The Storm: Day 5
#DEEPcember has truly shown up. Last night brought an additional 18 inches of snow to our upper mountains, making the 24-hour total close to 3 feet. We have now broken our previous record of 179 inches of snowfall in December 1970 by 9 inches. That’s right. This is our biggest December storm in 50 years. We are certainly seeing the impacts of such a huge amount of snow both at our resort and in the greater Lake Tahoe community.
Roads Closures & Conditions
Around 4:30 this morning, patrollers were making their way into work at both mountains when a natural slide occurred at River Ranch, going across Highway 89 near the entrance of Alpine Meadows Road. A second slide occurred not long after near the Fir Crags bridge. This slide also crossed the highway. The road was quickly closed, leaving some patrollers and employees caught in the traffic that ensued. Our Patrol and Snow Removal staff who had made it into Alpine already were diverted down to the entrance, and we put all of our resources into assisting with reopening.
A third natural slide then occurred across Alpine Meadows Road, also resulting in a closure. As of 2pm, all of our teams were still down assisting with snow removal from the slides. All three of these slides occurred outside of resort boundaries, but these roads are major points of access for our mountains.
As a result of these slides, employees who live lakeside were unable to get into work, and Highway 89 shut down in both directions. This is an extremely rare occurrence and is indicative of just how serious this storm has been. Additionally, Highway 80 remains closed in both directions at the time of publication. Expect this closure to last for a while as there were over 50 downed trees reported on the freeway earlier today.
We still strongly advise against any travel at this time. To check road conditions, your two best resources are the CalTrans Quick Map Mobile App and the CHP-Truckee Facebook Page. Nevada also has a Road Conditions Mobile App. Gas stations in Kings Beach, Tahoe City, and Incline Village are entirely out or very low on gasoline. Please do not refuel your vehicle at this time as these reserves need to be saved for commercial vehicles such as snowplows.
Daily Update: Alpine
Today, due to the extreme avalanche conditions, our restrictions were at the highest level. On days like this, no personnel can even go outside unless they have full avalanche gear – a probe, a shovel, a beacon, and a radio. Even then, there are extremely strict paths one must follow. Essentially, the resort was on lockdown throughout the day. There was no free movement around the mountain whatsoever. In fact, we weren’t even allowing employees to shovel off the deck of the Alpine Lodge. Additionally, we bermed up entrances to the Alpine parking lot to prevent public access, as the whole base area of Alpine is a slide zone.
A large majority of our resources for Alpine were diverted to clearing avalanche debris this morning, and we will have some work to do to set up for tomorrow. A number of employees were also not able to make it to work today due to road closures.
Daily Update: Palisades
With the intensity of this storm, we basically lost every road and every piece of hill safety that we had previously established. We are working as hard as we can to reestablish roads and preserve our previous work where we can.
This morning, we put 12 Patrol teams out on KT, Red Dog, and Broken Arrow. Broken Arrow was finished around 11am, which allowed Grooming to begin making their way up the hill with the Lift Maintenance crew. As of 1pm, we had not accessed the upper mountain yet, but the plan up there is to start with the core lifts of Gold Coast, Big Blue, Shirley, Mountain Meadow, Bailey’s Beach, and Siberia. We will be turning those lifts on, breaking any ice, and making sure they are running correctly.
What To Expect Tomorrow
Expect DELAYS tomorrow due to Patrol performing snow safety. We will open as much as we are able to in a safe manner. See below for full details.
- Expect Roundhouse, Treeline Cirque, Yellow, Meadow, and Subway to open tomorrow. Operations are likely to be delayed.
- All lift shacks and terminals need to be dug out before we can open. We expect that our operators will arrive early and make good progress, but that assumes all roads are open. We have a number of employees who live in the Reno and Carson City areas, so Highway 80, Highway 50, and other access roads need to open as well.
- Expect the lower mountain lifts of Red Dog, Far East, Resort Chair, and First Ventures to open close to 9am tomorrow. Red Dog did have a mechanical issue today, but we believe it will be resolved by morning.
- KT-22 is expected to open, but it will likely be more delayed than the lifts listed above. As mentioned in a previous operations blog, we lost the Saddle access road and have to reestablish it.
- Near Tower 4 of the Funitel, there is limited clearance for cabins to pass through. After snow safety has been performed, we will be sending a winch cat to clear the snow out. Then we can start running the Funitel at a low capacity for our teams. IF the Funitel opens tomorrow, it will be for Mountain Run only.
- Gold Coast, Shirley, Siberia, Bailey’s Beach, Mountain Meadow, and Big Blue will be the priority for upper mountain. These are not expected to open tomorrow.
- The chances are not high, but if we can do it, we will run Broken Arrow tomorrow.
- The Aerial Tram will not run tomorrow.
- Wa She Shu is still to be determind. We have not run Wa She Shu since it rained, and the lift is in the path of slide activity for Headwall. We will be firing at Headwall if we get the chance, which could restrict Wa She Shu depending on the level of avalanche activity we see.
- Silverado likely will have enough snow to begin building the road there after this week. We will prioritize opening Granite Chief, Headwall, Emigrant, and Solitude before moving on to Silverado.
Stay Up-To-Date on Lift Status & Mountain Information
- Visit our Lift & Trail Page to see what is scheduled, what is open, and lift line wait times.
- 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.
Our Team’s Efforts
Many of our employees were able to get to the mountain early, as they usually do, before the roads closed, braving extreme conditions and howling winds. Our grooming team also worked an extended shift, from midnight to after 1pm, maintaining access roads wherever possible. We owe them a huge thanks for their dedication.
For a lot of our employees, this is day 5 of shoveling out for hours and hours each day. As we talked about on the first morning of this storm cycle, they shovel their own cars and driveways before coming to dig out the mountain. It is tiring work, but we are moving as quickly as we can. We ask for your patience and understanding, and we hope that these updates are informative and useful in answering your questions.