California’s Squaw Valley ski area has just completed one of its longest ever ski seasons – with 200 days open (26 more than the average) – and has posted its latest ever closing date, July 15th.
However the July closing still comes as a little of a surprise after the resort suggested it could potentially stay open right through to the start of next winter 17-18 after the huge snowfalls last winter built bases up to the six metre mark in February – the second deepest in the world.
But it seems that as Mother Nature giveth, she also taketh away, and there’s been a rapid thaw due to very warm weather now at Lake Tahoe.
“With unseasonably warm temperatures in the region, the snowpack has seen a rapid rate of melt, primarily in the key areas of lift loading and unloading zones. While teams have been working around the clock to maintain the snow surface, there is not sufficient snowpack for a safe, consistent slope, forcing the resort to conclude operations,” a resort statement announcing the closure states.
Previously the resort had aimed to open on Saturdays for the foreseeable future.
In total 728 inches of snow fell at Squaw Valley last winter, equalling more than 20 metres.
Ten ‘Atmospheric River weather events’ hit the resort, where the average season sees two to four.
January 2017 at Squaw Valley broke the resort’s record for most snow in one month with 282 inches, snowing 23 feet in 23 consecutive days.
“Januburied” was followed by the snowiest February ever with another 196 inches.
“This season was one we will not soon forget,” said Andy Wirth, president and CEO of Squaw Valley Alpine Meadows.
“Mother Nature dealt out her fair share of challenges, with snow totals, wind speeds and overall volatility of weather the likes of which have never been seen in the Sierra Nevada since ski areas have been in operation. The monumental snowpack, however, brought the historic opportunity to operate well into summer. The spring skiing capital evolved into the summer skiing capital, and skiers and riders from across the country were enjoying the sun and snow right up to July 15. Our mountain operations team did a phenomenal job maintaining a fantastic snow surface, and we were able to offer beginner through advanced terrain, and even a large terrain park, right into July.”
Mammoth Mountain, which had the deepest snow base in the world last winter at nearly 9 metres remains open but has also seen a rapid thaw in its base with the very warm weather – there’s now just 15cm at the base and 85cm at the summit with ‘spring conditions’ so it’s not yet clear if it will manage to stay open to August for only the second time in its history and first time for more than 25 years as hoped.
Pictures are from Squaw Valley on 4th July, 2017