Tahoe Nugget #25:
Snowmaking Nov. 2005
Winter is off to a slow start in the Sierra this year. An expected storm last week failed to deliver much snow as it was too warm and produced mostly
high elevation rain. The most snowfall recorded from this storm was 8 inches at the 9,300-foot level at the Mammoth Mountain Ski Resort. High pressure has kept all storms at bay so we have had beautiful weather with
sunny days and crisp nights. Fortunately for ski resorts (many had hoped to open Sat. Nov. 19, 2005), overnight temperatures have dropped into the mid teens this week and snowmaking has begun in earnest.
Snowmaking is expensive (energy and water intensive) and is just a drop in the bucket for trying to open the larger resorts in the Tahoe region, but
once enough of the homemade stuff is blown onto the groomed runs, a ski area can start running chair lifts and offer at least limited skiing. Unlike eastern ski areas that are counting on manmade snow to open their
mountain and maintain coverage on their runs, western resorts utilize snowmaking machines only when they have to. Meanwhile, hundreds of seasonal, recently hired, ski area employees are anxiously biding their time,
waiting for the winter storms that will provide snow and a paycheck.