In California, Ski Resorts Celebrate Early Storm, Pray to El Nino

Ski resorts and local businesses in California hope an early snow storm this week means there will be no re-run of last year’s disappointing season on the slopes.

More than a foot of snow fell in the Mammoth Lakes area of Californian’s Eastern Sierra on Monday, leading the mega-Mammoth Mountain Ski Area to decide to kick off its 2014/2015 skiing and snowboarding season on Thursday, almost a week earlier than planned.

“We received 12 to 30 inches of new snow and the cold temperatures means we can make snow as well,” said Mammoth Mountain spokeswoman Laura Burke, “Hopefully it’s a sign of good things to come.”

Last year, ski areas in the region didn’t get nearly as much snow as they hoped for.

“Last year we were skiing and riding only through the Memorial Day weekend,” said Burke, “But in heavier snowfall years we can be out there through July.”

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Early snow – and lots of it – can make a big difference, business-wise, for the entire region.

“It helps set the tone for winter in our community,” said Lara Kaylor, spokeswoman for Mammoth Lakes Tourism, “It creates momentum for holiday bookings and helps get visitors excited about making a trip to Mammoth Lakes to ski and snowboard.”

Anatomy of a Snowflake 1:35

Which is why both business owners and tourists are enthusiastic about the return of El Niño.

“Much of the meteorological community believes this developing El Nino will be very powerful and may bring substantial precipitation to the region,” notes, “Let’s cross our fingers and party like it is 1982 or 1997, both being analogous El Nino years that buried Mammoth Lakes under massive amounts of snow.”