Skiers and riders have been treated this week to a spring-time bonus — new snow.
Temperatures dropped and flurries began at Bear Valley, east of Murphys on Highway 4, Monday afternoon. Customers the next morning were greeted by 13 inches of fresh snow, thanks to the unexpected storm that may extend the season at Bear and other Sierra resorts.
"The snow actually has held pretty well considering all the sunshine lately," Bear spokeswoman Rosie Sundell said. "With the new snow, it all depends on how much or how high."
Dodge Ridge on Highway 108 east of Sonora reported 10 inches, which caused officials to rethink closing plans.
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Forecasts call for a clearing sky into the weekend.
The welcome storms of a month ago were followed by dream-like skiing conditions for about a week. Warm weather followed, however, and resort officials understand their open days are numbered when customers' attention turns away from the slopes. The ice rink at Curry Village at Yosemite National Park closed for the season last week.
Last March, the Sierra benefited from major snowfall. Bear received seven feet in March and nine feet during an incredible April. Dodge and Bear extended their closing days until April 23, the week after Easter.
This year, Bear projects April 15 as its final day, but this week's snow may result in changes.
"We're thinking about adding another week," Sundell said. "We also could open only on weekends, or maybe open just a few lifts on the mountain, and stay open through April."
Dodge also plans to close April 15, though officials considered an earlier final day due to temperatures which reached the 60s before this week's storm.
"People were out there in shorts," Sundell said. "It was very nice, but it wasn't helping us in the long run. Any new snow right now is good."
Badger Pass at Yosemite will finish its season Saturday. The latest snow pushed Badger to about 75 percent of normal.
SKI NOTES — The fresh snowfall has improved the outlook everywhere in the Sierra heading to this weekend. North Lake Tahoe officials reported eight to 12 new inches at Squaw Valley USA, Alpine Meadows, Sugar Bowl, Boreal and Northstar. ... Squaw, boasting an 11-foot snowpack, plans to stay open through May. It opened its High Camp Swimming Lagoon and Spa last week, which means guests can ski and swim on the same day. ... Leland High Sierra Snow Play, a fun snow park about four miles above Strawberry on Highway 108, closed last weekend after a short 90-day season. Owner Lance Vetesey has considered reopening for the weekend, however, after the latest storm. Call 965-4719. ... Homewood, near Lake Tahoe's western shore, commands stunning views of the lake and one of the best mid-week discounts — lift tickets for only $27. ... Squaw Valley product Julia Mancuso, whose grandparents live in Patterson, placed third overall on the World Cup circuit. This was the best finish by an American woman since Tamara McKinney was third in 1984.