A big topic during this morningâ€™s Heavenly Ski Patrol daily meeting was the upcoming weather and I thought the time was right to talk about the forecast as well as how to safely enjoy it once itâ€™s on the ground. First of all, letâ€™s talk about the possibilities for fresh snow here at Heavenly over the next week to 10 days.
I started my morning as I usually do by reviewing various sources for weather, and then applied my own experience and observations to what the experts are saying. I am stoked to be able to say that at this point I see a good chance for four different weather systems affecting us through the middle of next week, starting with tonightâ€™s storm. Tonightâ€™s storm looks like a classic winter storm on the infrared satellite pics coming in from the west with good jet stream support and orographic lifting. This is a good setup for a decent snow producer for us, but also look for high winds which could affect upper mountain lift operations tomorrow morning. I think there is a good chance we could see roughly a foot by tomorrow mid morning. The next system on tap looks like it will start to affect us by Friday afternoon and overnight into Saturday. The good thing about this one is that the models are coming into better agreement on it and at this point it looks like it will hold together better than previously thought. This one could be another good snow event with hopefully another foot plus. Storms number 3 and 4 will hold off until the middle of next week, and the models are still trying to figure them out, so I will hold off commenting on them.
Now on to the really good stuff; how to safely enjoy the powder once itâ€™s on the slope! Anytime we have fresh snow the ski patrol starts its day by assessing the conditions and doing avalanche control work with explosives. It is very important to pay attention to this activity, observe all closures, and play it safe. Definitely expect Mott and Killebrew Canyons to be on a delayed opening if we get a good amount of snow. If you are unsure of where to go and when stop into any of our four on-mountain patrol stations and ask a patroller. Fortunately we have a stable and strong existing snowpack, but it is still critical to play it safe with new snow. Always check in with the Sierra Avalanche Center for the latest advisory before venturing out of bounds through our access gates, and observe backcountry protocol. This means be aware of conditions, be educated about safe travel, carry and know how to use a personal avalanche transceiver, and carry a snow shovel and probe. Be safe and have fun!
Editor’s Note: Brian Gannon is the Director of Ski Patrol at Heavenly Mountain Resort. Brian has been with the Heavenly Ski Patrol since the winter of 1990, and has been the Ski Patrol Director for the past 3 seasons. From 2001 through 2007 Brian was the Snow Safety Coordinator at Heavenly and oversaw the daily snowpack observations and avalanche control activities. As the Patrol Director he oversees all patrol duties and a staff of 70 patrollers, base area medics, patrol candidates, and snowmobile drivers.
Although not originally from Tahoe, Brian has been in the area for over 20 years. Brian currently lives in Gardnerville, NV with his wife and two beautiful twins. His dream is to get his kids on skis by the end of this season, and start their training as future ski patrollers.