Ski resorts peg opening dates with possible winter storm approaching

Lake Tahoe ski resorts received a spattering of powder Thursday, reminding snow lovers and resort promoters that winter is on its way.

All three South Shore resorts aim to open before Thanksgiving.

Heavenly Mountain Resort's spokesperson Russ Pecoraro said the ski area will begin making snow Tuesday and will open Nov. 18.

"By the time Thanksgiving comes, you are a well-oiled machine," Pecoraro said.

Kirkwood Mountain Resort will also begin making snow Tuesday, spokeswoman Tracy Miller said, and will open Nov. 19 if all goes well.

Sierra-at-Tahoe hopes to open Nov. 18, depending on conditions.

"Sierra is dependent on natural snowfall," said spokeswoman Nicole Belt. "We have limited snow-making abilities so it's entirely based on snowfall. This is definitely a good start."

Sierra reported six inches at the top of its mountain Thursday. Kirkwood reported four inches while Heavenly said it got a "dusting."

Weathermen predict a slight chance of snow Friday, clearing up over the weekend.

At this time last year, jack-o'-lanterns were buried under four feet of powder. Some ski areas were open by Halloween.

Sierra-at-Tahoe closed last spring with more than 16 feet of base snow.

The heavy snowfall brought Lake Tahoe out of a multiple-year drought. Scientists at Desert Research Institute have been experimenting for years on how to get more snow out of storms in drought-ridden areas.

The institute has a cloud-seeding program, which squeezes up to a millimeter of extra snow out of each storm, totaling tens of thousands of extra acre-feet of snow water, according to Arlen Huggins, a researcher with DRI.

"It's a potential source of freshwater that doesn't require building of dams, or diverting of streams," Huggins said. "It produces water in the atmosphere that doesn't fall naturally."

The technique involves blasting silver iodide into the atmosphere, which binds to moisture.

They only do it when storms are cold enough, around 5 degrees below zero Centigrade at the mountain tops.

No seeding is planned for this storm, Huggins said.


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