Too much of a good thing? MMSA promotes snow, but travel conditions are dangerous
In a promotional email sent to passholders Wednesday, January 11, MMSA reported that it had received 113-200 inches of snow in eight days, which brought the base depth on the summit of Mammoth Mountain to 230 inches, the most snow of any ski resort in The United States. That email was the most recent of a slew of multimedia advertisements promoting recent snowfall, issued simultaneously to warnings from the Town of Mammoth Lakes and the Mono County Sheriff’s Department urging travelers to stay off the roads.
The storm brought power outages, highway closures, flooding, high winds, and thunder and lightning. MMSA evacuated staff and visitors from Tamarack Lodge on Saturday afternoon due to potential flooding and closures of Lake Mary Road. Guests with reservations at Tamarack Lodge were relocated to other MMSA lodging properties in town.
Lifts were closed for all of Sunday and part of Saturday morning due to lightning and high winds. Burke told The Sheet that all guests were offered credits or refunds for lift tickets.
The Town of Mammoth Lakes issued a statement on its website on Thursday, January 5, encouraging residents and visitors to stay off the streets and in their homes or accommodations Saturday, January 7 through Monday, January 9. That same day, Mono County Sheriff’s Department issued a press release that warned of power outages and flooding due to hazardous weather. That statement read, “If the weather comes in as predicted, travel should be limited to emergencies only. People already in Mono County should stay home if at all possible, and travelers coming into Mono County should postpone their travel until the weather has passed.” Advisories became more severe as public officials provided residents with sandbag pickup locations on Saturday.
Throughout the storm, passholders were issued promotional emails touting fresh powder and advising customers to check for lift holds and regional travel restrictions. A little after 9 p.m. on Monday, January 9, Caltrans District 9 reported that Highway 395 was closed from Pearsonville to Bishop due to Extreme High Winds and Brown out Conditions. On Tuesday, January 10, Caltrans reported that Highway 395 was closed from 22 miles north of Bishop on the Sherwin Grade to the junction with SR 203 to Mammoth Lakes due to whiteout conditions.