OLYMPIC VALLEY (CBS13) – The future of Tahoe ski resorts may be too hot to handle with another snowless winter season. The resorts in our region are already beginning to envision a future without it.
The 1960 Winter Olympics put Tahoe on the map as a winter sports destination. The current Palisades Tahoe has hosted athletes from around the world for Olympics that researchers believe may never happen again.
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“We can keep fighting and keep trying to make snow, but at some point the temperatures are going to win out,” said Brendan Gibbons, snow surface manager at Palisades.
Researchers from the University of Waterloo in Canada say that with high emissions continuing to rise, by 2050, 50-89% of February days will not have enough snow to host major competitions. By 2080, the month could be almost 90% unreliable.
“We’re just in long dry spells,” Gibbons said. “Every year we feel the effects of it and talk about it and hope it changes in the future.”
If the weather doesn’t improve, Gibbons said it could put resorts like Palisades at risk.
“I don’t want to sugarcoat this at all, but climate change is a major concern for everyone in the ski industry,” he said.
So what is the solution ? Gibbons said they could store snow overnight.
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“When we’re in these dry spells like this, we go the extra mile to find the snow on the edges of the trails,” he said. “And we’ll take that snow and put it back on the main slopes.”
But between the seasons, their only option is to hope for a white winter.
“You can’t save snow from one season to another”
This not only puts the station’s future at risk, but the entire industry.
Bill Proffit owns Land Park Skit and Resort in Sacramento – it’s one of the few remaining ski shops in the area.
“We’re in a funk right now with the lack of snow,” Proffit said. “Being very dry has had a big impact on the ski business and ski shops.”
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Proffit and his team, who rely on loyal locals for their business, hope the future will bring more snow.