Mount Ashland snowboarder

La Niña brings snow

Mount Ashland snowboarder
Rouge Community College student Trevor Smith catches air at Mount Ashland Saturday. Photo by Torin Foster/The Siskiyou

La Nina is in full swing in southern Oregon, already bringing a series of early winter storms and plenty of snow pack.  The counterpart of El Nino, a La Nina weather phenomenon means a cooler ocean surface temperature, which causes a cold, wet, winter and the chance of more storms than usual.

The early winter means a successful season for the Mount Ashland Ski Area, and solid snow melt for the region’s water supply in the coming months.

Mount Ashland has already seen more than 180 inches of snow dump onto the ski area and is consistently matching or exceeding snow depths at nearby Mount Shasta and Mount Bachelor so far this season.

“La Nina years are known for really big events,” said Mount Ashland Marketing Director Rick Saul. “I think there’s going to be plentiful snow.”

Saul explained that Mount Ashland’s location allows it to be hit with the northern tip of El Nino storms and the southern tip of La Nina storms, allowing for some snowfall consistency from season to season.

This year, the early snow allowed the mountain to open Dec. 3, the earliest opening in eight seasons.

La Nina is helping Mount Ashland financially as well, with the extra snow bringing more customers to the mountain. Saul explained that although snow levels and customers aren’t always a direct relation, snow early in the season helps to get things moving.

“New snow creates momentum,” Saul said. “And when you have an operating season that is only four months long, momentum is really important to your business.”

For those not interested in the recreational opportunities the cold, wet weather brings, they can at least be grateful that the snow will eventually melt and provide prosperous amounts of water for the next agricultural season.

Local Ashland Snow Ranger Steve Johnson says the snow levels he has measured so far this year are more than twice the regular average.  Johnson has been monitoring the snow levels in conjunction with water production in the area for roughly twenty years.

Several new inches of snow are expected to hit the Siskiyou Mountains later this week.


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