Chain laws were in effect for Mammoth Lakes on Thursday after the first of a potentially historic string of winter storms dumped more than 3 feet of snow on the Eastern Sierra ski town. Up to 20 feet of snow was forecast over the next week and a half.
The midweek storm left 7 feet of snow at the summit, and though travel was spotty, travelers were able to get out of town.
The storms come on the heels of the area’s holiday season and lead up to the long and traditionally busy Martin Luther King Jr. holiday weekend, Jan. 14-16.
“We’re actually getting tons more booking for this weekend and next,” Bianca Longino said in between taking reservation requests at the Seasons 4 condo complex in the village.
“For us, there’s no such thing as too much snow,” she said.
Caltrans issued storm warnings for U.S. Highway 395 from 20 miles north of Bishop to eight miles north of Lee Vining.
Chains were required on all vehicles except four-wheel drive vehicles with snow tires.
For updates on road conditions, call (800) 427-7623.
Mammoth Yosemite Airport, seven miles from the town of Mammoth Lakes, was open Thursday, and airport manager Brian Picken said that he didn’t anticipate weather issues in the next day or so.
Late in the week, the airport averages four commercial flights a day, from Los Angeles, San Francisco and San Diego.
As of noon Thursday, white-out conditions were still evident through town, though winds were dying down. Only one chair (Discovery Express 11) was running out of Mammoth Mountain’s Main Lodge.
The rest were closed or on weather hold. Conditions were more favorable at Canyon Lodge, where half of the 12 chairs were running.
Check here for the latest mountain conditions.
Residents reported that plows were mostly keeping up with the snows, though most visitors and locals were using shuttles to get around. The snows were expected to subside Friday, before kicking in again on Saturday.
“It’s stunningly beautiful here,” resident Cynthia Hayes said after returning from a morning snowshoe outing. “The pines are heavy with snow and there is no wind … through them.”
Lake Tahoe ski resorts were also celebrating the storm cycle after receiving more than six feet of fresh snow.
Forecasters predicted an additional 3 to 5 feet of snow heading into next week.
The statewide storms were the result of a string of so-called “atmospheric rivers” that deliver particularly heavy concentrations of snow. In the next week and a half, the state was expecting three of those cycles.
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