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Big snows come to California — finally — ahead of long holiday weekend

Downhill resorts in the Sierra got a good dose of winter this week with more expected.

California skiers and riders are facing the best conditions of the season after recent storms dumped snow from Lake Tahoe to Mammoth Lakes, frosting slopes ahead of the long Martin Luther King holiday weekend.

It was a warm storm, particularly for L.A.'s local mountain resorts, and San Bernardino Mountain operations were hoping that Monday's rain would turn to snow on Tuesday.

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Still, Mammoth Mountain might see 3 feet near the summit, forecasters said, before the system clears out starting Wednesday, giving way to sunny skies and mild temperatures by the weekend.

More important, the high pressure system that has hovered like a heat lamp over the state all season shows signs of finally budging, perhaps the most significant development to come out of the current system.

Resorts hope that the lifting of the high pressure opens the door for a string of storms, much like the ones that walloped the state in early January last season.

California road condition hotline: (800) 427-7623.

Mammoth Mountain
Mammoth Mountain after current storms.
Mammoth Mountain after current storms. (Peter Morning / Mammoth Mountain)

The big resort five hours from Los Angeles received a foot or more over the weekend at Main Lodge and 4-8 inches Monday, atop a base of 33 inches.

The snow comes in the nick of time, as the mountain prepares for Olympic trials Jan. 17-21.

The National Weather Service predicts snow through Tuesday, then clearing Wednesday and sunny and near 50 by the holiday weekend.

Bear Mountain/Snow Summit: Rain was expected to turn to snow Tuesday, atop a two-foot machine-made base. As with the Sierra, the current storm is expected to clear out Wednesday, with sunny skies through the weekend in Big Bear Lake, two hours from Los Angeles.

Snow Valley: The resort is closed until 9 a.m. Wednesday. Rain is expected to turn to snow on Tuesday, and nights are expected to be cold enough to make snow. The resort, less than two hours from L.A., hopes for good crowds by the end of the week, so that it can show off its new six-person lift.

Mountain High: Closed Monday and probably Tuesday as the wet storm passes, but the popular resort was hoping for up to six inches of fresh snow if temps cool. That would be atop a base of 6-12 inches at the resort, a 90-minute drive from Los Angeles.

Fresh flour at Northstar, where the door may be opening to a cycle of storms.
Fresh flour at Northstar, where the door may be opening to a cycle of storms. (Northstar)

Heavenly, Northstar and Kirkwood report 8-11 inches of new snow in the last five days and are forecast to receive more snow through Wednesday. Top-to-bottom skiing and snowboarding are available, after a disappointing holiday period.

Squaw Valley/Alpine was reporting much the same outcome, atop a 37-inch base.

California's biggest ski region, eight hours from Los Angeles, is tracking another storm system that may arrive in the middle of next week, another signal that the storm door is beginning to open.

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