TRUCKEE (CBS13) – Lake Tahoe’s attempt to entice the Winter Olympics to return to the Sierra slopes shouldn’t be affected by the season’s slim snowpack, officials said.
Measurements taken by the California Department of Water Resources on Wednesday show that the Sierra Nevada snowpack is barely above one-third of normal, and less than one-quarter in average years statewide, but national weather officials say snowfall was so low across the entire country that January has been ranked as the third least-snowy on record.
Andy Wirth, Olympic committee member and CEO of Squaw Valley and Alpine Meadows resorts, said Tahoe’s meager snowfall doesn’t put the region in any worse position than other prime U.S. candidates. Other ski destinations like Denver are also dealing with a bleak snowpack this year.
“We recognize this has not been an optimal to start to the season,” Wirth said, adding, “I will say we got six feet of snow last week.”
At Lake Tahoe’s last and only Olympic showing in 1960, there was little snow on the ground until four feet came down the night before the opening ceremonies. In the 2010 Games in Vancouver, the competition brought in up to $800 million for the region and $2.5 billion to British Columbia’s gross domestic product despite the embarrassingly weak snow showing.
A triumphant return to Tahoe would bring millions in federal funding for transportation and infrastructure improvements, which local officials say could be used on energy efficient trains, buses and ferries to move the masses of spectators.
“There’s truly a lot of excitement about the possibility,” Wirth said.