While others in the Inland Empire prepare for the worst from a powerful winter storm Friday, others are hoping for the best.
Expectations are high for snowfall at the region’s ski resorts, which are around 7, 000 to 8, 000 feet in elevation.
“I think for that area, the highest peaks will see probably a couple of inches of snow, with mostly rain at lower elevations, ” said Accuweather meteorologist Alyson Hoegg. “At probably around 7, 000 to 8, 000 feet, the highest peaks of each mountain are going to see snow fall.”
Officials with the Big Bear Mountain Ski Resorts at Big Bear Lake and the Mountain High ski resort in Wrightwood were optimistic after experiencing dismal weather since the season began at the end of November.
Last week’s major rain caused snow to melt and closed the resorts, with Mountain High still remaining closed. Resort officials say they’re hoping this week’s storm brings not only natural snow, but also the colder temperatures needed to make snow.
“We’re certainly more optimistic about this storm coming in late Thursday or Friday morning, ” said Chris Riddle, vice president of marketing for the Big Bear Mountain Resorts.
Snow Summit resort had closed for two days last week on Thursday and Friday because of the rain.
“We do expect it to be a little warm on the front end, at least at the base area levels, ” Riddle said. “We probably will get a bit more rain, but there is a strong cold front associated with this and so sometime on Friday morning, we expect snow for the remainder of the storm.”
So far, Riddle said, “the weather has been warm and the snow has been thin, ” though the mountains did have their first snowfall in November.
“It hasn’t been cold enough to make enough snow, ” Riddle said. “The good part of the news is when this cold front comes through, we do expect to resume snow-making operations for the next two days and that’s almost as important as the natural snow.”
Snowmaking will continue as conditions permit at the Snow Valley ski resort in Running Springs, according to the resort website, which told readers to “stay tuned for the latest information.”
This month’s rain has kept Mountain High closed, though the new storm has given hope to Marketing Director John McColley. A headline on the resort’s website reads: “Winter is coming, heavy snow expected.”
“We’re definitely expecting snow, ” McColley said. “I think it start out raining. We’re looking for a couple of inches of snow, and cold temperatures out of that, and we’re hoping to be open in the latter part of the weekend, maybe Sunday or Monday.”
Hoegg said the storm and others likely to come later this winter should bring much-needed snow to the Sierra Mountain snowpack, a significant source of water for Southern California.
“I do think there is going to be drought relief, which I think is something definitely needed out there, ” Hoegg said. “It will build up the snowpack across the Sierras, which will be very useful come spring.”
“Southern California is getting water, and it’s really good we’re getting some in the Sierras, ” he said, “but it will take a series of several more storms in the north for the drought to be broken, and I think the current weather projections are for it to be a wet December up north, but more normal for the rest of the year. I am not confident that will break the drought.”