Although there is still some snow left in The Chutes, the walk out is getting longer and longer driving most skiers up to Lassen (Lassen Road is open) and Shasta understandably.
In other news, a month or more ahead of schedule, the Aspens are leafing out and Cinqfoil and other June wildflowers are making an early appearance in what will surely be a long hot dry summer. Will fire season be bad? All indications are affirmative but it all comes down to the vagaries of the lit cigarette butt thrown out the window, the campfire that gets away, dry lightning strikes etc etc. Although certainly tinderbox conditions will be ripe for large, difficult to control burns, actual fires will depend on weather and human stupidity (always in great abundance) for ignition.
To indicate where we are at with this years end of season totals, below you will find the data for the Lake Lucille Snow Course in the Tahoe basin for nearly a hundred years. As you can see, 2015 represents the lowest snow total for the last century. As this comes on the heels of three extremely dry years, we are now entering new territory weather wise as the dry and warm winter anomaly continues to worsen. The State of California has just issued its first-ever mandatory state wide water restrictions as many of its’ reservoirs are at historic lows and wells continue to go dry in the states Central Valley. In addition, an emergency salt water barrier is being set up in an attempt to keep salt water from being shipped down to SoCal from the Central Valley since the low river flows are allowing saline water to work its way into the aqueduct system that serves SoCal.
What does all this mean for skiers and Mt. Rose? Well, it all depends on what happens in the years to come of course as historically we have had long periods of both wet and dry years. However, according to climate scientists, we will be heading toward warmer and drier conditions in Tahoe in the long run and this is not good news for our bases… (ski areas and our actual edges and bases unfortunately)
Although El Nino looks to be on possibly a historic meteoric rise at the moment, we all remember what happened last summer as we were told of El Nino’s rise, only to find it all fizzle in the late summer and fall. Conditions are remarkably different than last year however… To hear more about the potential for El Nino to affect us next season, this please visit our friend Daniel Swain at Weather West for an article he posted yesterday at: http://www.weatherwest.com/archives/3124
So where are we? Well, Washoe Lake residents living on the East side are experiencing alkali dust storms when the SW wind whips over the dry lake, Bark Beatles and other insects are having a hay day in our forests due to extremely dry conditions, large white firs and other large conifers are stressed due to the multiyear lack of water and die offs are imminent and wildfires may ravage those of us living in the Sierra’s this coming summer so… well, to put it bluntly, things could be better.
On the positive side, Mt. Rose is taking steps to remedy the meager snow provided by Ma Nature the last four years by installing more stationary snow making equipment towers on the mountain to provide better coverage and has already been hauling pipe up for the project. There is also an unverified rumor that Pondo will be realigned this summer to unload skiers North of its present location nearer to the upper parking lots on the top of the ridge in order to provide better access to the planned Atoma extension across the highway. I will update when I get more info on this project. If this does happen, it will take beginners away from the face runs, which will improve skiing for everyone, especially in the long run when beginnings skiers will be drawn to the new beginning runs across the highway. It will also mark a commitment on Mt. Rose’s part to really make Atoma and the connection with the Sky Tavern lift system happen in the near future.
Well, thats all the news for now. Wish I could say we will enjoy a wonderful spring, but the spring weather has been about as much fun as our winter was it seems. The Gulf of Alaska storm cycles finally kicked in… too bad it was in late April just in time to bring us windy and wet spring weather… but always better than nothing I guess and we could use whatever water we can manage squeeze out of these late season systems before the heat of summer kicks in. On the positive side… Tahoe beaches are as wide and sandy as they have been for along time and kayaking will be fantastic this summer as many of the motor boat ramps are closed…