LAKE TAHOE (AP) — The latest in a string of powerful storms is dropping heavy snow and causing school closures and traffic delays Friday in the Lake Tahoe-Reno area.
The Alpine Meadows ski resort just north of Tahoe reports receiving up to 4 feet of snow over a 24-hour period ending Friday morning for a total of as much as 9 feet of snow since the storms began on Monday. Other Sierra resorts are reporting 4 to 7 feet of new snow this week.
Resort operators welcomed the mountain of snow ahead of the holiday weekend, which is usually one of their most lucrative periods of the season.
“All this snow has people thinking about skiing and snowboarding again after a dry January,” said Jon Slaughter, spokesman for the Boreal resort atop Donner Summit. “Mother Nature set us up for a big weekend. She brought the light, dry powder that Utah usually brags about.”
Snow was falling at a rate of about 1 inch per hour at the Kirkwood resort south of Tahoe, said spokeswoman Prudence Wiesener.
It was slow going on Interstate 80 Friday morning where motorists told CBS13 they had to drive 10-miles-per-hour. Most side roads remained unplowed as Caltrans drivers focused on keeping I-80 clear.
National Weather Service forecaster Shane Snyder said the snow was not expected to taper off in the region until Saturday morning. Another storm was expected late next week in the Sierra.
This week’s storms were a major boost to the Sierra snowpack, which creates runoff that provides much of the water for homes, businesses and farms in California and Nevada, Snyder said.
“It was good timing to get the snowpack more above average,” he said.
The recent storms have pushed water content in the Tahoe basin’s snowpack to over 130 percent of average for the date. That figure for Tahoe had been more than 200 percent of normal for the date after an unusually snowy December and November, but had dropped after a dry January.
(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)