TAHOE CITY— Feet and feet of early season snow are helping to boost the winter ski season in Tahoe, which had gotten off to a slow start.
Now, hotels bookings are on pace with last December, and some tourist industry officials are predicting that this season could exceed last year’s.
“Everybody in the ski industry was concerned about the implosion of the dot-com industry in the Bay Area and the effects of Sept. 11,” said Greg Murtha, marketing director for Sugar Bowl Resort. “Now, we’re optimistic it’s going to be a great year.”
Hotel bookings had slumped in October and November, but the new snow has helped turn things around.
Cal Neva Resort on the stateline saw a drop in business, including their big draw, weddings.
But now, all its rooms are booked for New Year’s, and it is offering special deals to attract people after the holiday.
“People are more comfortable traveling, and the snow is terrific,” said Cal Neva spokesman Rick Talbot. “I think this is going to be a be a good year for everybody up here.”
A series of storms have blanketed the region, and even forced the closure of Interstate 80. Chains often have been required throughout the Sierra Nevada, and the journey from San Francisco to Tahoe doubled to a seven-hour drive.
Squaw Valley reports its snow is nearly twice as deep as it usually is at this time.
“We’ve had 8 feet, almost 9 feet on the upper mountain,” said Eric Brandt, Squaw’s marketing director. “That’s huge for this time of year.”
Skiers and snowboarders are making the most of the thick snow.
“I really wanted to come,” said Nancy Rogers, during a short break at Squaw. “I wasn’t going to let anything stop me.”
No weather event such as El Nino is causing all the snow, said Mike Pechner, staff meteorologist for KCBS radio.
“It’s a normal weather pattern,” he said. “It just happened earlier than usual.”