New York Times - As Snow Fades, California Ski Resorts Are Left High and Very Dry

New York Times - As Snow Fades, California Ski Resorts Are Left High and Very Dry

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New York Times - As Snow Fades, California Ski Resorts Are Left High and Very Dry

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Eye opening article from John Branch at the New York Times

“TWIN BRIDGES, Calif. — At ski areas up and down the jagged peaks of the Sierra Nevada, where California’s drought has hit historic proportions and the broader threat of climate change hangs heavy over an industry built on optimism, the man-made snow is flying.

A couple of resorts have managed to open a few runs. But beyond the occasional strip of white, the mountains remain mostly bare.

“From a business perspective, I’m a farmer,” said John Rice, general manager of Sierra At Tahoe a ski area south of Lake Tahoe. Last week, he had a small pile of man-made snow, a mountain of naked runs and a hope to open in early December. “I’m not in the ski business,” Mr. Rice said. “I farm snow.”

The season is just starting, and snow may yet pile high, but the harvest in California the last three years was bleak, and the globe’s long-range forecast is grim. Fortunes are as unpredictable as ever, with bigger swings of weather variability. While snow levels have decreased drastically in the West and are generally on decline elsewhere in the United States, the drop is hardly uniform. Last week, for example, the Buffalo area set records with an early snowstorm.

The ski industry, which expects higher temperatures, less snow and shorter seasons in the coming decades, is seen a bit like the canary in the coal mine of climatology.

“This is a very serious and as strategically significant a topic as you can get,” said Andy Wirth, president and chief executive of Squaw Valley a major resort near Lake Tahoe.

No front line of skiing is fighting with the immediacy of resorts in California. Resorts big and small are combating the trends with bigger investments in snow making ($8 million worth at Squaw Valley and neighboring Alpine Meadows in the last three years) and more activities less reliant on snow, whether indoors in the winter or outdoors in the summer.

They are moves to attract more customers in the short run, but also hedges in a high-stakes gamble with the future of snow.”…..Keep Reading HERE

 

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