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Tahoe Ski Resorts Fire Up Snowmaking Machines

LAKE TAHOE (CBS SF) -- Last weekend's weather system was cold enough to dust the Sierra Nevada Mountains with snow, prompting at least two local ski resorts to start making their own.

Heavenly Mountain Resort and Squaw Valley USA fired up their snow machines after accumulating a couple inches of snowfall Sunday.

Heavenly, which started snowmaking about the same last year, can create enough snow to cover an acre with 3.6 feet of snow in an hour. It's enough to cover 73 percent of runs. In optimum conditions with temperatures below 20 degrees and humidity at 20 percent, Heavenly can make snow on up to ten trails at one time. Only a foot of snow is need to provide good skiing.

But snow isn't necessarily needed for a ski resort to open. Heavenly proved the point by opening on November 23, 1990 with barely any snowfall until mid-December. But by the next season, Heavenly made enough snow to cover the equivalent of 100 miles of highway one foot deep, according to their website.

Heavenly, which also owns Northstar California Resort and Kirkwood Mountain Resort, is slated to open Nov. 21. Squaw Valley is scheduled to open Nov. 26.

More Lake Tahoe Ski Resort  2014/2015 Opening Dates:

  • Alpine Meadows – Nov. 26
  • Mt. Rose Ski Tahoe – Nov. 27
  • Sugar Bowl – December 6


More snow showers are likely Friday after 11 a.m., prompting a winter storm alert. The Lake Tahoe area could see about a foot of snow at 7,000 feet by Friday and Saturday, while the western slopes of the Sierra above 5,000 feet could see between 4 and 8 inches.

Get real-time local forecasts from our KPIX 5 meteorologists by downloading the CBS SF Bay Area weather app for Apple and Android devices.

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