Area ski resorts are upbeat about the 2013 ski season, now winding down after a second straight year of lower-than-average snowfall.
Dodge Ridge off Highway 108 in Tuolumne County on Sunday closed for the season. Bear Valley in Alpine County will remain open through this weekend and will close no later than April 21.
This season took place over the second dry winter in a row for the Sierra Nevada. According to the California Department of Water Resources, the state’s mountain snowpack is about half of the average for the season — a similar end-of-year pack seen in 2012.
Rosie Sundell, Bear Valley spokeswoman, said this season overall was better than last for business because of the timing of the snow. While this year’s January and February were unusually dry, the season started with a blast of December snow that carpeted the high county.
The early-winter storms hit just in time for great snow conditions in the Christmas, New Year and Martin Luther King holidays, Sundell said. And while January did not see much precipitation, a stretch of cold temperatures through the month kept conditions ideal.
“The main thing for us or any ski resort is the timing of that snow to determine what type of season you’re going to have,” she said.
“The early snow was huge. All of us had a great holiday season.” Sundell later said. “It definitely was a lower (than typical) snow season, but the timing worked out.”
Sally Helm, president of Dodge Ridge Ski resort, echoed Sundell’s sentiments.
“We were very lucky when we received that significant snowfall at Christmas and we got off to fabulous start,” she said.
The late snow and early spring shortened the ski season and brought fewer resort visitors than normal.
“Compared to other seasons, where we open in November and close in mid- to late-April, we had less visitors. When it snows, people come out. But with the drier January and February, we didn’t see as many people as we normally would if we had received normal snowfall. We were about 50 percent of our (normal) snowfall,” Helm said.
While below average, Dodge Ridge had better attendance than last year, according to marketing director Amber Jenquin.
Snow sports are a wintertime economic driver for both counties.
Bear Valley and Dodge Ridge both provide hundreds of seasonal jobs from December to April. Traffic to and fro also helps support ski-related businesses and restaurant along the highway.
This year’s season snow total at Bear Valley was 200 inches, which is below a typical 300 inch season. This year’s totals were not available for Dodge Ridge, although the seasonal average ranges from 300 to 500 inches with a typical season ending in April.
Though the snow season is about through, both resorts continue some business through the summer.
Dodge Ridge is regularly used for weddings and events, and the resort also runs campgrounds. At Bear Valley, summer festivals and music events are held every year.