Up to 18 inches of wet, heavy snow fell along the Sierra’s eastern front on Tuesday, closing schools in Reno and Sparks and triggering power outages for tens of thousands of Northern Nevadans.
Several inches of snow fell in Carson City, Virginia City, Gardnerville, Fernley and Fallon.
Sunny skies melted most of the snow on city streets around Reno, where more than 36,000 customers saw power outages for several hours and about 16,000 still had no power by mid-afternoon, NV Energy spokeswoman Faye Anderson said.
The outages were caused by trees falling on power lines and snow accumulating on others, mostly in the Reno-Sparks area, she said.
Snow began falling Monday, with totals varying widely across the region, from 18 inches north of Reno and Stead, to 10 inches in Spanish Springs north of Sparks, and 7 inches at Incline Village on Lake Tahoe’s north shore, the National Weather Service said.
It was one of the highest single-storm total snowfalls the area has seen in years, the service said.
A foot of new snow was reported at Mount Rose Ski Resort, which opened for the season last week on the southwest edge of Reno.
“That one-and-a-half foot amount, that’s very unusual for us,” National Weather Service meteorologist Jon Mittelstadt said. “We’ve had four years of drought, and most of the storms we’ve had were warm.”
Squaw Valley and Alpine Meadows have become the latest Tahoe-area ski resorts to declare plans to open earlier than expected for the 2015-16 season.
“With almost two feet of snow over the last week, including six inches of snow today on the summits of Squaw Valley Alpine Meadows, and even more in the forecast, both resorts plan to open ahead of schedule, weather and conditions permitting,” the resorts announced in a Monday evening news release. “Optimal snowmaking temperatures and around the clock commitment from the Squaw Valley Alpine Meadows snowmaking team have made early opening a reality.”
Alpine Meadows will open on Thursday, Nov. 12 at 9 a.m., a month ahead of its originally scheduled opening date of Dec. 11.
Squaw Valley plans to open Saturday, Nov. 14, which is 11 days ahead of its original opening date of Nov. 25, and is going to operate Gold Coast Express and offer limited dining at Gold Coast Complex.
Heavenly Mountain Resort’s ski season will also kick off six days earlier than initially planned, along with Northstar on the North Shore. Both Lake Tahoe ski areas will open Saturday.
“We’ve already received about three feet of snow overall this season, which — combined with around-the-clock operation from the West Coast’s two largest snowmaking systems — has created a great early-season base and the best snow surface conditions at Lake Tahoe,” said Pete Sonntag, Tahoe region vice president and chief operating officer, in a news release.
According to Vail Resorts, it’s the earliest the resorts have opened since 2012, and the first time opening six days ahead of schedule since at least 2009.
“We’ve been making snow for the past two weeks or so,” Cassandra Walker, Heavenly and Northstar’s spokeswoman, said on Tuesday. “The early snow has cooled down the ground, which is a huge help to our snowmaking teams; at this point we are able to make snow [continuously], building a healthy base for Mother Nature’s added new snow. I just got off of the mountain and I’m blown away — there’s so much snow, it’s really beautiful. We see even a foot of fresh snow accumulation in the trees.”
Dawn Johnson, another meteorologist with Reno’s National Weather Service said another storm system is predicted to hit lakewide Sunday and Monday.