Eaglecrest Ski Area hit its 50th day of snow on Sunday in a row days before a spell of cold, clear weather.
“I can’t believe it,” said Dave Scanlan, the general manager of Eaglecrest, in a phone interview. “It’s kind of crazy.”
Eaglecrest, whose season this year started slow, has had an uncommon streak of snow, which may end this weekend. Scanlan said that the staff of Eaglecrest will be discussing whether to extend their season with the good weather.
“If the forecast holds, looks like we’re gonna have clear blue skies this weekend,” Scanlan said.
Temperatures for the end of the week and the weekend are expected to sink into the twenties and teens, according to the National Weather Service.
“The cold is going to come with clearing skies,” said Kimberly Vaughan, a forecaster with the NWS in Juneau. “We’re going to get radiational cooling overnight. With the snow pack we have, we’re not absorbing a lot of heat.”
The low temperatures come from lack of cloud cover and cold air from the interior to the north, Vaughan said. The cold should abate somewhat by the end of the weekend, creeping into the low 40s.
“March is what we call starting the transition months,” Vaughan said. “It can kind of go back and forth through the month of March and into the first half of April.”
The variations from the highs and lows come from the lack of cloud cover, Vaughan said. The sun can warm the ground during daylight, making for warm days, but that heat dissipates at night, leading to chilly evening hours.
“May is known for colder snaps,” Vaughan said. “What’s interesting is that in February, Juneau was warmer than normal, but we still got all that snow.”
Heavy snow is a hopeful sign for the high-altitude lakes that power the hydroelectric plants Juneau depends on for much of its energy.
“The fact that we’re getting snowpack in the mountains this winter is the good thing,” Vaughan said. “If we do have a warmer and drier summer like we did last summer, if you have snowpack in the mountains, it’ll melt.”
The clear weather is good for more than skiers.
The Alaska Department of Transportation and Public Facilities has issued a warning that Thursday it’ll be taking avalanche suppression measures above the Thane road, using the DaisyBell to set off controlled avalanches, reducing buildup in the snowpack.
DOT had previously issued warnings earlier in the week, warning of possible avalanches from heavy snow and high winds at the altitude.
The DOT only flies the DaisyBell missions on clear days, so they take advantage of clear weather when it appears.