Late-Season Storm Comes Too Late for Sierra Ski Resorts

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Winter lingered in the Sierra on Sunday as a storm left up to 18 inches of snow and delayed mountain motorists.

"Looking out the window, it seems more like Christmastime. It's definitely a winter wonderland," said Juanita Holley, spokeswoman
for the California Department of Transportation's Kingvale, Calif., station along Interstate 80 near Donner Summit.

The potent storm came too late for most Lake Tahoe ski resorts after a disheartening ski season that saw less than half the usual snowfall.

But the fresh snow caused excitement at the few ski areas still open, and was welcome for more reason than one.

"The new snow is great for diehard skiers and snowboarders, and
will provide good conditions for the rest of spring," said Alpine Meadows spokeswoman Rachael Woods. "The moisture is also crucial
for area lake and stream levels," as well as summer water supplies.

The Heavenly and Mount Rose resorts closed for the season on Sunday. Alpine Meadows and Kirkwood plan to shut down April 29,
while Squaw Valley and Mammoth Mountain are aiming for at least Memorial Day weekend.

Chains were mandatory at various times on all three major highways linking Sacramento to the Reno-Tahoe area: Interstate 80 over Donner Summit, U.S. 50 over Echo Summit and Highway 88 over Carson Pass.

I-80's westbound lanes over Donner Summit were temporarily shut down Sunday afternoon after slick road conditions caused vehicles to spin out of control, Holley said.

To the south, the storm also closed a short stretch of Highway 88 near Kirkwood, Calif.

Around Lake Tahoe, the storm left as much as 18 inches of snow at Kingvale, 15 inches at Alpine Meadows, 12 inches at Homewood, Calif., 7 inches at Mount Rose and 4 inches at South Lake Tahoe,

(Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)