Winter may be cold and dry

Snow

The fierce wind has uncovered some of the grass along the Mendenhall Wetlands. (Photo by Heather Bryant)

Juneau’s winter could be dry and cold – but not much snow, according to the National Weather Service. But what falls may stick around longer, due to colder temperatures.

Forecaster Rick Fritsch says major snow dumps may be few this winter.  That’s because Juneau is stuck in a negative Pacific Decadal Oscillation, where temperatures at the surface of the ocean are colder than normal.  He says what we need for a real snowstorm is warmer, moist air to move in from the south.

“If we get something like that and it rolls over the top of this cold air with a very strong frontal push, and you get that warmer  frontal air mass, it precipitates cats and dogs,” he says.  “If it  hits that cold air and if it isn’t already snow, it turns to snow, and that’s how we get our 2-foot snowstorms and stuff like that.”  

Eaglecrest is hoping for one of those snowstorms.   Until it comes, the mountain operations crew is making snow, and there’s enough to open the Porcupine Lift on the lower mountain. The city-owned ski area opens tomorrow (Saturday), but only Porcupine will run, from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.   All the shops and food service as well as Mountain Lift Coffee will be open.  The mountain will be open for skiing and snowboarding both Saturday and Sunday.  The regular winter schedule starts later this month.

As for changes at the ski area this year, probably the biggest one is electricity to the Hooter Lift.  The old diesel engine has been converted to electric – reducing Eaglecrest’s carbon footprint as well as the noise.

 

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