The ceaseless rain finally turned to snow at Palisades Tahoe early this morning, but not before wreaking some serious havoc on the mountain. We experienced major flooding as our many creeks surged with water. This is one of the largest wet storms we’ve received in nearly two decades. While the water is much-needed, we are up against a series of challenges that will impact our lift operations for Sunday morning. We will be breaking lifts free from rime ice, performing avalanche control, and working to restore power at High Camp and near Ward Peak, while our grooming team will be doing a LOT of repair work on drainages and access roads. The good news is that IT IS SNOWING like crazy out there, and we have more snow in the forecast throughout this week.
By 5am, we had 4 inches of snow at 8,000 feet and the snow levels dropped to our base elevations throughout the morning, much earlier than expected. This means we will get more snow than expected! We could not be more grateful to our crews who have been out there in the elements dealing with fallen trees, flooding, avalanche hazards, and high winds all night last night and all day today. To reiterate what we discussed in yesterday’s blog, while Sunday will be a clear day, it will be a slow start. We were only projected to receive 1-4 inches at the Palisades base area in total, and as we write this at 1pm on Saturday, we have already surpassed that prediction.
You may not know it, but there are several places on our mountains where in the wintertime, you’re skiing right over a creek that is hidden by ice and snow. The rainfall we received over the last 48 hours was significant, and these creeks roared to life, breaking through the snowpack and creating drainage problems across both mountains. Take a look at some of the flooding impacts that our grooming swing shift & graveyard shift at Palisades saw last night, and you’ll see why we have to be very conservative about where we groom in conditions like this. These photos + videos were all taken on the avalanche control route that goes along Sunnyside to the base of Headwall:
We had several members of our Lift Maintenance crews stay overnight to attempt a “night bump,” which is when we spin chairlifts overnight to try to prevent ice buildup. A night bump is not as simple as flipping a switch. There are many factors that go into deciding the viability of a night bump, such as wind and accessibility. Take Wa She Shu, for example. This chair requires an operator in both the top and bottom terminal, and the top terminal is in the path of one of our avalanche control areas. If we cannot ensure the safety of our crew and our infrastructure, we cannot risk doing a night bump.
This morning, the team was back out there assessing chairlifts and breaking off rime ice in cold and snowy conditions. These photos were captured on the Palisades upper mountain by Kyle Crezee, our Director of Lift Operations & Terrain Parks.
We pulled several features out of our terrain parks (mostly steel features) to prepare for this storm. We will start digging out and re-setting Belmont at Palisades tomorrow during the day. Sunday night we will also be getting into Tiegel at Alpine. Both parks are currently projected to open on Monday, weather and conditions permitting.
Photos taken by Kyle Crezee, Director of Lift Operations & Terrain Parks
What To Expect for Sunday
Projected Snowfall Totals By Sunday AM
- 18-24 inches at the base.
- 23-30 inches at the mid-mountain elevations
- 28-35 inches up top (8,000 ft)
Your Visit: Please plan ahead!
- Skies will be sunny by the afternoon, but it will be chilly. Expect temps in the 20s & 30s.
- There are no blackout dates on any passes.
- We will be very frozen and will be slow to open, but it is still a good idea to arrive early. Use the Palisades Tahoe app to check live parking lot status.
- Ice may not be the only impact. With all of this snowfall on wet or icy snowpack, we anticipate that we will need to do a lot of avalanche mitigation. The flooding and damage caused to some of our access roads may also impact terrain or chairlift openings.
- On the upper mountains, we feel confident that we will have some lifts up there, but not all. We have to see what snowfall does tonight. Download the Palisades Tahoe app and enable push notifications so that we can send you Lift + Trail updates, and follow our Mountain Operations Twitter. We post updates as soon as we get them from Dispatch.
- Roads may still be impacted. Even though it will not be actively snowing, there is flooding on some areas of Highway 89 and there will definitely be ice out there. Be safe and review our Parking & Road Conditions page for tips.
- Don’t leave right at 4pm. Try leaving before 3 or after 5 to avoid traffic. There’s lots to do and plenty of places to stay warm in The Village at Palisades Tahoe or in the Alpine Lodge.
- MORE SNOW IS ON THE WAY! This is not your only day to get out there. We have lots of snow in the forecast.
To stay up to date on the storm forecast, we recommend reading our Weather Blog, where Bryan Allegretto of OpenSnow posts his forecast predictions daily during storm cycles. We also encourage you to save our Detailed Weather Data page for real-time information, as we have been experiencing issues with some of our weather sensors. We are currently updating our Snow & Weather page manually between 6am and 4pm.
- Monday – Tuesday: A smaller storm system will move in during the afternoon. By Tuesday morning, we could see 2-5 inches at the base and 3-6 inches on the upper mountain.
- Wednesday -Thursday: A strong storm is going to move in with high winds. Current forecasts are calling for up to 21 inches at the base and up to 37 inches at the top.
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Do you have any requests for this season’s Operations Blogs? Topics you’d like to see covered or information you think is missing? Send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org with your feedback. We have received a lot of messages lately, and we are getting back to you one by one. Thanks for being patient!