It is SNOWING! A huge storm is pushing through the Sierra Nevada. This kind of weather event is very exciting, but it also requires a ton of work from our teams behind the scenes. Here is an insider look at what is going on around the mountain right now.
The Storm So Far
In the past 24 hours, this storm has dropped over 10 inches on our mountains. We did receive a little bit of rain at the beginning, too, which has caused a serious build-up of ice, especially on upper mountain lifts. We are currently seeing wind gusts over 100 miles per hour, and it is likely that the wind could be here to stay through Tuesday. The good news is that we also expect prolonged periods of heavy snow through Tuesday as well. By tomorrow morning, we could see an additional THREE FEET of snow on the upper mountain.
To stay up-to-date on the storm
- Check our weather blog daily. We’ll also be posting operations blogs like this as often as we can.
- Follow @palisadesops on Twitter for live updates on lift status, parking, and more.
- Use the Palisades Tahoe app for real-time information. You can check lift, trail, and grooming status, as well as see the status of our shuttle and parking lots.
Today’s Storm Impacts
The upper mountain is very frozen after 3 inches of rain followed by several inches of snow last night. Every detachable chair on both mountains has 40 to 80 grips, and each grip has to get banged on 5-30 times by hand to break the ice. This can take quite a while! To put it into perspective, our teams have been working on Shirley and Gold Coast all morning — since 6am. Neither chair had made a full revolution yet as of 1pm due to ice-related spacing issues.
Avalanche hazards will affect our operations throughout the week. It has been snowing at rates of 2-3″ per hour today, and we expect the snow intensity to continue for at least the next 24 hours. For reference, after 1″ per hour, the avalanche hazards are considered to be very high. Our ski patrollers will be prioritizing avalanche control throughout this entire storm cycle.
Our Team’s Efforts
Our operations teams are as eager as anyone to get as much terrain open as quickly as possible. It is important to them and to the rest of us that safety is prioritized as they work. Over the next ten days, they will be working around the clock, many of them starting their mornings at 5am. They show up at the resort to dig out and set up the mountains, after digging out of their own homes first. Please thank them if you see them, and know that they are working very hard to put the lifts, trails, and access roads back together.
“A Full Restart”
When a storm like this moves through Palisades Tahoe, we essentially have to start over. It takes a huge amount of manpower to dig out lifts, build ramps, pull out and then replace ropes, nets, and bamboo, etc. Wind conditions can also cause snowdrifts so big they are difficult to imagine. For example, this morning, Headwall was so buried that grooming machines could not fit under the haul rope. The lift had to be plowed out before groomers could get through!
Key Lift Updates
In general, we will be bumping chairs overnight where possible and maintaining avalanche control routes. Avalanche hazard will be performed daily when our teams are able to safely do so.
- Funitel/Aerial Tram: It is likely that the Funitel and Aerial Tram could be closed for 4-5 days as this cycle pushes through. If we experience a slowdown in wind and can access upper mountain lifts to perform avalanche control, we will run them.
- KT-22: If the access road for KT-22 gets too filled in with snow, we will have to stop running the lift. We are maintaining it as much as possible. Tonight, we will be removing the chairs from the lift line to try to prevent icing, and putting them back on in the morning in an effort to ensure we can run the lift tomorrow.
- Sherwood: We know that many of you are eager for Sherwood to open. We are excited to get back to skiing and riding over there, too. Over the next few days, during the storm, we are adding an extra daytime grooming shift to the Sherwood area. This is unusual; we typically only run swing and grave shifts for grooming, but Sherwood is a priority for us. We will post updates as soon as we feel we can run Sherwood safely. After Sherwood, Lakeview will be our next priority on the Alpine side.
- Granite Chief: Believe it or not, due to extreme wind conditions on the peak, the top of Granite actually has very limited snow right now. We are hoping this storm helps to change that, even with the big gusts of wind we are seeing.
- Headwall: We will not be putting chairs on Headwall until this storm cycle goes through. We did add a fan gun at the base of the lift this season to help with building the ramp when the time comes.
- Terrain Parks: The Belmont park is being pulled out while the snow is falling, but the general path at Belmont will remain the same. Features will be added back once we have clearer weather.
Stay in Know on Lift & Trail Status
AS MENTIONED ABOVE, THE STORM CYCLE WILL LIKELY IMPACT LIFT OPERATIONS. THIS IS WHERE YOU’LL FIND THE BEST INFORMATION ON MOUNTAIN CONDITIONS.
- Download the Palisades Tahoe App for real-time info on weather, lift status and parking.
- Follow the Mountain Ops Twitter for up-to-the-minute updates.
- Check the Palisades Tahoe Snow & Weather report
- Check the Lift & Grooming Status
- Check the Palisades Tahoe Weather Blog (updated daily)
What To Expect This Weekend
A storm of this caliber can have impacts on multiple areas around the resort, not just operations. Here are a few things to keep in mind as we get further into the blizzard.
- Some food & beverage oulets will have altered hours, such as early closures.
- Regional TART buses likely will not be running.
- Highway 80 is currently closed in both directions. Highway 89 is closed at Emerald Bay. Check road conditions before traveling.
The most important takeaway, of course, is that we are getting BURIED in the best way! When the weather clears, the skiing and riding are going to be unforgettable.