Jamie Bate

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December 26, 2003
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'Powder lover's paradise'

Mother Nature's Christmas gift of several feet of fresh powder in the Sierra was just a start.

Starting late Sunday, even more snow is forecast to fall, said Gina Beninato, a forecaster with the National Weather Service in Reno. And that means ideal conditions at Lake Tahoe ski resorts.

For the first time this season, Squaw Valley, Northstar-at-Tahoe and Boreal are fully open thanks to cold, strong storm systems coming out of Alaska and meeting up with moisture-laden air.

Snow is expected for the high Sierra again Sunday and Monday, Beninato said. Areas in lower elevations such as Grass Valley and Nevada City are likely to see rain through Tuesday, according to forecasts by Roseville-based Quikcast.com weather service.

Squaw Valley spokeswoman Katja Dahl said that for the first time "in a while," the venerable north shore resort saw a white Christmas.

"We received just over two feet," she said. "It is a powder lover's paradise."

Recent storms have rolled in mid-week and cleared by the weekend, the ideal scenario for skiers and riders. Sunday's predicted storm will fall perfectly before New Year's, Dahl said Friday.

"We still have another week of holiday. All the elements have come together perfectly," she said.

For Jason Auld, owner of Mountain Recreation in Grass Valley, the good type of bad weather translates into sales and rentals of skis and snowboards.

"We've been rocking," Auld said. "Combined with the holiday and weather, we have been really busy."

Auld's customers are primarily from western Nevada County. They tend to ski and ride at Northstar-at-Tahoe, Alpine Meadows and Sugar Bowl.

Nicole Belt, spokeswoman at Northstar, said the Christmas Eve storm and the coming weather have been ideal.

"It is pretty busy," she said. "We lucked out with the weather. Having a white Christmas and the holiday crowds is unbelievable. It's basically a dream season for us."

About 45 minutes from Grass Valley at Boreal Ski Resort, Wednesday's storm dropped more than three feet of fresh snow, said April Smith, Boreal's marketing manager. The storm has set a good base for the remainder of the season, she said.

"We're busy. Everybody is able to ski all day long, from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m.," Smith said. "The lines aren't too bad. We move things pretty good compared to other resorts."

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The Union Updated Dec 26, 2003 12:00AM Published Dec 26, 2003 12:00AM Copyright 2003 The Union. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.