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Three feet of soft powder leads to perfect skiing in the Sierras, as here in December of 2003 at the top of the Sierra-at-Tahoe ski slopes. The mountains receive up to 15  feet of new snow each year from a series of wet storms that roll off the Pacific. This scene was taken just hours after a storm known as a "pineapple express" had taken aim at the San Francisco Bay area and continued on up to Lake Tahoe. Such storms, originating west of the Hawaiian islands, are relatively warm and water laden, and though they can cause flooding and mud slides at the low levels they deposit the powder snow in the mountains that make the western ski centers justifiably popular for Northern California skiers.

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