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Snow making saving the season right now for Lake Tahoe ski resorts

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Due to a lack of natural snow thus far, snow making has been relied on
more than usual by Lake Tahoe’s 14 ski resorts, which were all open by
the middle of December.

One might say that snow-making is saving the Lake Tahoe ski industry right now.

The snow making, combined with mostly cold temperatures in December,
salvaged what could have been a horrible holiday season for Lake Tahoe
ski resorts. The Christmas holidays are typically the busiest time of
year for Tahoe resorts.

The Lake Tahoe basin’s snowpack is only 37 percent of average for the
date, according to the Reno Gazette-Journal.

Dry conditions were matched with cold temperatures, allowing the Lake
Tahoe ski resorts to use snow making equipment to open substantial
terrain for the busy holiday period.

“We had some real strong windows that allowed us to make a ton of
snow,” said Mike Pierce, marketing director at Mount Rose ski
resort said in the Gazette-Journal story. “Yes, we’d love to have more
snow, but we do have what people are looking for right now.”

Heavenly Mountain and Northstar California, both owned by Vail
Resorts, possess the two largest snow-making systems in the West,
according to company spokesman Russ Pecoraro.

At Heavenly, Pecoraro said snow guns can cover 73 percent of the
resort with man-made snow. On Christmas, Heavenly had 19 lifts
operating in both Nevada and California, accessing more than 13 miles
of skiable terrain.

“Snow making is what makes the difference,” Pecoraro said.

Squaw Valley and Alpine Meadows, which combined operations in 2011 to
form the largest ski resort in the country in terms of skiable acres,
also understand the impact of snow making.

The two resorts have made $70 million worth of mountain upgrades and
have made a commitment to expand snow-making capabilities, spending
$5.2 million since 2012.

“It’s a major priority to ensure we can deliver a positive guest
experience,” Alpine and Squaw spokeswoman Amelia Richmond said. “The
snow-making is critical. It’s really our insurance policy.”