Sierra-at-Tahoe on the south shore of Lake Tahoe received some snow Wednesday and it was still on the mountain Thursday.
After four years of drought, an early season dusting brings hope to Lake Tahoe ski resorts in California and Nevada.
And next week's forecast calls for cooler temperatures with a chance of more snow.
The fresh snow isn't enough for Sierra-at-Tahoe in Twin Bridges to open.
"The top of the mountain is white and it's definitely a good sign, especially in October," says Thea Hardy, communications manager at Sierra-at-Tahoe. "We do still have a ways to go, it takes a bit to open the resort up."
She says the ski area would need another six-inches of snow to open, from the 7,300-foot base to the 8,852-foot summit.
"We're going to wait for the temperatures to get lower and then we can supplement with snowmaking," says Hardy. "So historically, Sierra's in a spot where we're north-facing and we typically get more snow than many resorts in the basin."
Like many other ski areas, Sierra-at-Tahoe uses snowmaking to augment what Mother Nature provides.
But temperatures need to cooperate for the snow to stick.
El Niño is predicted to bring increased precipitation to parts of the Sierra Nevada.
But whether that comes as snow or rain will depend on elevation.
The National Weather Service winter forecast is for warmer-than-normal temperatures and wetter-than-normal precipitation for California in December, January and February.
Still, if the temperatures remain cold enough, the snow, natural and machine-made, will stick.
Lake Tahoe ski resorts and water managers will be watching to see how that plays out, for skiing and snowpack, as winter progresses.
"A typical year we would open the ski area around Thanksgiving, but last year we opened in December," says Hardy. "We're hoping the precipitation from El Niño will help us out. We'll take what we can get."
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