Hooray for POW! If you’ve looked outside or tuned into any weather reports lately, then you know what’s up – more than a foot of snow has already dropped at Sierra and there is TONS more heading our way! We’re stoked to see the snow, but there are a lot of strange elements to this storm - including crazy strong winds, centralized precipitation, and high elevation snow levels. You can always rely on your trusty Sierra Snow Reporter to keep it real with you, so I’m bringing you all the honest details on the latest Miracle March storm!
So far this storm has brought in 19 inches of snow. When I came in on Wednesday morning, we had received 5 inches of new snow overnight. To prove that this total was indeed based on real snow, I had a photo shoot that resulted in what I think should be Gatorade’s next advertisement! The freshies we got that night could fill up about ¾ of a 20 oz. Gatorade and Mother Nature was giving out free refills all day long!
This storm came in on Tuesday roaring like a lion, with strong winds and heavy ridge-top gusts reaching 50+ miles per hour. As you all know, Sierra’s runs come directly down the fall line (meaning not much traversing) and the trees surround these trails. With the slopes North-facing, this lines up to allow for less chair exposure compared to other mountains, which means less wind hold. However, when winds start blowing above a certain threshold, we do stop running the chairs for safety reasons. There are many factors that determine chairs going on wind hold, and wind speed is the main factor, but visibility is also considered. Again, with our chairs going directly up fall lines and our trails surrounded by trees, we tend to also have greater visibility than other resorts. We also factor in how sustained the winds are and which direction they come from. If Sierra chairs go on wind hold (as they did this week), that means that the ride up is not safe for skiers/riders, and it is almost guaranteed that all other resorts are on wind hold with the majority of mountains even closed at times.
The winds do bring a certain awesome factor that may not be super obvious right away if you only focus on the downside. First, as the wind gusts around the ridge-tops, it creates stealth powders stashes for powder hounds to seek out. Also, when we’re forced to put chairs on wind hold that means TONS of untouched goods could be waiting for you the next day! For example, when Grandview opened up this morning there was 15” of snow calling my name at the top of Grandview and all the way down Castle!
Mother Nature doesn’t always agree with us, so we respect her wishes and adapt. That doesn’t mean we won’t enjoy it. Let’s face it – with your posse in tow and powder to shred, you’re gonna have a blast! I know these guys were definitely enjoying the snow in West Bowl yesterday!
Thanks to our location on thewestern slope of the Sierra Crest, we typically receive one of the highest natural snowfalls around the lake during storms! This is especially true for this storm system because most of the action coming this weekend is forecasted to drop west of the crest and along the crest while eastern locations will see smaller amounts of snow! Gear up and get pumped for plenty of powder days ahead of us at Sierra!
The most bizarre element to this storm system is the high elevation snow levels and the mixed precipitation. According to NOAA and the Tahoe Weather Discussion, snow levels will remain around 7000-7500 feet today and possible tomorrow. “Stoke level” was on high yesterday at Sierra as our base lodge is sitting right at 7300 feet, catching the brunt of the storm!
Unfortunately, temps got a little too high overnight creating variable mountain conditions with some higher elevation snow along with lower elevation rainfall. This has made for quite a stormy day at Sierra today.
We’re looking forward to tomorrow when a colder storm system should be rollin’ in. Snow elevation levels will drop down to 4000 feet and we could potentially see an estimated 3-5 FEET of fresh powdery deliciousness at Sierra as the storm continues on through Sunday!
Keep working on your snow dances and I’ll see you on the mountain!