Late-season storms bring snow, skiers to Sierra Nevada

People line up at a chairlift in heavy snow
Skiers line up at Mammoth Mountain’s Canyon Express high-speed chairlift on Friday.
(Peter Morning / Mammoth Mountain Ski Area)

A series of late-season storms pummeled the Sierra Nevada with several feet of snow, drawing skiers to the mountains on Easter Sunday as more snow is expected to fall this week.

In the last week, upper portions of the mountains around Lake Tahoe received 1 to 3.5 feet of snow, said Dawn Johnson, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Reno.

“It’s pretty unusual to get storms like this, this late in the year,” Johnson said. “We still have two more coming in this week.”


Tim LeRoy, a spokesperson for Mammoth Mountain, said the area received 14 to 16 inches of snow.

“It’ll sort of freshen things up through the remainder of this ski season,” said LeRoy, adding that Mammoth will be open through at least Memorial Day. “Snow in Mammoth is water for the rest of California, so the more of it the better.”

The water level at Mono Lake has fallen to a key threshold, prompting cuts in water exports by the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power.

Johnson said the storms have resulted in bumps in the snow water equivalent, or how much water is contained in the snowpack. She said it marks the first increase since December, “which of course is going to help considering that we spent so many months during our wet season being so dry.”

Johnson added, “It helps the drought but by no means eradicates the drought.”

Officials cautioned drivers coming up mountain passes to be prepared for snow-covered roads, as authorities have reported a series of weather-related wrecks and spinouts.

“We just want to make sure anybody coming up here is prepared for winter conditions,” Johnson said. “The worst time frames are always going to be in the nighttime into the early morning hours.”