Warm November stalls opening plans for Tahoe ski resorts

Warm weather during November has challenged snowmaking crews at Northstar California Resort.

Warm weather during November has challenged snowmaking crews at Northstar California Resort.
Photo: Katey Ham / Vail Resorts

Dry, warm conditions have stalled lifts, challenged snowmaking efforts, and kept skiers and riders from enjoying early season turns at Tahoe-area resorts.

A significant storm at the end of October allowed resorts like Palisades Tahoe and Boreal Mountain Resort to have their earliest openings in several years while several other ski areas raced to begin the 2021-22 winter year.

Those plans were dashed by a November that was roughly 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit above normal in South Lake Tahoe, averaging 54.5 degrees for daytime highs with 0.76 inches of precipitation, according to the National Weather Service office in Reno.

The weather service added there’s a potential for storms this week, but warm temperatures may result in rain at lower elevations in the Sierra.

Northstar California Resort had been eyeing a mid-November opening, but warm temperatures melted those plans as resort officials look to December to begin spinning lifts.

“We have not experienced enough hours of consistently cold temperatures to complete the amount of snowmaking needed to provide a quality opening day experience for our guests,” said Sara Roston, Vail Resorts West Region director of communications, in an email. “It goes without saying that our snowmaking teams have been, and will continue, working around the clock as temperatures allow, and are ready to make snow at a moment’s notice.

"They are constantly monitoring the weather minute-by-minute and have the snow guns cranking whenever possible.”

Roston said Vail will announce opening dates for its three regionally operated resorts — Northstar California Resort, Heavenly Mountain Resort, and Kirkwood Mountain Resort — as soon as conditions allow.

Boreal Mountain Resort began operations in October and remains open seven days a week via the Castle Peak Quad Chairlift, giving access to nearly a dozen park features.

Sister resort Soda Springs Ski Resort has its Planet Kids area open, which includes beginner terrain, the snowplay area, and its carousel. Also on Donner Summit, Sugar Bowl Resort is waiting on colder weather as well to open for the year.

Palisades Tahoe likewise anticipated a historic early start to the season, opening in October for the third time in 72 years of operation.

Warm weather and a lack of snow, however, have left the resort operating its lower mountain lifts, First Venture and Kaya, which give access to beginner terrain.

Other area resorts, such as Tahoe Donner and Homewood, continue to target later in December to begin operations.

Justin Scacco is a staff writer with the Sierra Sun. This
story first published Dec. 3 and is republished here with permission. 


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