Sunday Jan 24 2010
Skiers flock to snowpack bonanza
By: Gloria Young Journal Staff Writer
An abundance of snow and a short break in the weather added up to big crowds at Sierra resorts during the weekend. Boreal, which received eight feet of snow during last week’s triple punch of winter storms, was swarming with boarders and skiers, according to Marketing Director Jon Slaughter. “We had an amazing weekend,” Slaughter said Sunday. “By noon Saturday and around noon (Sunday) we had exceeded what we did last year. Saturday pretty much doubled what we did last year.” It was a huge weekend for Squaw Valley USA, too. “It was just packed,” said Sean Kristl, Squaw marketing manager. “This weekend was one of our biggest of the season so far, and it wasn’t even a holiday weekend.” The resort’s Monster Energy Jibbing for Jacksons competition, held Saturday, drew three times as many entrants as the first one did, he said. “We definitely handled it,” Kristl said about the crowds. “We had more than six feet of new snow and a bunch of groomers laid down snow, so we had something for everyone here.” An accident Friday evening created a 20-mile backup on Interstate 80 into the Sierra as enthusiasts headed for the slopes, according to media reports. But Sunday’s traditionally heavy return traffic was calmer, although there were a number of spinouts, according to the California Highway Patrol incident information Web site. Despite an earlier fair weather forecast for the weekend, lingering snow Saturday morning necessitated chain controls for a while on I-80. “As soon as it cleared up, we started jamming right along,” Boreal’s Slaughter said. Chain controls were in effect again Sunday from Kingvale to the Donner Lake interchange, according to Caltrans. A mild storm system moving through Sunday brought snow levels down to 3,000 feet and was expected to drop 3 to 6 inches of snow through Sunday night and an additional 4 to 8 inches today, National Weather Service forecaster Johnnie Powell said. The forecast called for about an inch of rain in Auburn Sunday night and another inch through today, but with only light winds, according to Powell. “It’s just another in the series of systems coming through,” Powell said. “We’re in a wet pattern and the systems just keep lining up.” Although it seems like Northern California has seen a lot of rain this month, in fact precipitation figures are only slightly above normal, he said. “This is normal for January,” he said. “We’ve been dry for the past couple of years (so we forget).” The next break in the rain and snow will be Wednesday and Thursday, but more rain will arrive Friday, Powell said.