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More travelers taking to the roads for holiday weekend

Many Sierra ski resorts are open
By: Gloria Young Journal Staff Writer
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The recent storm that dropped more than a foot of snow was perfect timing for Sierra ski resorts preparing to welcome visitors over the Thanksgiving holiday. Northstar at Tahoe and Squaw Valley USA opened Saturday, joining Boreal Mountain Resort — open since Oct. 9 — and Mt. Rose, which started operations Oct. 30. Squaw Valley, which is celebrating the 50th anniversary of hosting the Olympics and 60th anniversary of the resort, kicked off the season with a base-jump by professional skier JT Holmes, balloons and a cake. On Friday, 1968 Olympic gold medalist Peggy Fleming will skate with local children at the Resort at Squaw Creek, according to the Web site. The Resort at Squaw Creek’s gingerbread village unveiling and grand tree-lighting ceremoney will be from 5 to 8 p.m. Friday, Nov. 27. Sugar Bowl’s lifts move into action today and Alpine Meadows will begin welcoming skiers and boarders on Dec. 5, according to their Web sites. Homewood Mountain Resort’s projected opening date is Dec. 18. Diamond Peak Ski Resort at Incline Village will open Dec. 10, according to the Lake Tahoe Visitors Bureau. Soda Springs and Sierra at Tahoe have not yet announced an opening day. “We’re still waiting for a little bit more snow,” Sierra at Tahoe spokeswoman Kirstin Cattell said Monday. “We got close to a foot in Friday’s storm but it’s not quite enough. We need another big storm and we’ll be ready to open.” According to the National Weather Service in Sacramento, there’s a slight chance for a little more accumulation to start the holiday weekend. “We do see a weather system brushing north of us Thanksgiving night,” forecaster George Cline said Monday. “There might be some precipitation in the Sierra. But it won’t be heck of a lot.” Most of the activity will be north of Interstate 80, he said. After that, expect clearing skies. “It’ll be mostly sunny during the weekend,” Cline said. “Daytime (temperatures) might be a little above normal and overnight lows kind of chilly.” While the pleasant forecast and snow outlook likely will add up to a big weekend on the slopes, travel, in general, will be up from last year. AAA is predicting more than 3.5 million Californians will travel 50 miles or more for the extended holiday weekend, 8 percent more than last year. “This year’s expected increase in travel appears to reflect improved consumer confidence from a year ago, better financial market performance and a growing sense among many consumers that the worst of the global economic crisis is behind us,” said Cynthia Harris, AAA Northern California spokeswoman in a press release. More than 3 million Californians plan to travel by car, a 9 percent increase over last year. Another 267,000 will travel by air, a decrease of 1 percent from last year. Nationally, AAA expects 38.4 million people to travel 50 miles or more during the four-day weekend — a 1.4 percent increase compared to last year. Gloria Young can be reached at gloriay@goldcountrymedia.com.