Rain hits Valley, snow falls in Sierra

FRESNO, Calif.

Workers at the China Peak Ski Resort welcomed the storm enthusiastically.

"This is the first one to hit us this season, it's great," said Marketing and Retail Manager, Michelle Vikupitz.

Vikiputz said snow levels there dropped to about 6,000 feet overnight, producing about 6-8 inches of snow at the summit.

"It's awesome! We're so excited to have this early snow," she said. "It's perfect for snow-making, which we're planning on starting up in about two weeks. This will get the ground good and wet. It helps to start a good base and get the snow to stick."

If everything goes according to planned, Vikiputz said, the ski resort could open November 17th, just in time for the Thanksgiving Holiday. She said, last week, crews put up the chairs on the ski lifts and they'll begin making snow in about two weeks for opening day.

Businesses at nearby Shaver Lake are hoping the first sight of snow will equate to a wet winter and a busy season ahead.

"This is a welcomed change," said owner of Shaver Coffee & Deli, Norman Kato. "Everyone is tired of the 104 degrees in the Valley, so we're looking forward to a long winter full of snow.

Kato said last year, businesses suffered because of the lack of snowfall. He said, when there's snow, there's visitors spending money on food, clothing and gas as they make their way up the mountain to spend the day on the slopes.

"We're cautious, but optimistic that we're going to get another white, beautiful winter," he said.

So far, the ski park is off to a great start. A winter storm warning is in effect for the Sierra Nevada, with heavy snow and gusty winds forecasted through Tuesday morning. From 10 to 18 inches of snow are expected to fall above 7,000 feet, with 4 to 8 inches at about 6,500 feet.

It may not be enough for many ski parks to open now, but with the help of snow machines, officials at China Peak Ski Resort said it may be able to open before the Thanksgiving Holiday, giving businesses a big boost and providing hundreds of people with seasonal work.

"This is good, really good," said Kato. "It would help everyone on the mountain."

On Friday, October 26th and Saturday, October 27th, the ski park will hold a job fair from 9am to 6pm at the old Gottschalks location at the Sierra Vista Mall in Clovis.

Managers said, the resort is looking to hire nearly 400 seasonal staffers to operate ski lifts, work security and sell tickets and food. Applicants should bring a resume and plan to be interviewed on location. For more information on the fair, click here.

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