We’re now just about half way through the season and one would expect that snow depths would really be adding up. But sadly, with each passing week, less terrain is available. Unless something radical happens soon, it may not be much longer before we’re skiing on that “white ribbon of death” again.
Temperatures began much cooler than expected today, with another east wind event in play. When we arrived at Alpine this morning, snow guns were active and Summit was on wind hold. Temperatures were cold enough that we came back to the locker after two laps to add another layer. Those colder temperatures also allowed the snowmaking guns to run until about 11:00 am this morning. Summit did open shortly after 9:00.
The groomed runs were typical for the conditions. There was varying amounts of sugary snow over a hardpack surface. With few people skiing off piste, the few groomed runs available felt crowded at times, even though it was not all that crowded today. Fortunately many visitors at Alpine were just watching the kids race at Kanagaroo, or they were just hanging out in the lodge, waiting for the kids race to be over.
Off piste terrain is dwindling rapidly. North-facing terrain still tends to be treacherously icy, and the sunnier exposures are burning out more and more each day. We ventured off groomed runs today on Bobby’s, Skadi Hill and Yellow. Areas near Sunspot and Dead Tree have become quite a bit more rock filled over the last week, and some of those rocks are hidden under that tiny little bit of new snow that was not schralped by the east wind.
We have to point out that the mountain staff is doing what they can to improve the ski experience:
• We saw somewhere around 20 active snow guns in operation this morning on Rock Garden, Dance Floor and near Meadow. Generally by this time of year, the snowmaking team is done for the season.
• Another intensive snow farming mission was completed around the base of Scott to harvest enough snow to keep the Scott loading area functional. Snow continues to magically appear to keep the Ridge run covered, but it was looking super thin today.
• Even though crowds were light today, ABC was spinning, which allowed people to avoid the greater traffic lower on the mountain.
• There was live music on the Sun Deck today, which was a great move to draw people out of the lodge, which was packed.
We’re hoping something changes soon. We’ve been continuing to keep our eyes on the models. People are certainly talking about the potential for a storm next weekend. The GFS has takes some interesting twists in the last 24 hours. The 00Z model run showed the potential for as much as 25 inches of rain along the north coast over the weekend.
That same run also brought the low just a bit deeper into California, allowing for a better possibility of rain in the Tahoe Basin. Later runs of the model today have scaled it back to a very modest AR event.
BA at OpenSnow.com noted yesterday that the ECMWF model brings the low directly where we want it, which would increase the likelihood that we would see snow instead of rain. On the other hand, NOAA latest 6-10 temperature forecast says that we have a “snowball’s chance in hell” of seeing snow next weekend. Frankly, I have never seen such a huge brown blob on that map, not one that suggests virtually a 100% chance of warmer temperatures.