WALNUT CREEK, Calif. (KGO) -- Snow-starved skiers and snowboarders are rushing to stores to get their equipment now that ski season is opening early. It's a welcome change after four years of drought.
It's sunny and beautiful here in the Bay Area, but snow is on the minds of folks in the East Bay. Sports Basement in Walnut Creek is already pushing ski equipment and the staff was thrilled to hear that some resorts would be opening early.
Alpine Meadows announced it is opening on Thursday. Squaw, Heavenly, and several other resorts are opening Saturday. That's more than a week ahead of schedule.
The news came as a pleasant surprise to snowboarder Charity Hill.
"I am super excited," she said. "It's incredible that they're finally open this year because last year was kind of a bummer. Let's hope for some El Nino snow this year."
Sports Basement in Walnut Creek says customers are starting to get excited.
"People are coming in and they're buying products, they're renting out a lot of skis and snowboards, a lot of snow boots are going just for people heading up to the snow, so it's been a good start to the season so far," said Sports Basement employee Jake Adkins.
Sports Basement owners have decided to double down on getting a good winter this year. They've put a new offer in place -- buy now, and if there's no snow you get half your money back.
"We've been hearing for months now that El Nino is coming and it's gonna bring a lot of weather, a lot of precipitation, so I think that has a lot to do with the expectations that we're having," Adkins said.
The store has also added about 20 percent more snow gear inventory this year compared to last. The resorts opening early are a good sign for them. Some skiers and snowboarders are now changing their plans.
"I wasn't planning on going till after holidays so hopefully I'll get up there next weekend and beat the rush," said Hill.
Last year after trying to ski in Tahoe she gave up and went to Utah, so she is hoping to keep her dollars at California resorts this year. And California resorts are hoping for the same thing.