Avalanche advisory follows skier’s death, heavy Sierra snow

By: Gus Thomson and Associated Press
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Sierra ski resorts are ramping up avalanche safety this weekend in the wake of the death of a Tahoe City skier in a slide at Squaw Valley USA. While reveling in snowfall that is bringing skiers to the slopes in droves, resorts are tempering their post-Christmas excitement following a series of cold storms with warnings to skiers about avalanche danger. Alpine Meadows received an additional 35 to 48 inches of snow between Wednesday and Friday, pushing the December snow accumulation total to more than 9 feet at its base lodge 6,835 feet above sea level. At mid-mountain’s 7,500-foot elevation , Alpine was reporting more than 13 feet. “That accumulation is remarkable, considering that Alpine’s average snowfall accumulation for the month of December is 69 inches,” said Gary Murphy, of the Alpine Meadows Ski Patrol. More snow is forecast for the next several days. On Friday, the U.S. Forest Service issued an advisory describing moderate avalanche danger in backcountry areas above the treeline. The advisory applies to the Lake Tahoe area. Tahoe City skier Randall Davis, 21, was discovered Thursday under a thick layer of snow at Squaw Valley on a steep, thickly forested slope. The Placer County sheriff’s off ice reported Davis had disappeared while skiing in a blizzard on what is considered expert terrain. Resorts will be working to use explosives to reduce snow on steep slopes, close some areas and issue advisories to skiers. The Journal’s Gus Thomson can be reached at