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Snow nears record levels at ski resorts

By: Gloria Young, Journal Staff Writer
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For Sierra resorts, there’s no business like snow business as March totals continue to pile up. The weekend’s storms added 9 feet to an already robust snowpack, according to Pettit Gilwee, public relations spokeswoman for North Lake Tahoe. “I’ve lived here for 15 years and never seen this much snow,” she said in a phone message. “My husband had to shovel out our downstairs windows three times this winter and that has never happened.” At Squaw Valley, the snowpack is at 250 inches. It hasn’t been that high since 1952, resort spokeswoman Amelia Richmond said Tuesday. Squaw just hit 600 inches — 50 feet — of snow for the season, for only the third time since 1970. “Our record highest (since 1970) is 662 inches,” Richmond said. “There’s a good chance we’ll hit 700 inches and that’s never been done before on record. Donner Summit has recorded 700 inches only a couple of times since 1880.” All that bounty is keeping enthusiasm high for winter sports. “I think it has impacted people wanting to ski longer, with this much snow,” she said. “You get to times in spring where people move on to other activities — biking, hiking …When they see snow like this, they are still excited about skiing because of this incredible powder.” The resort’s ski season runs through May 8 and that won’t change. “We’ll be staying open (with a daily schedule) longer than other resorts already,” Richmond said. Alpine Meadows will also remain open “well into May,” according to spokeswoman Rachael Woods. “So far this March, Alpine’s base lodge had received 11 feet of snow (140 inches),” Woods said. “On the mountain, we’ve received more than 16 feet. It’s going to make for a wonderful spring.” March is typically a big snow month, with Alpine averaging 66.9 inches. “As of today (Tuesday), this is the fifth largest March since 1970-71,” Woods said. “It will be interesting to see how much accumulation we receive once all is said and done.” How is the epic snowfall translating into crowds? “With impressive snow storms, we do receive increased interest,” she said. “We have lots of skiers and boarders interested in visiting. For Tahoe in general, it has been a great season thus far and we’re so thrilled about the quality and quantity of the snow we’ve received.” Sugar Bowl is celebrating 92 inches of new snow, putting it over the 600-inch mark for the season, spokesman John Monson said in a press release. In fact, this winter is exceptional in high elevation snow, says weather historian and author Mark McLaughlin. “Several Tahoe ski resorts will be closing in on 700 inches total snowfall for the season to date,” he said in an e-mail. “That’s far from the state record of 883 inches during the winter of 1907, but we still have plenty of time to boost this year’s numbers. In any event, I would expect this winter to rank somewhere in the top 10 for high elevation snowfall.” Reach Gloria Young at gloriay@goldcountrymedia.com.