And the hits just keep coming for poor Lake Tahoe. After a dismal winter with unseasonably warm temperatures and not much snow, now one of the bigger and more popular ski areas, Sierra-at-Tahoe, just announced that they will be closing the lifts until they receive more snow. Sierra's normal closing date is usually at the end of April, although the resort did have a March closure in the 1970s. And while General Manager John Rice claims that the temporary closure "isn't goodbye; it's see you soon," the forecast for Tahoe ski areas isn't looking good.
California is in the midst of a four-year drought that doesn't look to end anytime soon. A recent editorial in the Los Angeles Times urges immediate rationing, arguing that California only has about one year of water supply left in its reservoirs.
More on the California Drought:
8 Excuses From the People Using the Most Water in California
Riverside City Councilmember Uses Enough Water For 8 Houses
This is California's Worst Drought Since 800 AD
SoCal Pissing Off NorCal With Wanton Increases in Water Use
Sierra-at-Tahoe isn't the first casualty of the California drought. Homewood Ski Resort has been closed since February 23. Other California ski areas, like Donner Ski Ranch, Badger Pass, Dodge Ridge, Mountain High, China Peak, Soda Springs, Mt. Baldy, Mount Shasta, and Tahoe Donner are all closed. Northstar, like many of the ski areas in the region, is open but only operating 13 of their 20 lifts and only 49% of the skiable acreage is open. Alpine Meadows is still open, but conditions on the mountain are deteriorating rapidly. Mark Fisher at Unofficial Alpine, an expert source for all things related to Alpine Meadows, posted this photo from March 15, with the caption "The lower mountain is not handling 60 degree temps very well."
And while no one wants to see any ski area temporarily close due to lack of snow, Curbed Ski does want to say hats off to the hardworking team at Sierra-at-Tahoe who have done so much this winter with so little. As Dave Amirault, Director of Marketing & Sales tweeted late on March 15, "When you're no longer proud of the product you're selling, it's time to reevaluate and the put the mountain on pause." It's a sad day for skiing in Tahoe, but many ski areas have handled these challenges with grace.
The full announcement from Sierra-at-Tahoe:
It is with a heavy heart we must announce we'll be suspending winter operations beginning tomorrow, Monday, March 16. Conditions around the mountain have deteriorated to the point where we can no longer deliver a product that meets our standard. Although temperatures remain high and the forecast lacks precipitation, we are fully committed to resuming operations if we receive an adequate amount of snow.
We want to sincerely thank our passholders, guests and employees, who continued to bring their best, day in and day out. We are fueled by your smiles, which we had no shortage of, even during these past few days.
After exhausting all possible tools - even with snowmaking at every opportunity and strategic movement of snow, Mother Nature came up short. Our north-facing location paired with our summer grooming techniques allowed us to remain open since December 12 with 1/3 of our average natural snowfall.
Thank you again, for your continued support of Sierra-at-Tahoe. Snow is not our only asset, as we are composed of an outstanding group of individuals who love this sport, this business and this very mountain. Without your trust and involvement, we would not survive. We can't wait to provide a place for you to make more great memories with friends and family.
This isn't goodbye; it's see you soon.
· Sierra-at-Tahoe Current Operations Update [Official Site]
· Tahoe Daily Snow [Open Snow]
· Lack of snow forces Sierra to close [LTN]
· Inside the High-Dollar Fight to Save California Skiing [Curbed Ski]
· Ski Industry Expert Says 31% of Today's Ski Areas Are Dying [Curbed Ski]
· Checking in on the Snowpack After the West's Latest Storms [Curbed Ski]
· NYT Writes Incredibly Depressing Article on California Drought [Curbed Ski]