Lack of snow closes small Sierra ski resorts

By Bob Goligoski, Correspondent

Melting snow and warm 50-degree temperatures in the Northern Sierra have forced three smaller ski resorts, and one large cross country ski area, to shut down this week. The four resorts plan to re-open as soon as the next decent-sized snow storm hits.

The alpine resorts – Dodge Ridge, Badger Pass in Yosemite Park and Donner Ski Ranch near Truckee – are all lower elevation resorts with limited or no snow making systems. Tahoe Donner cross country ski area, also on Donner Pass, turned off the lights on December 20.

Skiers returning this week from larger Lake Tahoe area alpine resorts with snow-making systems reported good snow cover at places such as Northstar and Sierra Tahoe with about two-thirds of the runs open.

Sean Waterman, a Dodge Ridge spokesman, said, “We probably could have limped along with some of our learning terrain open. But it’s not quite the experience that we want people to have.”

A spokeswoman for the Tahoe Donnar cross country area said, “We regret to inform you that after doing our best to keep trails open for skiing and snowshoeing, we are closing due to limited snow. When more snowpack allows, the facility will reopen and all programs, clinics and events will resume as scheduled.”

The nordic area is among the largest in the Sierra with 50 plus trails spread over more than 100 kilometers of terrain. The downhill ski area at Tahoe Donner has better snow and remains open.

Forecasters say that the high-pressure system that is blocking storms from reaching the Sierra appears to be weakening and more snow is a possibility for late January and early February.

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