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Mountain News: Enough snow to last into autumn?

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TRUCKEE, Calif. — Continuing snowfall in the Sierra Nevada has Andy Wirth, the chief executive of Squaw Valley and Alpine Meadows, musing about an improbable ski season.

"I'm actually considering staying open through the summer and fall so it becomes the 16-17-18 season," Wirth said on Truckee Tahoe Radio over Easter weekend. "We're taking a hard look at that. There's so much snow up there."

On April 24, a Squaw spokesman, Sam Kieckhefer was less robust in his description of snow conditions, unable to confirm steady skiing to a July 4 closing much less a ski season that spans two winters.

"It's weather dependent," he told

Mountain Town News. "You never know what will happen over the next few months, whether there's rain, snow or a hot spell."

If hot weather arrives, he suggested, Squaw might curtail mid-week skiing to hoard snow for weekend crowds in order to make a July 4 closing. It has reached July 4 four times since records began in the 1961-62 season. The longest season, in 1992-93, lasted 230 days. Last year, Squaw only made it to Memorial Day.

A few kilometres away, water from Lake Tahoe began spilling over its artificial rim into the Truckee River. It was the first time since 2006 that water was deliberately spilled from the lake, reported the Sierra Sun.

With so much snow in the surrounding mountains, streams feeding into the lake will continue to be full for months to come. Typically, inflow peaks in June or July, but this year the peak isn't expected to occur until August, the newspaper said.

In mid-April, water officials in California reported that the northern Sierra Nevada has had the wettest winter in recorded history. It has several times been snowier, but this year was the wettest, both rain and snow falling from what were called atmospheric rivers from the Pacific Ocean.

In Denver, climate scientist Kevin Trenberth of the National Center for Atmospheric Research last week said he believes that the atmospheric rivers were enhanced by 15 per cent or so by global warming.

He had said the same thing soon after Hurricane Sandy battered New York City and New Jersey in 2013. In that case, some other climate scientists were more hesitant to link global warming with the extreme weather.

Such weather events are normal, said Trenberth at his talk in Denver, but are given greater strength because of the greater warming in the ocean and atmosphere.

Weather, he said, has shown the influence of greenhouse gas emissions since about the 1970s. "That's when global warming really rears its head," he said.

Zipline adventure park to open

FRASER, Colo. — An aerial adventure park is scheduled to open in June at Fraser, which is about six kilometres from the Winter Park ski area. The Fraser Valley Sports Complex to is to have a self-guiding belay system of zip lines, but with multiple obstacles built between platforms for adventurous sorts. The course will have 24 challenge elements located four to seven metres above the ground. The course will take 90 minutes to cover, the Sky Hi News said.

How to make housing density more accepted

BEND, Ore. — After all these years, a single-family house with a white-picket fence remains the dream.

But in the context of mountain towns, it's an expensive thing to have. Might the answer be found in denser housing that is more creatively designed?

That was the argument of Daniel Parolek, an urban planner and architect from Berkeley, Calif., who recently spoke before hundreds of Bend residents frustrated with their housing pinch.

Parolek, reported the Bend Bulletin, has coined a phrase: missing middle housing. He said he aims to address the issue without using terms such as "density" and "multifamily housing." Those phrases often cause pushback from existing residents, because they so often conjure images of poorly designed, block-style apartment buildings that don't blend with the current neighbourhoods.

According to the Bulletin, Parolek said the key to building more units is designing duplexes, triplexes, fourplexes, and cottages to look similar to existing single-family homes. A fourplex, for instance, may look like a large house, but offer homes for several families.

He said many people — especially millennials and baby boomers — would live in smaller units if that enabled them to live in desirable neighbourhoods that are within walking distance to shops and businesses.

Dealing with bigots up and down the Rockies

WHITEFISH, Mont. — Despite their geographical isolation amid natural splendour, towns up and down the Rocky Mountains continue to reflect world tensions.

Near Jasper recently, the word "mosque" was spray painted in yellow on a publish washroom. Happening upon this, an Edmonton man made a quick effort to cover the graffiti and then contacted Parks Canada, reported the Jasper Fitzhugh.

In Montana, the Whitefish Pilot reported that a former white supremacist was scheduled to tell his story to locals interested in his evolution. Christian Picciolini had been working to build the white-supremacist movement when he shifted courses and, in 2010, created Life After Hate, which seeks to help communities implement long-term solutions that counter racism and violent extremism.

A sponsor of his speaking tour said that the white-supremacist movement offered Picciolini and others a sense of purpose and a rationale for blaming others for their problems.

Also in Whitefish, the Jewish victim of a digital-campaign of harassment has sued the neo-Nazi website behind an online harassment campaign.

The lawsuit, according to the Whitefish Pilot, alleges that Andrew Anglin used his online forum to publish 30 articles urging his followers to launch a "troll storm" against Tanya Gersh, a local real estate agent. She and her husband and sons have received more than 700 harassing messages since December.

The Pilot said that she wept at a press conference last week as she described how she came home one day to find her husband in the dark with suitcases packed. "We thought we had to run for safety in the middle of the night," said Gersh.

Richard Cohen, president of the Southern Poverty Law Center, said his group has filed many lawsuits against hate-fomenting groups, but this case is a "bit unique and unprecedented" in that it deals with digital context.

He said that in many rulings the U.S. Supreme Court has made clear that an assault can come from words alone. "I don't think there are any serious First Amendment questions here," he said.

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