Carson City, ski resorts celebrate snow

Jim Grant/Nevada AppealGabby Ward, 10, builds a snowman in the front yard of her home on West 4th Street Monday morning.

Jim Grant/Nevada AppealGabby Ward, 10, builds a snowman in the front yard of her home on West 4th Street Monday morning.

It took Susie McCurdy a little more than an hour to shovel the snow from her two driveways and the sidewalk around her west Carson City home Monday.

"With this kind of wet snow, it takes a little bit longer," she explained.

But she wasn't complaining.

"I'm happy, delighted," she said. "We needed it so bad. It's nice to have a storm and not have to worry about watering the plants. Hopefully, we'll get more."

Across Carson City, residents shoveled, plowed and blew snow, but also took time to celebrate the first significant snowfall of the season, which blanketed the area in 3 to 6 inches of snow.

Gabby Ward, 10, home-schooled through an online charter school, put her snowsuit on over her pajamas as soon as she woke up.

"She didn't even ask for breakfast," said her mother, Debra Ward. "She hopped up, put on her jacket, and out the door she went."

The family moved to Carson City from Plymouth, Calif., in April, excited by the prospect of snowy winters.

"So far, we've just been waiting," Ward said.

By late morning, they had the start of snowman built in the front yard - or what started out as a snowman.

"He looks more like a puppy dog," concluded Ward's boyfriend, Mark Niebauer.

Regardless of the outcome of the sculpture, Niebauer welcomed the snow.

"We're just thrilled to see it," he said. "We love snow, and we know it was so much needed."

Stacey Giomi, chief of the Carson City Fire Department, was relieved by the snowfall after a record dry winter fraught with devastating wildfire, including last week's Washoe Drive fire that burned through 6 miles and destroyed 29 homes.

"This is good," he said. "Really good. Hopefully, this has put an end to the ridiculous winter fires."

But, he cautioned, there always remains a danger.

"Dead stuff will still burn," he said. "And there's a lot of dead stuff out there."

In the Sierra, storms dropped 1 to 2 feet of snow since Thursday, with another 15 to 30 inches expected by this morning.

"It's great to have Mother Nature lending a hand," said Andy Chapman of the North Lake Tahoe Resort Association.

Despite the new snow, Sierra ski resorts still offered only limited operations. The Tahoe basin snowpack was only 25 percent of normal for the date.

Around Tahoe, eight of 170 runs were open at Squaw Valley, five of 100 trails were open at Alpine Meadows, and 32 of 97 trails were open at Heavenly. Farther to the south, Mammoth Mountain reported 51 of 150 runs open, while Kirkwood said six of 72 trails were open.

Jon Slaughter, spokesman for the Boreal resort atop Donner Summit, said he hoped Monday's storm would allow more terrain to open. Boreal reported 12 of 41 runs open on Sunday.

"I'm thrilled to see we actually have some natural snowfall," Slaughter said. "We're going to be able to rapidly expand the terrain. We should be able to groom more runs."

The storms came less than a week after a group of Paiute, Shoshone and Washoe tribal members performed a traditional ceremony seeking spiritual help to bring snow to the Sierra. Some 200 people took part on Jan. 15 at Homewood on Tahoe's west shore.

The current skiing and snowboarding season stands in marked contrast with last season, when roughly twice as much snow as normal fell in the Sierra and resorts stayed open later than usual to take advantage.

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