Snowstorm brings resort relief to Tahoe area


At last, it's time to dust off the snow plows, the shovels and the blowers.

After weeks of dry, sunny weather, a major storm finally blanketed the Sierra.

Lower elevations got about a foot of snow overnight, while higher places got even more. And more is coming the rest of the week.

Before Wednesday, residents were getting worried about the storm drought.

After a wet December, hardly any snow had fallen since 2011 started.

On Tuesday, the snow was thinning at lake level, forcing some snowmobile operations to shut down.

But now, it's good-bye to that spring-like weather and welcome back to winter.

Skiers and snowboarders came to Tahoe-area resorts in large numbers. The snowstorm that began overnight dumped badly needed fresh powder onto the slopes.

December had brought a lot of snow, but really nothing since then. In fact, many people had forgotten it's still winter, with gorgeous sunny skies and 50-degree weather dominating 2011.

"It's exactly what we needed. It's been about four weeks or so since we've gotten fresh snow," said Livermore snowboarder Maxwell Goeman. "And this is exactly the kind of dump we needed to continue riding throughout the year."

Many had complained that while there was still good snow from the end of last year, the runs had gotten hard and icy. But not anymore.

"It's completely different," said Greg Toomey, a snowboarder from Hawaii. "It's a whole new ballgame today. And as you see, everyone has a smile on their face."

For the mountain resorts, the new snow couldn't have come at a better time. The long President's Day weekend is coming up and could entice more visitors to make the trip.

"With the six weeks we had with very little snow, people had started putting away their skis and bringing out their bikes and their yard tools. This snow really gets them back into a winter frame of mind. So this couldn't have come at a better time," said Russ Pecoraro, director of communications at Heavenly Mountain Resort.

The folks at Sierra at Tahoe ski resort say they've gotten 364 inches of snow so far this season. That's more than they typically get for an entire season.

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