San Francisco Bay Area rain means happy skiers at Lake Tahoe resorts

By Peter Delevett
San Jose Mercury News

Tahoe, tallyho!

The clammy Christmastime weather may be no fun in the San Francisco Bay Area, but it’s a boon for Lake Tahoe ski resorts that a year ago were suffering through a dry, nonwhite season.

Since Friday, more than seven feet of snow have fallen on the Sierra. And people from here and elsewhere have been flocking to the slopes.

Snowboarders enjoy the snow at Sugar Bowl Ski Resort. (Patrick Tehan/San Jose Mercury News photo)

“We expect to have a great holiday season,” said Paul Raymore, spokesman for Homewood Mountain Ski Resort on the lake’s western shore. “Conditions at all the resorts are pretty much all-time.”

Raymore said Homewood is already seeing brisk season-ticket sales, and his counterpart at Squaw Valley said lodging at her resort is virtually sold out through Jan. 4. “Our phones are ringing off the hook,” said Jenny Kendrick, who also represents Alpine Meadows.

Kendrick called it the second-snowiest Christmas for her resorts since 1970.

Tony Lyle, director of tourism for the Lake Tahoe Visitors Authority in South Lake Tahoe, said the prolific precipitation is a welcome contrast to last season, when some local merchants hung signs reading, “Pray for Snow.”

“The topic of conversation is about how snow is so good for the economy,” Lyle said. “Restaurants, retail, shopping, it’s going to have that domino effect on everyone.”

And there’s more snow to come, according to the National Weather Service.

Scott McGuire, a weather service forecaster in Reno, said that after a break Thursday, another front will head to the resort area late Friday night. Though McGuire said it won’t carry as much precipitation as a two-day system that blanketed Tahoe on Christmas, or the even more bountiful snows that began last Friday, he said yet another storm system is predicted for the area just after New Year’s Day.

One weather spotter on Tahoe’s western shore told McGuire he’d measured 71 inches of snow on the ground at lake level. “It’s certainly impressive snowfall,” McGuire said.

Meanwhile, Steve Anderson, a weather service forecaster in Monterey, said the Bay Area should brace for more rain. The 3.69 inches San Jose has received this month made for the wettest December since 2005, he said. Oakland, meanwhile, has seen 5.59 inches this month.

While the end of the week won’t be as soggy as the past few days, Anderson said the Bay Area could get up to another inch of rain Friday through Saturday.

With all the wet weather, the California Highway Patrol cautions safe driving.

“The primary thing you have to do is increase that distance between you and the vehicles in front of you,” said Sgt. Diana McDermott. A single car length just isn’t enough space to react and stop, she said.

Kendrick, the Squaw Valley spokeswoman, drove from the Bay Area to Tahoe early Wednesday morning and reported that the roads were clear of snow. She predicted traffic will pick up as the weekend approaches.

And with the mountains having essentially put down a solid primer coat thanks to the recent storms, Kendrick and others expect the stream of skiers and snowboarders to be steady all winter long.

“The rest of the season is going to be great, because you’ve got the base to build on for the rest of the season,” said Homewood’s Raymore. “We didn’t have that last year.”

Contact Peter Delevett at 408-271-3638, and follow him at

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