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Andy Wertheim: Good News From TDLT

The NAM is showing a few inches possible by tomorrow.

The NAM is showing a few inches possible by tomorrow. Image via TwisterData.com

Skiers and Boarders,

A little more snow is expected tonight that should help cover up a few slick spots on the mountain.  Yesterday’s small storm added a few inches making the skiing today quite good.  I was not out long today, but we did have some good skiing.  Gentian Gully remains filled with soft moguls, D7 has some icy faces on the sides of moguls otherwise it is pleasant enough, the Face is in good condition but a little bumpy, under Idiot’s Delight we found soft snow with bumpy rubble underneath.  All the groomed runs were firm, but held an edge.

A little more snow should smooth things out a bit more for tomorrow.

More good news from the Truckee Donner Land Trust.  Today they announced that they are under contract to purchase Carpenter Valley and 320 adjoining acres.  This property is north of Alder Creek Road (the back way to Tahoe Donner from Hwy. 89).   The Land Trust has been purchasing large pieces of environmentally sensitive land in the Donner Truckee Area for a number of years for the long term health of tributaries running into the Truckee River, Donner Lake and other local lakes.  After acquiring the property they often make efforts to restore the water courses to there natural routes.  Their efforts are preserving land for all of our use in the future.  Click the link see their latest newsletter.

Enjoy your day,

Andy Wertheim

A Sleeper Pow Day…Probably The Last For A While

We had two little storms forecast for this week, both so small that they were barely worth mentioning. Initially, it looked like the Wednesday storm would be the stronger of the two. But the Tuesday storm came in and brough a nice but cold surprise to skiers and riders today. Tomorrow’s storm will bring another inch or two, and hopefully more. After that, the pattern changes pretty radically.

Here’s the report from today from Hairfarmer:

Woke up to light snow that was a bit heavier than anticipated and 2″ in the parking lot at 8:30 am. Went right to Summit, which opened 5 minutes early, maybe because not many souls were here today?

I hooked up with Jay and due to flat light and light fog at the top we headed to Scott and Lakeview, where we ripped the 3-5″ of blower on top of perfect corduroy. After a frigid toe freezing 70 minutes of hot laps on Lakeview, we ducked in to the Chalet to warm our frosty toes.

It was FRIGID this morning by Tahoe standards but with an inch an hour dropping I can take it !! After our warm up it was off to Scott chair. Scott Chute looked like it was skiing and riding great but we had other ideas. Promised Land, Gentian, Lower 40, and everything on the north side of Scott chair was…. well let’s just say it was a sleeper pow day that refreshed every hour until the sun peeked out around 1:30. See you tomorrow!

– Hairfarmer

Hopefully there’s one more little surprise for tomorrow before a ridge builds in. The ridging looks stronger than anything we have seen since the season began back in November. Bryan Allegretto at OpenSnow.com has noted a couple of interesting details over the last week as this dry spell was materializing.

• We have not seen a week without rain or snow since the season began back in November

• Even during the snowiest season in recent memory, 2010-2011, we had a nearly 6 week dry spell during January and early February. Once the storm machine turned back on around President’s day, it continued to snow and snow and snow into May and beyond.

So it wouldn’t be quite correct to panic yet and say the season is over because we’re going to get some sunny and potentially warm weather. Here’s the latest run of the 18Z GFS model showing accumulated precipitation. That tiny little bit of green around Tahoe represents tomorrow’s storm. Everything after that moves to the North. The first hope of a significant change remains at least 10 days out.

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Howard Sheckter at MammothWeather.com has done an admirable job of deciphering this less than typical El Niño event this season. This year’s event seems to be heavily influenced by the Madden-Julian Oscillation, which is not normal El Niño behavior. Howard made a convincing argument today that the ridge breaks down and we see another strong storm cycle from late February into March.

The temperature anomalies as we head into next week may also bring either a smile or a frown to your face. By next week, we could be looking at the 50’s in Tahoe. It’s happened before and it will likely happen again. It will be an opportunity to enjoy a little taste of spring just a bit early.

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So the ski forecast….hopefully one more powder day tomorrow, then cold chalky winter snow into the weekend. As the weekend ends, and weather warms, it should take a day or two before we should see a transition to corn on south facing slopes. That’s not such a bad thing, especially if the Ice Bar is open.

The Ice Bar…Finally

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The first customers of the season…

As we head into our first real stretch of springlike weather since the mountain opened this season, it’s awesome that the Ice Bar finally opened today. We heard the skiing was pretty good too, with essentially zero traffic.

As of today, the weather is looking perfect for the Ice Bar by next weekend.

As of today, the weather is looking perfect for the Ice Bar by next weekend.

How Bad Do You Want To Ski Powder?

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It was another excellent day of skiing at Alpine Meadows. We’re not going to say it was epic, it was just your average powder day, with 6 inches reported in the morning and maybe another 6 or 8 inches falling through the day. There were most definitely some awesome turns found by many people. But we’re guessing that those turns may be soon forgotten, and instead they will remember the trip home.

Let’s talk about the skiing first. It was one of those rare days where Summit loaded for a good ten minutes before the first person loaded on Roundhouse. We quickly hoofed it up the hill and headed to the top, finding some near perfect turns at Tower 19. We headed directly to Scott, along with a good portion of the Northern California and Nevada population. Still we managed a couple of good laps before the line was extending beyond the corral and toward the Chalet.

As the afternoon came around, people did indeed leave early, so the lines were a bit shorter…and the weather got colder and snowier. That lead to some great ski conditions, but some very long trips out of Alpine Meadows. Today people sent pictures of traffic, not powder turns. The trip from Alpine Meadows back into Truckee was 2 hours at closing time. Here’s Andy’s report on the day:

Andy Wertheim: Traffic, Traffic and More Traffic

Skiers and Boarders,

We are just completing another wonderful weekend of skiing for those that were able to access the ski areas.  Traffic has been backed up each morning for miles, making the commute from Truckee extremely slow.  We are talking hours in some cases.  Now it is reversing with traffic backed up into Alpine Meadows and slow at least through the Squaw Valley stop light.  Alpine and Squaw were packed to the maximum.  Parking was at a premium.

Last weekend a friend who lives near Dollar Hill gave up trying to get to Alpine Meadows due to the traffic backup with people trying to get to Squaw Valley. This weekend he got to Alpine (late of course) and was unable to find a parking space as the lower lot was full, and they were supposedly turning people away.  By the way, he is a season pass holder.  If you are lucky enough to have a home in Alpine or Squaw then you can just sit tight and wait until early morning or late in the evening to leave Tahoe for the Bay Area.  If not, you sit in you car for hours.

Maybe there is a solution to this mess that has been irritating many skiers this season, but I have no idea what it might be at this point.  Building more bedrooms to attract more visitors does not seem to be the answer to me.  Add the slick snow covered roads we have tonight to the mix and you have an untenable situation.

On the other side of the coin, it was really good skiing today.  It snowed lightly with very little wind blowing most of the day.  Enough new snow fell overnight to make the surface soft and powdery.  We spent a lot of time turning through the trees in Gentian Gully and Promised Land.  Visibility is always better in the trees.  We had fun searching out short slopes, with fresh powder after many of the normal trails were cut up.

Enjoy your day,

Andy Wertheim

On a side note, Andy was quoted today by Jules Older, author of the popular Slope Dope blog at the San Francisco Chronicle. It’s nice to be getting some recognition from someone who has been writing about skiing for most of their lives.

The traffic situation this year is certainly getting people’s attention. We asked two weeks ago if it were just pent up demand, or that most resorts in Tahoe have moved to dirt cheap passes that have been oversold. By and large, “pent up demand” has been people’s answers. It would be interesting to see a comparison of pass sales over the last 4 years.

Some people have even suggested that it’s always been this way and that we have all forgotten what Tahoe can look like in a good year. They’re right, if you’re talking about a powder day on a major holiday weekend. But this was neither a major holiday weekend, nor a major powder day.

Cars were lined up on Highway 89 all afternoon.

Cars were lined up on Highway 89 all afternoon.

Things were no better over at Squaw Valley.

Things were no better over at Squaw Valley.

We’re guessing that in the scientific sense of things, that there is a feedback loop that will help self correct the problem. We can imagine that in hundreds of cars stuck in traffic somewhere in Tahoe today, some parent is saying “Never again will we come to Tahoe for skiing.” As for me, I’ll back up my morning departure time another 15 minutes and leave the mountain just a bit earlier again next weekend. Cheers to those that can ski midweek!

It's those powder turns that keep us coming back...

It’s those powder turns that keep us coming back…

A Little Powder After A Lot Of Rain

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The first really big atmospheric river event of the season has now passed and it appears that most of us did okay. According to Squaw Valley, about 5.5 inches of rain fell before things turned to snow sometime around midnight. It was also fortunate that Squaw Valley seems to get more snow, reporting in with 8 inches today compared to Alpine Meadow’s measily 4 inches. It all worked out okay though. That 4 inches, or more, of new snow turned out to be much less dense that what we would expect after an AR event. That led to a really nice day of skiing with full parking lots and busy slopes – but not the soul crushing crowds of last weekend. Here’s Andy’s report from the day:

Andy Wertheim: A Little Powder

Skiers and Boarders,

Another surprise awaited us this morning.  After a dismal day on Friday when rain poured down from the skies into the darkness of night, 4 inches of snow fell before dawn on Saturday  morning.  Water was pouring over the roadways as we drove up to the base of Alpine Meadows.  It was not very encouraging, but we have learned in the past that you never know until you go.  One wonderful bonus of all the rain is that the Truckee River is flowing strongly for a change.  It has been months since the river looked like a river.

Once our skis hit the slope we realized our fears were misplaced.  The experience was one of sliding through untracked butter.  4 inches of soft, white, smooth, and delicious snow.  We skied God’s Knob, Gentian Gully, and the areas under High Yellow and Sherwood Cliffs.  It was another good morning at Alpine Meadows. Posted below is Bob’s video from the day.

Enjoy your day,

Andy Wertheim

We found that some areas of the mountain saw just a bit more traffic than others today, with some of it just being inexplicable. While standing in line at Lakeview, we noted that there was a line, line control and that every chair was completely full around 12:30. How often do you see that? After taking a lap on Outer Outer, there was even a stream of people hiking back to Sherwood along Courchevel Road.

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Other areas of the mountain were pleasantly empty.

For tomorrow, it looks like we can expect another 6 inches or so of new snow with a Tonapah low forming over Nevada. In these sort of events, Squaw Valley will normally get much more new snow than Alpine Meadows.

The Waiting

As promised the rain has been hammering down around Tahoe all day. By unofficial accounts, more than 3 inches has fallen already around Truckee. The temperatures are still warm and all we can do now is wait for what tomorrow brings.

The updated forecast discussion notes that the snow levels are dropping a bit slower than initially forecast, and that’s something we never like to hear as skiers and riders.

WE`VE MADE A FEW ADJUSTMENTS TO INCREASE QPF AND RAISE THE SNOW LEVELS IN THE SIERRA FOR TONIGHT AND INTO SATURDAY MORNING. LATEST GFS AND NAM RUNS HAVE BEEN KEEPING THE SNOW LEVELS HIGHER WITH HIGHER QPF AMOUNTS ALSO…SNOW LEVELS ARE EXPECTED TO DROP A BIT LATER THAN ORIGINALLY THOUGHT, WITH SNOW LEVELS COMING DOWN TO PASS LEVEL (7000 FEET) AROUND 10PM THIS EVENING AND THEN TO LAKE TAHOE LEVEL AFTER 4AM SATURDAY. UP TO 6 TO 12 INCHES ARE LIKELY BETWEEN 7000-8000 FEET, WITH LESS THAN 6 INCHES AT LAKE LEVEL. UP ABOVE 8000 FEET, WE COULD SEE TOTAL SNOW AMOUNTS OF UP TO 1-3 FEET OF HEAVY WET SIERRA CEMENT.

The latest data from he remote sensor shows that temperatures remain very warm at the base of Alpine Meadows, but are remaining in the slush zone at the Summit. Winds are still strong at the Summit but are expected to drop in intensity overnight.

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Lastly, here’s a great satellite image released by NOAA today that shows the clear fetch of tropical moisture from the system. Ultimately, it is all about the water for parched western states…and we’ll keep watching and waiting for the temperatures to drop to more seasonable levels.

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