Visibility was LOW today — Just take a look at the above image. That’s High Camp, believe it or not, at the top of Bailey’s Beach, captured by Palisades Grooming Manager Craig Patterson. Before 6 o clock this morning, wind gusts on our upper mountains had already hit 100 miles per hour. As we write this blog, we have recorded gusts at Alpine of 165 miles per hour. Needless to say: it was windy out there! Before we talk about tomorrow’s expectations, let’s recap what went down at each mountain today.
Recap: December 10th at Palisades
We only saw about an inch of natural snow overnight at Palisades, but we did make snow on the lower mountain. Around 6am, Palisades Mountain Manager Jimmy King let the team know that he believed upper mountain would be a no-go, and he listed KT-22 as questionable. Our lift maintenance team was out there in the elements and between 7 and 8 am, they assessed all lower mountain lifts for viability in the current conditions. By 8:20am, we pulled the Aerial Tram, Bailey’s Beach, Gold Coast, Mountain Meadow, Shirley Lake, Siberia, and Solitude off the schedule for the day. Minutes later, we made the call to pull Wa She Shu and Olympic Lady as well. Just before 9am, we, unfortunately, had to pull KT-22 from the schedule, too. The day’s conditions were just too extreme.
Resort Chair, Exhibition, First Ventures, and the carpets opened at 9am as planned. Roughly 45 minutes later, both Resort Chair and Exhibition were placed on a lightning hold. This is somewhat rare for wintertime and certainly wasn’t expected today. Lightning Holds are required whenever a lightning strike is detected within a 30-mile radius of the resort. There are several factors here, like which direction the cell is moving and how many strikes have occurred. Today there was just one random strike, so we were able to reopen the lifts within 30 minutes. After 2pm, the rate of snowfall increased significantly, so we had to close Resort Chair and Exhibition early at 3pm, followed quickly by any remaining beginner terrain.
Recap: December 10th at Alpine
Overnight, Alpine received just an inch of natural snow, and their overnight snowmaking efforts were focused on Roundhouse. At 7:30am, we placed Summit chair on a wind hold, and by 8am, we made the call to pull it from the schedule entirely. Roundhouse went on wind hold at 7:45am, followed by Yellow at 8am. At 9am, Treeline Cirque, Meadow, and Subway opened as planned. By 11:35am, Treeline Cirque had been placed on a wind hold as well. At 12:20pm, Roundhouse and Yellow were removed from the schedule for the day. Meadow then went on wind hold at 1:30pm, and was removed from the schedule along with Treeline Cirque at 2:15pm. After 3:30, we closed Alpine Meadows Road to perform avalanche mitigation.
OpenSnow is now calling for the potential totals of 55 inches from now until midnight on Sunday. Sunday itself could see between 7 and 13 inches of snow, a slight downgrade from the original 18 or so inches we were expecting. Bryan Allegretto, who writes our Weather Blog, predicted this morning that we’ll have 2-3 feet of snow in the base areas and 3-5 feet of snow on the upper mountains by Monday. It is very snowy out there right now, and the winds are also sure to have an impact: some places will have huge stashes of snow created by wind buffs, while spots like our ridgelines could be stripped from the constant gale.
Photo taken by Kyle Crezee, Director of Lift Operations and Terrain Parks, at the Upper Vehicle Maintenance Shop at Gold Coast.
Our Team’s Efforts Today
We have to dedicate a full block to the work our employees did today. After arriving super early on site (our first snow report from Patrol came in at 4:48am!), our teams braved the elements for hours at a time to keep the resort in shape as best we could. Whether it was breaking ice off of lifts, maintaining groomed access roads in low visibility, clearing parking lots, operating lifts, or shoveling snow in the base areas, there was no easy task today. We hope that you can share in our gratitude for the people out there dedicated to making it happen.
Video captured by @HunterLamer at the top of KT-22 this morning.
What To Expect For Tomorrow
Delays — That’s what to expect tomorrow. This snow is coming in heavily and setting up a great base, but we are going to have our work cut out for us. Snow is expected to intensify overnight. Right now, we have grooming and patrollers out there already. These crews will be staying on-site overnight at several elevations to maintain our offering and get ready to perform snow safety first thing in the morning.
We anticipate that we will be slow to get things open. Winds tomorrow are not forecasted to be quite as high as today, but we could still see large gusts. That said, we don’t anticipate that we will get Summit or the Palisades upper mountain lifts open tomorrow (Wa She Shu on up) if the snow totals truly are what we’re expecting. Monday is the day that these lifts are most likely to re-open.
At Palisades, groomers have been up on KT since 1pm pushing off slides and maintaining the road, and by the time this blog is published, Patrol should be up there doing control work as well. In the morning, before we can get to the upper mountain, we’ll have to clear KT-22 and Tower 16.
At Alpine, grooming crews worked on Sherwood, Lakeview, and Scott throughout the day. Tomorrow morning, we have to complete patrol work before we can send machines up. Additionally, there could be some delays in opening up our parking lots while we perform avalanche control on the Buttress.
Video captured by Shane Oakley, Lift Maintenance, at Gold Coast today.
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