Not a mirage: It’s snowmaking season at Lake Tahoe
Slow motion snow scenes in Reno. Jason Bean
Manufactured snow flying at Mt. Rose but Mother Nature will decide when it’s time to ski
Your eyes aren’t deceiving you. Snow is piling up on the lower reaches of Mt. Rose Ski Tahoe.
Whether it will be enough to meet an ambitious Oct. 27 opening date for skiers and snowboarders remains to be seen.
The ski area started producing snow last week and will continue as conditions permit.
The resort needs a packed base that’s at least 10-inches deep in order to open, said marketing director Mike Pierce.
They’re starting in the beginner area by the main lodge with hopes of opening before Halloween.
“We’re optimistic that is doable,” Pierce said.
While Mt. Rose has 26 snowmaking guns it can dedicate to the cause, Mother Nature ultimately sets the schedule.
Pierce said low humidity and temperatures around 28 degrees or colder for four or more consecutive hours are ideal for snowmaking.
Those conditions might be scarce in the coming days and weeks, said Chris Smallcomb, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Reno.
“The next seven to 10 days are mixed for snowmaking potential,” Smallcomb said. “From what I can tell the balance of October may wind up being somewhat on the warm side.”
Pierce said Mt. Rose opened by Halloween in 2009. Last season the resort opened Nov. 16 and the year before on Nov. 4, Pierce said.
Snowmaking is scheduled to begin at Kirkwood, Heavenly and Northstar resorts on Nov. 1. Heavenly and Northstar hope to open Nov. 17 and Kirkwood could open as early as Nov. 22, spokesman Kevin Cooper said.
Squaw Valley-Alpine Meadows also has snowmaking machinery in place and ready to fire when conditions permit, said spokesperson Liesl Hepburn. The resorts have an opening day target of Nov. 17.
The 2017-18 ski season will follow the hottest summer on record in Reno, with an average temperature of 77.2 over the months of June, July and August. The prior record was 76.2 in 2007.
Prior to the record-setting summer, the Reno-Tahoe area and much of the Sierra Nevada had one of the snowiest winters on record. Mt. Rose Ski Tahoe recorded 768 inches of snow during the 2016-17 season, among the highest totals in the U.S.
Northstar California terrain park manager Michael Schipani and Snow Park Technologies senior project manager and snowcat operator Frank Wells explain what makes a great snow feature. Benjamin Spillman/RGJ