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Ski areas set to open



With the coming of snow, area ski resorts are ready to go: Bear Valley and Badger Pass will open tomorrow and Dodge Ridge will kick off its season Saturday.

But, with this morning's snow level dipping well below 3,000 feet, foothills commuters got more than they wanted.

The snow level dropped to the Tuolumne Junction area, and a few flakes fell as low as downtown Sonora.

"It's a mess right now," California Highway Patrol Officer Brad Schultz said at 9 this morning. "Cars are blocking Phoenix Lake and Big Hill roads, and there are more cars blocking Longeway Road.

"We have an accident at Twain Harte Drive and Lava Road with cars over the side, and there are dozens of cars all over the road on Tuolumne Road's Buckhorn Grade.

"I hear there is even a big rig in that mess," Schultz said.

But the snow is good news for skiers and snowboarders.

Bear Valley, off Highway 4 in Alpine County, and Badger Pass, in Yosemite National Park, will open tomorrow. Dodge Ridge, off Highway 108 near Pinecrest, will open Saturday.

It has been snowing off and on in the high country since last Thursday, and more than a foot has fallen in the last 24 hours.

The National Weather Service forecast is for more rain and snow this weekend, after a break between storms tonight and early tomorrow.

Bear Valley had a base yesterday ranging from 40 to 44 inches of powder, said spokesman Schuyler Harrison, and it was still snowing.

"We finally have conditions to get excited about," he said. "The weather pattern is setting up nicely for what should be a good holiday period for us."

Karrie Mathson of Dodge Ridge said lifts will open at 8:30 a.m. Saturday.

"This is a pretty normal opening time for us," she said. "We historically open the first or second week in December, so we are right on track."

Dodge had an accumulated base of 19 to 35 inches yesterday, and flakes were falling.

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