The last atmospheric river offers fresh snow for Whistler’s opening day


“The road to Whistler from the Lower Mainland has obviously not been affected, so there is still traffic all the way to the station for sure,” – Lauren Everest, Tourism Whistler.

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Flurries of snow greeted early risers for what was a fairly typical opening day Thursday at the Whistler Blackcomb resort, officials said.

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Weather conditions from the river that produced more rain over flood-ravaged areas of the Fraser Valley through Thursday triggered a rain warning on the Seay to Sky Highway for anyone heading to Whistler .

On the mountain, however, these conditions dropped 20cm of fresh snow on the 10cm that fell overnight for a crowd of around 900 skiers and snowboarders queuing at three sites in the village before the opening of. 8:15 a.m., according to spokesperson Jennifer Smith.

“It’s a regular business day,” said Smith, senior director of communications in the Pacific Northwest for Whistler Blackcomb’s parent company, Vail Resorts. “We certainly understand that for our BC customers, many of these people cannot reach us yet. “

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Smith said Whistler Blackcomb opened to “run our business like any other business in town,” despite inclement weather that has dealt devastating blows to transportation links across the Fraser Valley and the interior. .

With Highway 99 fully open to traffic to Whistler, Smith said Thursday’s crowd likely represented many local ski enthusiasts as well as international visitors who were able to make it to the resort.

Transport Minister Rob Fleming said Highway 99 “works well from the Lower Mainland to Lions Bay, Squamish, Whistler”, although travel restrictions remain between Pemberton and Lillooet.

“For this area, it’s only for passenger vehicles and nothing bigger than a cube van at the moment,” Fleming said in a briefing Thursday. “And as with all travel orders that remain in place, we will be updating the status of these necessary restrictions daily.”

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Drivers arriving in Whistler are unlikely to face a shortage of gasoline on their way back from the resort, Fleming said, with supplies appearing to be flat, after a “very strong sales weekend” across the region where stocks were low. been limited.

Most of the drivers heading to the Chevron station on the north side of Whistler were voluntarily complying with the province’s request to limit purchases of non-essential fuel to 30 liters per visit, manager Adam Naundorf said, so their sales were “a bit normal”.

A spokesperson for Tourism Whistler did not have statistics on the number of tourists, but “there are absolutely still visitors coming to the resort.”

“The road to Whistler from the Lower Mainland has obviously not been affected (by the flooding) so there is still traffic all the way to the station for sure,” said Lauren Everest, senior communications manager. by Tourism Whistler.

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Everest said early-season bookings for the resort have been strong enough that the agency is forecasting a 64 percent hotel occupancy rate, 42 percentage points higher than the pandemic season of the last year, but still seven points below the 2018-19.

Alta Bistro owner Eric Griffith said he saw a few Washington State and Oregon license plates in the village. .

“Bookings had a really good trend three weeks ago and kind of dropped when all (the floods) went down,” Griffith said.

However, the fresh snow and the very busy ski lifts on opening day leave the restaurant owner hoping for a good start to the season to recover in January and February when he had to close three days a week.

“After tonight we’ll see how many people have decided to come today,” Griffith said. “Look, the conditions are great so people have started skiing. “

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