The first significant snowstorm of the season is expected to land today bringing up to a foot of snow above 7,000 feet, and giving South Shore ski resorts the boost they need as they plan to open by Thanksgiving.
A winter storm warning is in effect until 10 a.m. this morning at elevations above 7,000 feet. Snow could fall down to lake level, but it will likely be wet and slushy, said Jon Bonk, forecaster for the National Weather Service. Snow will likely collect around the 6,500- foot level, with 4 to 6 inches expected.
"Snow showers will probably linger through Wednesday, and it will warm up some after that," Bonk said. "The rest of the week will be partly cloudy conditions with larger breaks here and there. Temperatures should stay cool enough for the resorts, but may come back up into the 50s by the weekend."
The arrival of significant snow spells good news for Kirkwood Mountain Resort, Sierra-at-Tahoe and Heavenly Mountain resort, which hope to or have plans to open by Nov. 18.
Snow making has been ongoing at Kirkwood and Heavenly. Sierra relies on the powers of Mother Nature, and its annual "Pray for Snow" party on Thursday at Rojos to conjure significant powder amounts.
"We're all anxiously awaiting the snowfall that is predicted to happen and we're wrapping up last-minute projects on the mountain to get ready for the snow," said Sierra spokeswoman Nicole Belt.
The ski area hopes for a target opening around Thanksgiving, and with snow, its operations are such that they can open fairly quickly once it gets a couple feet, Belt added.
"All hired staff are on stand-by," she said. "We could open at a moment's notice."
Meanwhile, Heavenly and Kirkwood have had their snow-making machines fired up for the past few days, as temperatures drop below freezing at night.
Both ski areas have visible amounts of snow - either what's left from the last storm system and the man-made snow - on top of their respective mountain tops.
"What we are getting is the way you want it, good and cold," Miller said. "We've probably got 6 to 8 inches at the top of the mountain. Hopefully, this storm will give us more."
At Heavenly, manmade snow is visible above the gondola, branching out around several runs.
"Our goal is when Nov. 18 hits we'll be ready to go whether we have natural snow or not," said Russ Pecoraro, director of communication for Heavenly.