A relatively brief but intense storm dumped up to 16 inches of snow Sunday in the Sierra Nevada to help set up ski resorts for the Christmas holidays.
National Weather Service forecaster Mark Brown said snow fell at a rate of 3 inches an hour at its height. The storm hit the region after midnight and made way for blue skies by late Sunday morning.
"It was a pretty good amount of snow for a short amount of time," he said.
The 7,200-feet-high Boreal ski area atop Donner Summit reported 4-6 inches of snow from a Friday night storm and 12-16 inches of snow from the latest storm.
"With a very solid base to ski and snowboard on, we're perfectly set up for the Christmas holidays," Boreal spokeswoman Jody Churich said. "We're looking forward to a big Christmas."
After the storm cleared, chain controls were lifted on two major trans-Sierra highways: Interstate 80 over Donner Summit and U.S. 50 over Echo Summit.
But chains or snow tires were still required late in the day on other Tahoe-area highways, including Highway 88 near Kirkwood, Calif., and U.S. 50 on the lake's east shore.
No major accidents were reported.
As the storm spread eastward, similar controls went into effect on highways across a wide swath of northern Nevada, including I-80 in Elko County, U.S. 93 south of Wells and U.S. 95 north of Winnemucca.
Water officials said the storms were just what the region needs after three straight dry winters.
Sunday's snowpack water content measured at 105 percent of average for the date in the Tahoe Basin, 96 percent in the Truckee River watershed, 120 percent in the Carson River basin and 111 percent in the Walker River watershed.
The weather service was calling for a return to mostly sunny skies on Monday and a chance of snow in the region again on Thursday.
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Your Responsibility Code:
Observe the code listed below and share with other skiers the responsibility for a great skiing experience.
1. Always stay in control.
2. People ahead of you have the right of way.
3. Stop in a safe place for you and others.
4. Whenever starting downhill or merging, look uphill and yield.
5. Use devices to help prevent runaway equipment.
6. Observe signs and warnings, and keep off closed trails.
7. Know how to use the lifts safely.
Tips for Prior to Hitting the Slopes
Get in shape. Don't try to ski yourself into shape. You'll enjoy skiing more if you're physically fit.
Obtain proper equipment. Be sure to have your ski or snowboard bindings adjusted correctly at a local ski shop. You can rent good ski or snowboarding equipment at resorts.
When buying skiwear, look for fabric that is water and wind-resistant. Look for wind flaps to shield zippers, snug cuffs at wrists and ankles, collars that can be snuggled up to the chin and drawstrings that can be adjusted for comfort and keep wind out. Be sure to buy quality clothing and products.
Dress in layers. Layering allows you to accommodate your body's constantly changing temperature. For example, dress in polypropylene underwear (top and bottoms), which feels good next to the skin, dries quickly, absorbs sweat and keeps you warm. Wear a turtleneck, sweater and jacket.
Be prepared. Mother Nature has a mind of her own. Bring a headband or hat with you to the slopes, 60 percent of heat-loss is through the head. Wear gloves or mittens (mittens are usually better for those susceptible to cold hands).
Wear sun protection. The sun reflects off the snow and is stronger than you think, even on cloudy days!
Always wear eye protection. Have sunglasses and goggles with you. Skiing and snowboarding are a lot more fun when you can see.
Tips for while on the Slopes
Take a lesson. Like anything, you'll improve the most when you receive some guidance. The best way to become a good skier or snowboarder is to take a lesson from a qualified instructor.
The key to successful skiing/snowboarding is control. To have it, you must be aware of your technique, the terrain and the skiers/snowboarders around you. Be aware of the snow conditions and how they can change. As conditions turn firm, the skiing gets hard and fast. Begin a run slowly.
Skiing and snowboarding require a mental and physical presence.
If you find yourself on a slope that exceeds your ability level, always leave your skis/snowboard on and side step down the slope.
The all-important warm-up run prepares you mentally and physically for the day ahead.
Drink plenty of water. Be careful not to become dehydrated.
Curb alcohol consumption. Skiing and snowboarding do not mix well with alcohol or drugs.
Know your limits. Learn to ski and snowboard smoothly—and in control. Stop before you become fatigued and, most of all have fun.
If you’re tired, stop skiing. In this day and age of multi-passenger gondolas and high-speed chairlifts, you can get a lot more time on the slopes compared to the days of the past when guests were limited to fixed grip chairlifts.
Ski Tips for Kids
Have your child memorize the "Your Responsibility Code." It's the seven rules of the slopes and many accidents can be avoided by adhering to the Code.
Ski helmets are a good idea. If your child wears a ski helmet, remember you may have to raise your voice more to get their attention because a helmt may impede their hearing.. Make sure the helmet fits correctly. A ski helmet is not an item you buy for your child to grow into. Educate your child about the benefits and limitations of the helmet. Wearing a helmet doesn't give permission to ski or snowboard faster or recklessly.
Dress in layers. Layering allows you to accommodate your body's constantly changing temperature. For example, dress your kids in polypropylene underware (top and bottoms) which feels good next to the skin, dries quickly, absorbs sweat and keeps you warm. Your kids should also wear a turtleneck, sweater and waterproof jacket.
Be prepared. Mother nature has a mind of her own. Kids should wear a hat or headband, 80 percent of heat-loss is through the head. Kids should also wear gloves or mittens (mittens are usually better for kids who are susceptible to cold hands).
Be sure they wear sun protection, even on cloudy days. The sun reflects off the snow and is stronger than you think! A ski vacation with a sun burn is no fun!
Kids should have sunglasses and goggles with them. Skiing is a lot more fun when you can see. Always wear eye protection.
When buying skiwear, look for fabric that is water and wind-resistant. Look for wind flaps to shield zippers, snug cuffs at wrists and ankles, collars that can be snuggled up to the chin and deep pockets. Be sure to buy your children quality clothing products.
Be sure you child has the name and phone number of your hotel written down on a piece of paper and it's in a secure pocket. If you carry a cell phone, include this number too.
When you've decide what area to take your ski trip, call the ski resorts in the area and research how each area's children ski school programs are structured. Ask about the number of kids in the class? What if your child gets cold? What if your child wants to stop skiing after one hour? Does the ski school offer pagers?
Put your kids in ski school to get them on the right track. Children's instructors know how to teach kids, it's their business. Then you'll enjoy skiing with your kids and they will be proud to show you their skiing abilities.
An observance from a long-time skier is that when his daughter skied with him, she regressed, as opposed to skiing with her peers in a lesson. "She wanted to ski in-between my legs and fell down more often. We had fun with her being silly, but a lesson allowed her to focus on her skiing and she really excelled."
Although it is very unlikely that your child would get separated from the instructor, be sure your child has a trail map and is able to remember the instructor's name.
Make sure your child knows when to stop skiing. For example, if the clothing layer next to their skin stays wet and they're chilled, if they're injured, have a problem with equipment or even if they're simply worn out. Educate them that it's alright to stop before the end of the day and breaks are fun.
Make a meeting place if you get separated, for example, at the bottom of chairlift #2. The walkie talkies now available are convenient and a big hit on the slopes.
Starting your kids early, opens a world of adventure, fun, laughter and beautiful scenery unsurpassed, from many other sports and interests. It's a tremendous feeling to learn that your kids' fondest childhood memories were of your family ski vacations and now skiing has become an important element in their lives. Your kids will be forever grateful to you when they become adults!
Fatalities - According to the National Ski Areas Association (NSAA): During the past 10 years, about 39 people have died skiing/snowboarding per year on average.
The National Sporting Goods Association reports last year there were 7.7 million skiers and 5.3 million snowboarders.
Serious injuries (paraplegics, serious head and other serious injuries) occur at the rate of about 41 per year, according to the NSAA.
Nationally, 43 percent of skiers and snowboarders are part of a family with children (living at home), according to the NSAA National Demographic Study.
Parents say that 66 percent of their children ski only, 30 percent snowboard only, 19 percent do both and 10 percent don’t do either
Frequently Asked Questions:
Is the number of ski injuries increasing?
The overall rate of reported skiing injuries has declined by 50 percent since the early 1970s, according to Jasper Shealy, professor at the Rochester Institute of Technology in Rochester, N.Y., who has studied ski-related injuries for almost 30 years. The once feared broken lower leg from skiing is now a thing of the past, declining more than 95 percent since the early 1970s. The overall rate of reported alpine ski injuries remains essentially the same as 10 years ago—2.6 reported injuries per 1,000 skier visits.
Have snowboard injuries increased?
The rate for snowboarding injuries appears to have increased to 6.97 from 3.37 per 1,000 visits from 10 years ago. It is also important to understand that the pattern of injury is quite different. Snowboarders typically injure wrists (20% of all injuries) or ankles (10% of all injuries) whereas skiers typically injure knees (30% of all injuries).
Have some ski injuries increased?
The most significant upward trend in ski injuries since the early 1970s, according to a study by the University of Vermont Department of Orthopedics, is in ACL injuries, or injuries to the anterior cruciate ligament of the knees, which crosses the knee at a diagonal angle underneath the kneecap.
What do ski areas do to address the safety issue of skiing?
Mountain resorts expend tremendous energy and expense educating their guests about skier and snowboarder safety. NSAA and its member areas officially endorse the "Your Responsibility Code," the seven slope safety points. Below are some of the many slope safety campaigns.
General Ski Safety Tips
Before skiing is the right time to check your gear. Skis should be turned and bottoms repaired. Check your boots for proper binding fit and sole wear. Boots and binding must work smoothly as a unit. Pitting and wear along the boot's sole can interfere with the release mechanisms. Your bindings are the most important part of your equipment, and they should be replaced every 3-4 years. Have your bindings' release checked by a qualified technician. The leg you save could be your own.
If renting, check your equipment before heading up the lift. Be sure you understand how this equipment works because the equipment may be different from your own or different from another ski resort’s rentals.
Dress in Layers:
Mountain weather is unpredictable. Start with long underwear and thermal socks. Wearing a turtleneck under a sweater, along with a ski suit or parka, will allow you to shed layers if you get too warm. A hat is vital. About 30% of heat loss comes from the head. Mittens are warmer than gloves.
Use Sunblock and Wear Glasses
It's important to use a sunblock cream because the sun's intensity increases in thin air. Goggles or UV filtering sunglasses prevent snow blindness on bright days and increases visibility on cloudy days.
Warm Up Before the First Run
Just as with any exercise, warm ups are important before skiing to prevent injuries. Jogging in place and jumping jacks get cold muscles moving and ready for activity. Make sure to stretch calves, hamstrings and low back muscles.
Take Ski Lessons
Your time on the mountain will be more enjoyable the better you ski. Learning to ski, and skiing better, will also make your experience safer. A qualified instructor will help you with technique and is paid to be patient and helpful, unlike some spouses or friends.
Know the Rules About Food and Drink
Before skiing, eat a good nutritious breakfast. During the day on the slopes, drink plenty of fluids since dehydration is common at high altitudes. Alcohol and drugs are unsafe anywhere but even more so while skiing because they increase fatigue and make skiers more prone to the cold.
Don't Start on the Hardest Run
Take a couple of runs on the easy slopes first to loosen up before tackling harder runs. Also, remember to ski in control. Many serious accidents are the results of collisions caused by out-of-control skiing.
Don't Be Afraid to Say No
Your friends say "go." You think "no." Don't get talked into skiing a slope that's too difficult for you. Take your time. Go at your own pace, and challenge you skiing abilities only when you are ready. Don’t stop to rest in dangerous places! This includes lift exits, blind spots where approaching skiers cannot see you in advance or narrow places where all people on the run must pass. At high altitude, it is very important to keep properly hydrated.
Don't Take the Last Run
Your last run of the day is typically the most dangerous and the time when most accidents occur. Tired muscles won't respond as quickly, daylight becomes flat and obstacles are harder to see. If you feel tired, don't chance an accident that can ruin an entire ski trip.