The second snow survey of the season has found the water content of California’s snowpack below average after a mostly dry January.
Surveyors for the state Department of Water Resources doing manual and electronic readings found the statewide snowpack at 93 percent of average for the end of January. That is 55 percent of normal fo rthe entire season — measured through April 1 when the snowpack is typically around its peak.
The early season storms did erase most of the deficit in California’s reservoirs, so they are well situated to handle some shortfall in the water delivered by the snowpack. But water managers are still hoping for a return to normal precipitation in February.
Although the monthly survey at Phillips Station on Echo Summit showed the water content at just 67 percent of normal (and a snow depth of 37 inches), electronic readings indicated that overall, water content in the northern Sierra is 97 percent of normal for the date. Electronic readings for the central Sierra show 90 percent of normal and numbers for the southern Sierra are 91 percent of average.
Snow surveyors for the state reported that water content in California’s mountain snowpack
is well above average for the first week of January.
Manual and electronic readings taken Jan. 2 recorded the snowpack’s statewide water content at 134 percent of
average for this time of year. That’s 49 percent of the average April 1 measurement, when the snowpack
is normally at its peak before the spring melt.
Results of the manual readings by the Department of Water Resources off Highway 50 near
Echo Summit at Phillips Station found 48.6 inches of snow, 12.1 inches of water content — 101 percent of the long term average.
Electronic readings indicate that the water content in the northern mountains is 133 percent of normal
for the date and 50 percent of the April 1 seasonal average. Electronic readings for the central Sierra
also show 133 percent of normal for the date and half the April 1 average. The numbers for the southern
Sierra are 131 percent.
Royal Gorge, the nation’s largest cross-country ski area, has been purchased by conservation groups to be preserved and protected from development.
The Trust for Public Land and the Truckee Donner Land Trust, working as part of the Northern Sierra Partnership, raised $11.25 million in private and public money, meeting a Dec. 20 deadline to purchase the 3000-acre property on Donner Summit. More than 1,000 people donated to the five-month-long campaign, the groups said.
The David and Lucile Packard Foundation will provide bridge funding to cover for the expected public funds until those funds are available over the next two years. Overall, the three groups are trying to raise $15.5 million, which will include future improvements on the property.
“Saving Royal Gorge is a great example of our goal of protecting land for people,” said Will Rogers, President of The Trust for Public Land, in a statement. “Families have been coming to Royal Gorge for many years and now those families can be assured that this wonderful place will still be there for future generations to enjoy.”
Local residents at Serene Lakes and Sugar Bowl, both near Royal Gorge, provided most of the private money. The Nature Conservancy, as well as Sierra Watch, also helped raise funds for the campaign.
The financially troubled Ritz Carlton hotel and residences at Northstar has new owners, an investment firm from Beverly Hills. Here’s a story from the Sierra Sun.
The Truckee Donner Land Trust and Trust for Public Lands have closed a deal to buy and conserve 3,000 acres at the headwaters of the Little Truckee River north of Truckee. The purchase includes Webber Lake, Lacey Meadows and the historic Webber Lake Hotel. Details in this story from the SF Chronicle.
Oct. 4 2012
An already weak El Nino forecast for this winter got a little bit weaker after September’s ocean temperature readings and other data were analyzed by the US Climate Prediction Center. The Center’s latest forecast noted that sea surface temperatures cooled a bit in September but still remained barely above normal. The same trend was true in the upper 300 meters of the ocean. These temperatures would normally be rising if we were headed into an El Nino event, but instead they grew cooler in September. The only sign of movement toward El Nino conditions was the presence of low-level westerly wind anomalies over the western Pacific, but upper-level and lower-level winds across much of the Pacific remained near average. And while tropical convection increased over the International Date Line, which could be a sign of a coming El Nino, it also remained elevated over eastern Indonesia, which is farther west than expected. So overall, a very mixed bag and, at least for this month, a suggestion that the chances for an El Nino event have grown weaker.
Sugar Bowl just announced that it has signed an agreement to operate Royal Gorge. Here is the resort’s statement:
DONNER SUMMIT, CALIF. — Sugar Bowl Resort has signed an agreement to operate Royal Gorge Cross Country Resort, America’s largest cross-country operation, which is being purchased by the Truckee Donner Land Trust, the Trust for Public Land and the Northern Sierra Partnership.
The Sugar Bowl Resort operating agreement was inked on Monday, Oct. 1, and includes the 3,000 acres the conservation groups have agreed to purchase. The Truckee Donner Land Trust, the Trust for Public Land and the Northern Sierra Partnership put down a $500,000 non-refundable deposit on the property on Oct. 1, and plan to complete the $11.25 million purchase on Dec. 20, 2012. The previous owners of Royal Gorge defaulted on their loan on the property, and Royal Gorge was taken over by the lender last summer.
The agreement unites two of North Tahoe’s premiere ski resorts. Sugar Bowl Resort, founded in 1939, is a 1,500-acre downhill ski resort with four peaks, 13 lifts and North Tahoe’s deepest annual snowpack. Royal Gorge is America’s largest cross-country ski resort. Its 200 kilometers of trails and approximately 6,000 acres of terrain stretch from the open expanse of Van Norden Meadows to the foot of majestic Devil’s Peak. The Summit Station lodge is the center of the cross-country resort and eight warming huts dot the expansive eight track trail system. Sugar Bowl has trail leases with Donner Summit landowners, which will ensure the entire 6,000 acres of cross-country ski will be open for skiing this winter.
Sugar Bowl Resort and Royal Gorge are already connected by an “interconnect trail” that allows skiers to ski back and forth between the Donner Summit resorts, and plans are in the works to further enhance the connection with two additional beginner-friendly routes. Sugar Bowl is now offering a season pass that allows holders to downhill ski at Sugar Bowl and cross-country ski at Royal Gorge for one affordable rate. Sugar Bowl passholders can add on an unrestricted Royal Gorge pass for $149 (adult price), and can purchase an unrestricted, standalone Royal Gorge pass for $299.
Sugar Bowl plans to invest $500,000 into Royal Gorge this season, including upgrades and renovations to Summit Station, the purchase of two new grooming machines, enhanced wayfinding signage, a new website with comprehensive daily grooming report and more. Sugar Bowl is committed to making Royal Gorge, again, the preeminent cross country resort in North America. It will also bring a tradition of exceptional customer service to the resort. Sugar Bowl Resort was one of three ski resorts across the nation awarded “Best Overall Guest Service Program” by the National Ski Area Association in 2010.
“Royal Gorge has incredible potential, and we’re excited about the opportunity to return such an iconic resort to its once and former glory”, said Sugar Bowl CEO Rob Kautz. “It’s a perfect complement to the authentic alpine adventure brand that we’ve built here at Sugar Bowl, and we’re committed to investing in Royal Gorge as a world-class destination for years to come.”
Royal Gorge is known for its easy access, consistent snow conditions and expansive trail system. The resort’s high-elevation base area (much of the resort sits above 7,000 feet), ensures reliable, high-quality snow conditions. And its location, significantly closer to San Francisco and Sacramento than other North Tahoe resorts, make it a popular day and overnight ski destination. www.royalgorge.com
LA NINA UPDATE Oct 2011
A weak La Nina condition remains in place across the Central Pacific in early Fall, with sea surface temperatures in the region at least .5 degrees below normal. The condition is expected to strengthen a bit as we head from fall into winter, but remain weaker than last season’s La Nina. A La Nina condition, even a weak one, is expected to mean a colder and wetter winter in the Pacific Northwest and a drier season in the Southwest. Sitting between these two, Tahoe is dependent on the whims of each storm and how far the jet stream dips south. Last season, of course, we got nearly every storm that came off the Pacific. One thing that should be true is that we are less likely to see the kind of big, warm, wet storm that comes off the Southern Pacific. The storms we do get will tend to be smaller, and colder, but they can add up, and they can bump up against each other to produce plenty of powder.