With as much as 6 feet of new snow expected at the upper elevations of the Lake Tahoe region by Monday, skiers and snowboarders will likely receive the gift of fully open ski resorts this Christmas.
Kirkwood Mountain Resort has been 100 percent open for several weeks, while Heavenly Mountain Resort and Sierra-at-Tahoe Ski Resort were just more than 90 percent open Friday, according to resort representatives.
Heavenly was able to open the Boulder Lodge base area, the Boulder chairlift, Galaxy chairlift and North Bowl chairlift Friday, as well as the Groove Terrain Park, said Heavenly Mountain Resort spokesman Russ Pecoraro.
He said it's reasonable to expect the resort to be fully operational if the this weekend's storms produce snow as anticipated.
"Really all we're missing is The Face and the Ante Up Terrain Park," Pecoraro said.
Heavenly staff have moved snowmaking equipment to the High Roller Terrain Park in anticipation of building larger jumps and the resort's halfpipe, Pecoraro said.
Sierra-at-Tahoe had 39 of 46 trails open Friday and expected to be fully open following the weekend's storms, resort spokesman Steven Hemphill said.
The resort had two terrain parks open as of this week, and expects to open its signature terrain parks following this weekend's storms. Although this weekend's weather will certainly help the snow-intensive process of building the resort's halfpipe, there are no immediate plans to open the popular terrain feature, Hemphill said. The resort has also not opened its backcountry gates and will closely monitor conditions before making the decision to do so, according to the spokesman.
He warned that, despite the snow, early-season conditions still exist. He urged people to stay on designated runs.
This year's snowfall is tracking ahead of the 2010-11 season that saw nearly twice as much snow hit the Sierra as normal. As much snow has already fallen this season as did by April 1 of last year, Hemphill added.
"We are extremely excited about the snow that is coming in," Hemphill said. "It's going to make for a great powder-filled holiday for all the guests coming up."