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First snow brings optimism on Mt. Lemmon

Posted at 6:00 PM, Nov 28, 2016
and last updated 2016-11-28 20:00:31-05

Call it some dessert after the holiday weekend- residents and visitors welcomed the arrival of four inches of snow which fell overnight Sunday on Mt. Lemmon north of Tucson.

Lucy Garcia watched as her children played with friends outside a vacation rental home in Summerhaven.  “They all wanted to be out here right away,” she said.

Catalina Highway was closed until just before 10:00 Monday morning, even after it opened traffic was light. 

The glimmering snow, visible from Tucson and surrounding areas, is a beacon for optimistic skiers from the desert. Some stopped for lunch at the Iron Door Restaurant, where excitement for another winter is building. Lorri Hans, a manager at the restaurant and Ski Valley, says a measurable snowfall before December fosters hope for a big winter.

“People in Tucson are looking out their back door at a cactus and they get to come up here and play in the snow,” Hans said. “You’re an hour and a half away, it’s better than having to go up north to flagstaff or Snowbowl.”

Ski Valley doesn’t make snow so each year operators hope snow storms come early and often to help build a snow base of 18 inches, the depth required to operate the lifts.