort and most area businesses rely upon tourism and getting into the black depends heavily on getting skiers and snowboarders into the fluffy white.

Thus, with nothing but blue skies expected for the next week or so, it probably couldn’t hurt to do a little ceremonial, precipitation-inducing  Tahoe two-step just in case.