Lake Tahoe received seven feet of snow in just seven days.
Heavenly Ski Resort and Squaw-Alpine Meadows both received over 80 inches in the seven days totals that began on Valentine’s Day. The winter snow total for Heavenly is now approaching 550 inches.
Vail Resorts announced on February 22 in a press release that both Heavenly and Northstar will be extending their scheduled closing days by at least a week this year. The resorts will close April 30.
Other resorts in the area are even more ambitious. Squaw-Alpine plans to stay open until the Fourth of July this year. The large resort has seen some 565 inches of total snowfall this season – that’s over 47 feet.
“In 2017 alone, since January 1, we’ve had 460 inches,” said Sam Kieckhefer, a spokesperson for Squaw Valley Alpine Meadows. “Our season average is 450 inches. We received more snow since the start of 2017 than our average season. We are 91 days into our season, and we’re expecting to operate on July 4 and so that means we’re not even halfway done with the season.”
Image courtesy of Sierra Sun – Squaw Valley, 2017
After topping its 45-year historic record for snowfall in a single month with 282 inches in January, Squaw Valley Alpine Meadows has received nearly 15 feet in February with only a few days remaining. As of Wednesday, the resort has amassed 126% of its average annual snowfall, 63% of which fell in January alone.
Northstar was reporting 551 inches or nearly 46 feet of snow so far this year. Kirkwood has 556 inches or 46.3 feet. And the last time Sugar Bowl had this much snow by the end of February was 1983-1984 season when the snowfall total reached 629 inches. As of Wednesday, Sugar Bowl had received 565 inches. Mt. Rose Ski Tahoe (only a 15-minute drive from beautiful Montreux) has already received a staggering 636 inches, breaking its record for snowiest year to date.
The Sierra Nevada has received impressive snowfall totals this season due to a series of weather systems known as atmospheric rivers. The plumes of vapor start in the Pacific Ocean, collecting moisture as they travel across. When they reach land, they open like fire hoses pumping out rain and snow.
Scott McGuire, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service office in Reno explains the rivers further. “We usually see three or four atmospheric rivers in a season,” McGuire says. “We’ve already had 10. We’ve had so much snow to the point where it’s getting hard to measure.”
The series of storms have come back-to-back and the Sierra Nevada has the largest snowpack it has had in 22 years. Isaac Gilligan grew up in Europe, but now he lives in San Jose. He was preparing for a day of skiing Wednesday afternoon.
“This is more than in the Alps,” he said. “Even in the Alps I cannot see as much snow as I see here today.”
What About Après-Ski?
After all of the physical exertion on the slopes, it’s time to unwind. For the adventurist, the Oyster Bar at Hard Rock Hotel and Casino is a great place for any seafood lover looking to sample new cuisine. Enjoy fresh, seasonal oysters on the half shell and oyster shooters. Or create your own meal experience with Asian, American, Italian and Latin flavors over at Fire + Ice in Heavenly Village.
For more high-end spots, there are a few restaurants in the casinos to tempt your taste buds – Friday’s Station at Harrah’s and MontBleu Resorts’s Ciera Steak and Chophouse. For those who do not prefer a gaming environment, there are plenty of options. Chart House’s menu includes a wide variety of both steak and seafood from salmon, swordfish and filet mignon – the view of the lake is the perfect cherry on top. Café Fiore offers classy Italian cuisine, including eggplant crepes and a variety of pasta dishes. The Lake House has an upscale, yet comfortable ambience and offers a menu full of duck, trout and chicken choices.
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