Scant patches of snow remain at the base of Eaglecrest Ski area on Wednesday despite snowmaking efforts that occurred during the weekend, due to warmer temperatures and rain this week. The opening date for the ski area, originally set for Dec. 2 and then delayed until Dec. 9, is now undetermined. (Photo courtesy of Eaglecrest Ski Area)

Scant patches of snow remain at the base of Eaglecrest Ski area on Wednesday despite snowmaking efforts that occurred during the weekend, due to warmer temperatures and rain this week. The opening date for the ski area, originally set for Dec. 2 and then delayed until Dec. 9, is now undetermined. (Photo courtesy of Eaglecrest Ski Area)

Eaglecrest opening delayed again, target date now TBD

Warm temperatures and rain thwart efforts to open ski area on Saturday.

This story has been updated with newer weather forecast information.

Eaglecrest Ski Area is again being forced to delay its opening due to warm temperatures and rain thwarting snowmaking efforts, with the target date for the start of the season unknown, General Manager Dave Scanlan said Thursday.

The original opening date of Dec. 2 was postponed to this Saturday, Dec. 9, in the hope colder temperatures that set in late last week would allow a sufficient base of natural and man-made snow to be created, Scanlan said. But despite heavy snowmaking efforts last weekend, much of the mountain was again bare by midweek.

“It’s 100% we’re definitely not going to have anything open this weekend,” he said.

But Scanlan said he is hopeful the weather might be more cooperative during the coming days.

“It’s definitely going to be a very active weekend of weather and we’re hoping for the best,” he said. “It looks like none of the forecast models are quite in agreement on how this weekend’s weather is going to shape out as far as where are the temperature’s going to fall and how much snow are we going to get. It definitely looks like there’s a chance that we could get some very significant snowfall this weekend and into the first part of next week.”

The official forecast at the National Weather Service Juneau website as of Thursday morning calls for rain and snow showers in town, with temperatures ranging from the low 40s to about 30. But Pete Boyd, a meteorologist at the station, said Scanlan’s remarks about the uncertainty of conditions are accurate.

“He’s 100% correct about the models being in poor agreement,” Boyd said. “We’ve been seeing massive shifts in the different solutions over the past few days. Even within the short amount of time into the weekend we’re still not seeing great agreement. We do know that a good-sized system is tracking up — a small variation on where the track is can make massive changes in the total precipitation and even what the type of precipitation is for a particular area.”

An updated forecast at about 4 p.m. Thursday offered somewhat more certainty about the weather, but not much in the way of optimism for the ski area opening next weekend. Brian Bezenek, a lead meteorologist at the Juneau weather station, said it appears Eaglecrest could get 27 to 30 inches of snow from a series of storms that each produce several inches during the next few days.

“The bad news is on Tuesday we’ve got a storm coming in that’s warm enough there’s going to be rain,” he said, adding the warm period is like to continue further into the week.

The next open dates on Eaglecrest’s original schedule are a “long weekend” Dec. 15-17 before opening daily during its holiday schedule Dec. 20-Jan. 7 (the ski area will be closed Christmas and New Year’s days). Scanlan said even if an abundance of snowfall occurred this weekend, the ski area couldn’t practically open earlier than those dates.

“Let’s say we get two feet of snow on the ground or three feet of snow on the ground,” he said. “We still have numerous days where the ski patrol has to go out and set up their rope line, mark all the hazards, get all their signage out, and do their avalanche control work.”

“A lot of that can’t happen until we actually get snow on the ground. We’ll be ready to hustle as fast as we can, but it’s just really hard to say. Usually it’ll take us a good three days to get the mountain all set up once we’ve got some snow on the ground to work with.”

• Contact Mark Sabbatini at mark.sabbatini@juneauempire.com or (907) 957-2306.

More in News

(Juneau Empire file photo)
Aurora forecast for the week of March 4

These forecasts are courtesy of the University of Alaska Fairbanks’ Geophysical Institute… Continue reading

(Micheal Penn / Juneau Empire file photo)
Police calls for Sunday, March 3, 2024

This report contains public information from law enforcement and public safety agencies.

Issa Spatrisano, Alaska state refugee resettlement coordinator for Catholic Social Services, speaks Monday during a presentation to the Alaska Legislature. (James Brooks/Alaska Beacon)
Two years after Russia invaded Ukraine, Alaska’s refugee picture looks wildly different

Alaska has welcomed more than 1,000 refugees from Ukraine since the war began

A view of Gastineau Channel, where a second crossing between Juneau and Douglas north of the current bridge is in the evaluation stage. (City and Borough of Juneau photo)
Second Juneau-Douglas crossing to cost about $400M, be completed by 2030, in revised state transportation plan

Update also envisions Cascade ferry terminal by ‘25, safety fixes at Fred Meyer intersection by ‘26.

The State Office Building in Juneau is seen on Tuesday, Jan. 16. (James Brooks/Alaska Beacon)
Alaska plans to ease rules on state purchases without multiple price quotes

The state of Alaska is planning to raise the maximum size of… Continue reading

Emergency response officials probe the wreckage of a simulated avalanche site during a training exercise in Lemon Creek on Saturday. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire)
Simulated disaster strikes — repeatedly — as do rescue efforts during avalanche training exercise

Staged burial of three homes implores multitude of agencies to share specialized response skills

(Michael Penn / Juneau Empire file photo)
Police calls for Saturday, March 2, 2024

This report contains public information from law enforcement and public safety agencies.

(Michael Penn / Juneau Empire file photo)
Police calls for Friday, March 1, 2024

This report contains public information from law enforcement and public safety agencies.

(Michael Penn / Juneau Empire file photo)
Police calls for Thursday, Feb. 29, 2024

This report contains public information from law enforcement and public safety agencies.

Most Read