With the winds beginning to pick up and a “parade” of storms on the horizon, we’re expecting a very dynamic weather week through the New Year. There is a good chance our upper mountain lifts will be impacted for multiple days, and some of our outdoor events or activities may be canceled or relocated. While the immediate aftermath of this enormous storm series will present some challenges, California NEEDS this moisture and our snowpack will be in great shape as we enter the New Year.
Photo above taken by Palisades groomer Nick McMahon on Saturday, December 24th.
The Weather Forecast
Over the next 10 days, we will be in a stormy pattern. Tonight (Monday night), Tuesday night, and New Year’s Eve are standing out as potentially big storm days. There are some breaks between each band of the storm, but these are unlikely to be long breaks. In total, we are expecting to see 17 inches of much-needed water in this cycle. (Note: That’s the moisture total, NOT the snow total. Some snow total predictions are below.) Our snowpack is in a pretty good place to handle a wet storm like this one that is coming in.
The best way to stay up-to-date on what to expect for weather is to read our Weather Blog, which we post almost daily. It is written by local weather forecaster Bryan Allegretto of OpenSnow. Buckle up — This is going to be a big one! Here’s what Bryan is predicting for this week.
- Monday night to Wednesday morning:
- 4-11 inches at the base & lower mountain
- 11-21 inches at mid-mountain
- 21-27 inches on the upper mountain
- The snow levels are a bit all over the place. This storm will likely start as rain and then get colder as time goes on.
- 6-10 inches on the mountain.
- Friday to Sunday (Saturday is New Year’s Eve):
- 4-18 inches at the base & lower mountain
- 18-24 inches at mid-mountain
- 24-52 inches on the upper mountain
How We’re Preparing
With strong winds of up to 130 miles per hour anticipated for tomorrow (Tuesday, December 27th), we will be bumping (or spinning) some of our chairlifts overnight, such as KT-22 and Resort Chair. (Not all chairs CAN be bumped overnight). We have actually removed the chairs from the line on Headwall due to these gusts we’re going to see tomorrow. We’ll also take the cabins off of the Funitel during storms like this.
This storm is going to come in wet, so we are anticipating that we will see a lot of rime ice built up on our chairlifts. The night bump can help with this, but lift lines can still freeze and require our Lift Maintenance crews to manually chip the ice off to break them free. Ice will not just be an issue on the upper mountain, though its effects are often more pronounced there. We expect to see rime ice on our base area chairlifts as well.
Our grooming crew will be working around the clock as always. They will focus on maintaining access roads and the on/off ramps at chairlifts. While a lot of our grooming happens at night, during storm cycles the team works continuously, even during the day, to keep us from getting buried as best they can.
What To Expect
Tomorrow (Tuesday, December 27th) winds are expected to reach up to 130 miles per hour, if not more, on our upper mountains. We expect all upper mountain lifts at Palisades to be on hold due to anticipated weather impacts. Ridgeline lifts at Alpine such as Summit are likely to be impacted as well. With gusts this strong, even base area and lower mountain lifts can experience closures. The best way to stay up-to-date with real-time lift and trail information is to follow the Palisades Tahoe Mountain Operations Twitter account and download the Palisades Tahoe App.
Some other quick updates:
- As a reminder, Olympic Lady cannot run safely during large wind events.
- Belmont Park was built on raised pads so that we hopefully don’t have to pull it out during this cycle. The park is looking great up there right now.
- Alpine Bowl Chair is on indefinite mechanical hold. We are sourcing a very specific part that has not arrived yet. While we know this is disappointing, please know that the terrain itself is still accessible. 100% of terrain at Alpine has been open for a little more than a week and we will get back to that as quickly as we can after this storm cycle.
As we mentioned previously, this storm is going to start wet. The elevation predictions for snow levels are varied by source, so we can’t say with certainty when the rain will change to snow. What we can say is that we expect this snow to be heavy and wet, and it will likely be a bit sticky through this first cycle.
With all this dynamic weather, we may see impacts to New Year’s Eve festivities and other activities such as Disco Tubing, Sunset Happy Hour, Snowshoe Tour + Chalet Dinners, Ski with Jonny Moseley, etc. We have already pre-emptively canceled a few. That said, we will have some great indoor offerings going on this week if you’re looking to celebrate or warm up, including an Apres Ski with Legends, Retro Apres Ski Party, and Skate for Scotty New Year’s Eve Fundraiser Party.
The Base to Base Gondola
The Base to Base Gondola reopened today (Monday, December 26th) operating as two separate lifts, rather than one continuous lift. This means the Gondola still took guests between The Village at Palisades and the Alpine Lodge, but there was a brief unload/reload at the KT-22 mid-station. It will be closed for the day on Tuesday, December 27th for some further work on the interconnect software and when it reopens it should be operating as one continuous lift. Please note that we are expecting some very high wind days this week, and the Base to Base Gondola may experience some impacts. If the Base to Base Gondola is not running, we will have a shuttle running between the base areas.
Comm line installation is supposed to continue on Red Dog this week, but we expect that the weather will delay this work. The best place to get updates on Red Dog is our construction blog, which we update every Thursday (or sometimes more often). As of right now, the tentative plan is to open Red Dog in early January. Weather can always change our plans.
Accessing Resort Chair from The Village at Palisades Tahoe requires a short shuttle ride to the base of the chair. Shuttles leave from The Village shuttle stop (across from Coffeebar) as often as we can run them. You can also use the free Mountaineer shuttle service to get to this chair. From the top of Resort Chair, you do have the ability to ski back to The Village at Palisades Tahoe.
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