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Mt. Ashland Ski Area closed indefinitely

The Mt. Ashland Ski Area closed indefinitely Monday after warm weather and a dearth of snow left ski runs too rocky for skis and boards.

Skiers began the bank holiday on the slopes of Mount Ashland with just 16-28 inches of snow, but warm temperatures eroded that base enough for area officials to temporarily suspend skiing for the second time in four days.

"We're just one storm away from re-opening," said Rick Saul, Mount Ashland's marketing director. "That could be this week. That could be next week. Who knows?"

The best chance of snow in this week's forecast is Wednesday, when the National Weather Service predicts a 50 percent chance of snowfall — but with high freezing levels.

Rains last Thursday triggered a Friday closure of the ski area, but two inches of new snow that night allowed it to reopen Saturday.

The season on the mountain began Dec. 16 with snow ranging from 22 inches to 32 inches. Artful grooming and cold weather allowed the ski area to remain open until last week's storm front moved in with warm temperatures.

Only three of the ski area's four lifts have been operable this season because of a lack of snow at the mountaintop.

Saul said the ski area needs some decent wet snow with good coverage to re-open, but there is no inch target needed for re-opening.

The Natural Resources Conservation Service on Monday listed the snowpack for the Rogue and Umpqua drainages now at 33 percent of normal.

The ski area's business office in Ashland will remain open midweek except for Tuesdays. Once the ski area re-opens, it will begin its regular in-season schedule of skiing daily except for Tuesdays and Wednesdays.

Mark Freeman is a reporter for the Mail Tribune. Reach him at 541-776-4470, or email at mfreeman@mailtribune.com.