“Wet” Powder this morning

Woke up at 5:00 am to rain falling on a tin roof… however, far from the romantic notions of Nora Jones, it irritatingly reminded me that, once more, the storm had come in warmer than forecast. Went to the window looking for crystals in the mix… no such thing. It was 40 and raining once again at 7600 feet in midwinter.

This brings our rain total this season so far way into the double digits, similar to last year, but without the snow to soften the wet blow. Does this just mean another ski day lost or is there something more?

For nearly 25 years now I have been carefully watching the snow totals up here at Sky Tavern and today is just part of a very disturbing trend of a snow line that continues to move uphill. A friend who was a park ranger in the Galena Park stone cabin years ago told me that our weather at Sky is what Galena used to get 35 years ago. We live in a place where twenty years ago we went years without seeing any rain, all our precipitation falling as snow. The Desert Research Institute corroborates my findings by stating that the snow line has moved up the mountain a thousand feet on average in the Sierra’s just in the last decade. This is not just a recent trend. The V & T Railroad used to face 6′ of snow in Washoe Valley and avalanches in the tracks big enough to stop freight trains on the way to Virginia City. Although my personal experience of weather in these mountains is short and weather typically take millennia when making changes… I think every skier and rider can agree that all this rain  is unsettling and uncomfortable to say the least.

And we think its bad here at 8200′. Imagine the situation Northstar (recently renamed Mudstar) or even Squallywood is in as well as the other “low base” resorts around the lake. Unless they are planning on running Mountain Bikes in the winter… this trend is even more disturbing from a commercial point of view and you better believe they are talking about it in the board room. Thus Rose’s new tagline… “Where the Snow is.” Although today even Rose is receiving rain on the lower mountain… or “wet powder” as the ski area lexicon goes.

My guess is that we might have 10 to 15 feet of white stuff on the ground had we had cold enough temps so far this year but the rain and warmer temps just keep coming. Tonight the snow level will drop and we WILL get snow for tomorrow and we can forget about this inconvenient issue for awhile but like it or not, according to me and about 99% of the scientists out there, the world is warming at an alarming rate and as skiers and riders, we are on the front lines.

None of this will change tomorrow however. There is an almost 100% chance that it will snow and there will be some fresh pow in the morning. And like drunk teenagers “borrowing” their Mom’s convertible, we will have the top down and be hooting and hollering enjoying each moment happily and momentarily oblivious to what may come tomorrow, next season or a decade from now.


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