Lack of snow in Tahoe delays annual ski trip; students bummed


The lack of snow was apparent in a photo taken at Squaw Valley on Jan. 14. The ski season this year will not compare to lats year, when snow was abundant and the season lasted from November until early July. Photo by Jessie King Fredel.

Tessa Petrich, Staff Writer

Excited skiers and snowboarders flocked to Lake Tahoe this winter and found dry dirt runs instead of fresh powder. During the winter of 2010, Squaw Valley reported more than 10 feet of snow during the start of the season, but this season saw only about two feet of snow on most slopes.

The lack of snow forced delays for Urban’s annual ski trip. The company that helps Urban organize trips advised Athletic Director Greg Angilly to reschedule the trip due to the dry spell. The trip, originally scheduled for Jan. 20 to Jan. 22, has been postponed to March 9.

Avid skiers are frustrated and disappointed. “I’m on the Squaw Valley ski team, and honestly, it sucks,” said Audrey Cortes (’15). “All of the teams are training on one short, 20-second run and the lift lines are, like, 20 minutes long,” she said.  “There’s a loss of spirit for a lot of skiers.”

“I was planning to go (to Tahoe) over winter break but because of the abnormal lack of snow, we had to cancel the trip,” said Michael Fontana (’14). Fontana is only one out of the many Urban students who cancelled their trips. Other students journeyed to Tahoe and skied on machine-produced snow.

“I am a competitive skier and the lack of snow is making it hard to train and compete,” said Octave Lepinard (’15).

Students ask whether a greater environmental issue is behind this dry predicament.

“The biggest reason for the weather this winter has to do with a phenomenon called La Niña,“ said Bridget James, a geosciences lecturer at San Francisco State University. Geoff Ruth, Urban science teacher, who teaches an environmental science class, explains that La Niña occurs “when sea surface temperatures change in the Pacific Ocean and thus influence weather patterns across the western hemisphere.”

“Global warming is changing the conditions in which our weather forms,” said Andy Gunther, executive director at CEMAR, the Center for Ecosystem Management and Restoration, an Oakland-based company that works on environmental issues. Climate change has “implications for (students’) future lives,” he added.

Though there has been some rain and snow in recent weeks, the ski season this year will not compare to last year, when snow was abundant and the season lasted from November until early July.