What a difference a year makes.
In 2011, Lake Tahoe ski resorts were struggling to make enough snow to open for winter sport enthusiasts by Thanksgiving, but this year they are getting help from Mother Nature.
By Sunday night, resorts in Lake Tahoe could see as many as 2 feet of new snow as two storms move through the area, according to National Weather Service forecaster George Cline. More storms are expected next week as well.
The first storm, Cline said, will be lighter and warmer but still bring traces of new snow above 7,000 feet. But by Saturday night, a second storm will come to the Sierra Nevada and bring with it colder temperatures and more moisture.
The snow is a welcome gift for resort operators.
“It’s already a better start” compared to last year, said Amelia Richmond, a spokeswoman for the Squaw Valley USA resort. “We have storms in the forecast and it’s not showing any signs of stopping.”
Because of the snow expectations and the snow that was delivered last week, many resorts, including Squaw, are opening a week earlier than expected. At Squaw, Richmond said, they have had a cumulative total of 61 inches of snow this season. Last season, the resort had a total of 58 inches by Jan. 22.
Squaw will open today with two lifts running, Richmond said. Depending on how much snow drops Saturday and Sunday, the resort hopes to have an additional four lifts for Thanksgiving.
Sugar Bowl Resort also hopes to increase the number of lifts that will run for skiers and snowboarders by next weekend. John Monson, director of marketing and sales, said Sugar Bowl will be able to open three lifts and 15 runs, including top-to-bottom runs for the first day of their season Saturday.
By Thanksgiving, Monson said, “significant acreage will open.”
Boreal Mountain Resort, Northstar, Heavenly Mountain Resort and Kirkwood Mountain Resort are already operating some lifts and expect more terrain to be available as more snow arrives.
With new snow comes hazardous driving conditions, Cline said. He advised anyone traveling near the mountains to carry chains for their tires.
“Now it’s time to put them in your trunk and leave them there,” Cline said.