Bolstered by up to 10 feet of snow and the prospect of more on the way, ski resorts in the Lake Tahoe area geared up for what could be one of the best holiday ski seasons in recent years.
"Conditions don't get any better than this," said Murray Blaney, a spokesman for Mount Rose-Ski Tahoe.
Blaney said a series of storms earlier this month left a base of 4 to 8 feet at the resort southwest of Reno.
A winter-storm watch was posted for the Lake Tahoe region today and Saturday, and forecasters predicted several more inches of snow could fall at the higher elevations by Monday.
A high-wind watch was issued for the region and the valleys of western Nevada, including the Carson City-Reno area.
"There's only a slight chance of rain, but it'll be pretty windy," said Roger Lamoni, meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Reno. "Local gusts will be up to 60 mph," he said Thursday night. "It doesn't look as windy as the storm we had a week ago, though. This is just a watch -- not a warning. A watch means it's not for sure. It'll either be upgraded to a warning or downgraded to an advisory by later (Thursday) night."
The National Weather Service said a chance of snow, accompanied by colder temperatures and blustering winds, would linger through New Year's Day.
But Blaney said wintry conditions wouldn't deter avid skiers and snowboarders.
"In a perfect world, we'd have sunny skies, calm winds and dry roads. But when you're in a winter resort area, you have to expect changes in the weather," he said.
"We're extremely fortunate to have this much snow only a few days after the beginning of winter."
At Northstar-at-Tahoe, spokeswoman Tracy Owen Chapman was equally optimistic.
"We expect a very strong weekend. Conditions are optimum," Chapman said.
The weather service said snow levels would begin around the 6,000-foot level and rise to around 6,500 feet on Friday before dropping to the valley floors of western Nevada on Saturday.
Winds were expected to intensify to 25 to 40 mph Friday, with gusts up to 50 mph in the valleys and up to 100 over the Sierra ridge tops, before dissipating Saturday.
Although the anticipated storms could lead to some problems for travelers, Chapman said the resort wasn't discouraged by the forecast.
"We always welcome more snow, she said.
For highway conditions, call (877) 687-6237 or go online at www.nvroads.com. On the radio, in Carson City tune into to 1610-AM; in Reno or Lake Tahoe, tune to 530-AM. Nation Weather Service online: http://www.wrh.noaa.gov/Reno/