A winter storm that's forecast to move into Southern Oregon late Tuesday could bring heavy snow that would snarl high-elevation roads but also might allow the Mt. Ashland Ski Area to open for the first time this season.
The National Weather Service on Monday issued a winter storm warning for 10 p.m. Tuesday through 10 p.m. Wednesday for elevations above 5,000 feet, where snow accumulations of up to 18 inches could make travel extremely difficult, especially Wednesday morning.
The warning includes Crater Lake, Diamond Lake, Union Creek, Highway 140 in the Fish Lake area, and Howard Prairie, as well as Interstate 5's Siskiyou Summit. The weather service warned that travel will be "very difficult to impossible," with the heaviest snow coming from 4 a.m. to 10 a.m. Wednesday.
The Jackson County Sheriff's Office urged motorists to avoid driving on roads that are "notoriously dangerous" in winter, including passes in and out of the Rogue Valley. Department officials recommend keeping your vehicle well stocked with food and water during travel, along with warm clothing, necessary medications and tire chains.
The parade of storms could bring enough snow for the ski area to open this weekend, said Mt. Ashland General Manager Hiram Towle.
Estimates put the total snowfall amount at 23-34 inches by Thursday, but Towle said the opening likely would wait until Friday or Saturday to allow crews time to set up the mountain. The ski area's website reported Monday evening that 9 inches of snow had fallen in the last 24 hours for a total of 16 inches of snow base on the lower mountain.