Mt. Ashland's latest ever opening date passes; hill still lacks snow

Four fresh inches of snow on Mount Ashland over a mid-February weekend normally is a good thing.

But when it only doubles the snowpack at the base of the Mt. Ashland Ski Area, General Manager Kim Clark can only shrug.

"At this point, any snow makes us happy," Clark says.

Today is the anniversary of the latest opening in the ski area's history and skiers and snowboarders are still waiting for enough snow for the ski area to open.

Forecasts have called for the mountain to receive anywhere from 6 inches to 20 inches of snow this week. Snowfall amounts on the high end of that prediction could get the ski area open, but Mt. Ashland's faithful know that past fronts have underachieved in precipitation this winter much like they did in 1977, when the ski area opened Feb. 17, then the latest opening ever.

Last week's storms brought rain to the ski area, eroding what little snowpack had accumulated at Mount Ashland and elsewhere in the Rogue River Basin. But storm fronts coming in Tuesday and Thursday will bring colder air and lower snow levels, according to the National Weather Service.

"The snow level should be below them for the duration," weather service meteorologist Tom Wright says.

Tuesday' forecast calls for about 8 inches of snow on Mount Ashland, which has about a foot of snow on top today. Thursday's front is a bit weaker, Wright says.

"It looks like, as far as we're forecasting, six to 10 inches for Mount Ashland," Wright says. "Then that should be it, in terms of fronts, for a week."

Clark declined to reveal how many season passes have been sold for the ski area so far this season. The passes state they are nonrefundable.

"We're focused on getting them on the mountain so they can use those passes," Clark says.

— Mark Freeman

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