Epic Winter Season Buries Sierra Ski Resorts

SQUAW VALLEY (CBS SF) – After years of drought, Mother Nature has buried the Lake Tahoe ski resorts under more than 35 feet of snow this season.

And it’s not even March yet.

“Last year we had 440 inches of snow at the end of the season – that was the season total,” said Steven Hemphill. “Today, we are at 453. In this last storm surge, we surpassed last year. We’re gunning now for the 2010-11 record which is 763 inches. 300 (inches more) sounds a bit daunting but we would welcome the snow.”

Issac Gilligan grew up in Europe, but now he lives in San Jose. He was preparing for a day of skiing Wednesday afternoon.

“This is more than in the Alps,” he said. “Even in the Alps I cannot see as much snow as I see here today.”

Petaluma’s Nicole Bachman also was admiring the massive drifts near the ski runs.

“It’s been a long time,” she said of seeing such large levels of snow.

Squaw Valley Alpine Meadows has already surpassed its annual average snowfall of 450 inches by 115 inches, with months left to go in the season.

After topping its 45-year historic record for snowfall in a single month with 282 inches in January, Squaw Valley Alpine Meadows has received nearly 15 feet in February with seven days remaining.

As of Wednesday, the resort has amassed 126% of its average annual snowfall, 63% of which fell in January alone.

Northstar was reporting it has 551 inches – nearly 46 feet of snow so far this year. Heavenly in South Lake Tahoe has gotten 544 inches – 45 feet – and Kirkwood has 556 inches or 46.3 feet.

The last time Sugar Bowl had this much snow by the end of February was 1983-84 when the snowfall total had reached 629 inches.

As of Wednesday, the resort had received 565 inches — 47 feet of snow.

Hemphill said if snow keeps falling – there’s a storm predicted for this weekend – skiers could be hitting the Tahoe slopes until July 4th.

More from Juliette Goodrich
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