Late-season storm hits West Coast

Evidence of a recent powder day in Utah. Snowbird Ski Area is still open on weekends. Austin Holt

It may be mid-May but that doesn't mean that winter is over yet. Ski resorts around the country are reporting high snowfalls for this time of year, with Squaw Valley, Calif., getting 20 inches of snow in the past 48 hours, Mammoth, Calif., receiving seven to 11 inches, and Timberline, Ore., reporting six inches.

"It's not too unusual to see storms like this in mid-May," says Brian O'Hara, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Reno, Nev. "We get late-season storms like this every few years."

The storm hitting the West Coast isn't done yet. O'Hara says the National Weather Service has issued a winter weather advisory for the Sierra Nevada Mountains for Monday night through Tuesday morning, with five to eight inches of snowfall expected overnight in the central Sierra at elevations above 7,000 feet and two to five inches at lower elevations. "Tonight's storm should be another nice addition to the snowpack," O'Hara said. "The ski resorts obviously like that."

Ski areas around the West are reaping the benefits of the late-season storms and staying open well into summer. Utah's Snowbird, Oregon's Mt. Bachelor and BC's Blackcomb Mountain are all currently open. In Colorado, Arapahoe Basin is currently open on weekends until at least June 19, but they're hoping to extend the season even longer. "We would like to stay open on the weekends until the fourth of July, but we'll have to see how snow conditions hold up to announce any further plans past June 19," says Alan Henceroth, general manager for Arapahoe Basin. The last time A-Basin was open through July 4 was 1997; in 2003, they made it to July 2.

In California, Squaw will stay open through May 30, Mammoth Mountain will be open daily until July 4 and Alpine Meadows closed Sunday but recently announced that they'd reopen for the weekend of July 4. "Skiing on the 4th of July holiday weekend is the ultimate way to celebrate Independence Day," said Kent Hoopingarner, general manager of Alpine Meadows. "The fact that we're able to offer such a novelty is indicative of the amount of snow the mountain received this winter, which was more than 71 feet."