Mt. Ashland closed today

    Mail Tribune / Andy Atkinson

    High winds have made the lifts at Mt. Ashland Ski Area too dangerous to operate today, according to the mountain report. Sustained winds of 55 mph were pummeling the summit this morning, with "gusts that nearly knock us off our feet!" the ski area said.

    "Our mountain ops crew headed up this morning to assess the situation with the lifts, and we have decided it is not safe to operate today," the ski area said on its website. It said another storm coming in would bring snow to the mountain over the next few days, however.

    Wind gusts in the area have reached 80 miles per hour, according to National Weather Service meteorologist Shad Keene.

    The National Weather Service has issued a high-wind warning for the south Central Oregon Cascades, including the Siskiyou Mountains, Crater Lake, Diamond Lake, Union Creek, Howard Prairie and the Siskiyou Summit on Interstate 5. South winds of 40 to 60 mph were expected through this evening, especially in areas above 5,500 feet, including Crater Lake and Mount Ashland.

    Keene said winds are forecast to calm this evening, but heavy snow is expected Sunday, with the largest flurries expected Sunday afternoon and evening.

    Heavy snow has prompted the weather service to issue a winter storm watch for those areas tonight through late Sunday night, with accumulations of 9 to 13 inches possible --making travel "very difficult to impossible," the weather service said.

    As of this morning, there were 32 inches of snow at the summit of Mount Ashland, 28 inches at mid-mountain and 32 inches on the lower mountain, the ski area said.

    Mt. Ashland hopes to open tomorrow and Monday, then will resume its normal Thursday through Monday operating schedule. Night skiing starts Thursday.

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