Mammoth Mountain is Big Winner in Late Feb. Snow Dump But Local Resorts are Grateful

Chair 9 at Mammoth Mountain ski area Thursday.
Chair 9 at Mammoth Mountain ski area Thursday.
Photos courtesy of Mammoth Lakes Tourism Board

Of all the California ski areas and resorts, Mammoth Mountain is forecast to get the largest late February gift from the winter storms moving through the area this week, with 3-4 feet of snowfall expected to bolster the 1 1/2 feet that just fell on the Eastern Sierra resort.

Meanwhile, in our local Southern California mountains, high winds and heavy rains wreaked havoc on two popular ski resorts, as Snow Summit in Big Bear and Mtn. High in Wrightwood were closed Thursday.

Mtn. High, which had a base of 6-8 inches heading into the storms, will remain closed today but has announced plans to reopen Saturday, hopefully with more than a foot of new snow from the second storm to pound Southern California this week.

"By no means is the 2013/14 season over so keep your gear close and we'll be riding again soon!" relates MtnHigh.com. "We fully expect to reopen this weekend with hopes of remaining open all the way through Easter."

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The ski area offers "some fun facts to put things into perspective," including the fact that 30-40 percent of the season is still ahead of us, March is often the snowiest month and on average April 21 is their closing date.

Summit, with a pre-storm base of 8-18 inches, was scheduled to reopen at 8:30 this morning but suggested checking Big Bear area weather reports, which is what I did. Here's what it said as of Thursday afternoon at BigBearWeather.com:

The warm front out ahead of our powerful winter storm is nosing into central California at this time, but still a ways out from us as we remain under partly cloudy skies this afternoon; breezy and cool with highs in the 40's. Our next storm will roll in overnight tonight, with more wind & rain developing, becoming heavy at times by sunrise. Gusty southwest winds 30-50 mph will also accompany this system with heavy showers expected throughout the day Friday, the snow level will remain above 8,500 feet, lowering Friday night as the cold front finally passes through. Low pressure will then linger across the region over the weekend for off & on scattered snow showers; even some thundersnow is possible with the cold & unstable airmass. The snow level will hover around 6,000 feet through the weekend, occasionally dipping lower, especially at night. This storm has the potential to drop 2-4" of rain across the area before changing over to snow Friday night, at which point 6-12" is a still a good bet through the weekend above 6,000ft, with locally higher amounts possible; especially above 7,500 feet.

It goes on to repeat what's been said about the wet storm down here in the flats: that the moisture will taper off late Sunday before clearing Monday with fair weather returning through at least midweek.

As for the snow forecast, keep in mind the base elevation at Summit is 7,000 feet and the top elevation is 8,200 feet. At sister resort Bear Mountain, the base is at 7,140 feet and it has four peaks: Bear Peak at 8,805 feet, Silver Mountain at 8,560 feet, Goldmine Mountain at 8,440 feet and Showdown Mountain at 8,000 feet.

"Plan on driving up Friday so you can enjoy some freshies Saturday morning!" suggests BearMountain.com. "If winter weather is in effect for Saturday's War of Rails event the finals will be moved to Sunday, March 2."

Also having operated with a base of 8-18 inches of snow heading into this week's storms, Bear did not close like Summit did. Neither did Snow Valley, although it did end operations early, at noon Thursday. Snow-Valley.com notes it is a shame its upper mountain has remained closed due to "unseasonably warm weather," which explains why its adult, all-day lift tickets are only $28. However, the area has also announced night skiing will return.

You're advised if traveling in the San Bernardino Mountains this weekend to be prepared for rapidly changing weather conditions with mixed precipitation, wind, fog, rain, snow, areas of blowing and drifting snow and, thereby, reduced visibility. A winter storm watch that began at 6 this morning continues through 2 a.m. Sunday. Better have tire chains.

Local resort operators dream they'd be receiving the wallop of their competition in Mammoth, which has seen its base increase to 100-120 inches as of late Thursday afternoon and was bracing for "the biggest storm system to hit the Eastern Sierra in two years," according to a resort spokesman.

By the way, if you go up to Mammoth today, you can see an Orange County band play live tonight. The Colourist is scheduled to perform with Night Terrors at Underground club in the Village. More shows are scheduled through at least early May; email underground@mammoth-mtn.com and ask for the schedule.

The first storm brought ski areas ringing Lake Tahoe six inches to just over a foot of desperately needed snow. More white stuff is on the way, according to the forecast. Wax those boards, kiddies.

Email: mcoker@ocweekly.com. Twitter: @MatthewTCoker. Follow OC Weekly on Twitter @ocweekly or on Facebook!


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